Running is always more fun with a buddy, especially if that buddy happens to be your dog. Training for a 5K race can be particularly lonely, but doing it with Fido might give you the extra enjoyment and motivation you need to get through it. However, don't just assume it's a good idea to include your dog in your 5K regimen. You need to consider some things first.
Your Dog's Breed
You might not have the right kind of breed for running a 5K. Most dogs are natural sprinters that just aren't built for a lengthy run. A 5K is only a little more than three miles, which isn't that far for a human, but is a considerable distance for many dogs.
Here are some of the breeds that are best suited for running:
Long and Steady Runners (Medium Pace)
- German shorthaired pointers
- Jack Russell terriers
Slow but Steady Runners
- Labrador retrievers
- Standard poodles
Brisk Runners Capable of a 5K but No More Than 10K
Give Your Dog a Warm Up
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- English setters
- Golden retrievers
First, consult your veterinarian to be sure your dog is in shape and capable of exercise. Then, keep in mind dogs need to warm up just like people do. Don't just hit the pavement with your dog and go all out because you're warmed up and ready to go. Give your dog at least five minutes of brisk walking and/or light jogging to get their muscles warmed up, too. Be aware that if your dog is not used to running on pavement or rocks, he could get injured.
Take Your Dog on a Test Run
Before starting a regimen, go out for a trial run with your dog and see how they respond to it. Just because you have a breed that is built for running, it doesn't mean they will be as interested as you are in doing it for extended periods, and it also doesn't mean they are in shape for it.
If your dog is having a hard time keeping up when you go on your first run with them, it's likely an indication that your dog needs to get in better shape
and may need a little training, too. The way you get your dog in better shape is the same as you would get yourself in better shape: follow an incremental training plan. If your dog is losing interest quickly because they are getting distracted and want to stop and sniff every 10 feet, a gentle tug on their leash will start to correct that behavior.
Even if your dog isn't up for a 5K race, just getting exercise together is good for you both.