Does my Cocker Spaniel make a good running partner?

Running with your cocker spaniel

Planning to take your Cocker Spaniel running with you?

For some of us running is a great activity to do on our own, but what if you had some company?

Your furry cocker spaniel friend would make a great running companion and you get the added benefit of both of you keeping fit and burning off some calories. It’s also a great way of spending time with your dog and growing the bond between you.

But, to make running enjoyable for you and your dog there are a few things you should consider.

You’ll need to train your dog to run with you

Don’t expect your dog to be able to run alongside you from day one. It will take a bit of time and certainly, a few goes get them used to running with you.

If they have some training and are comfortable with working to heel when on the lead that will certainly help. 

Depending on your route (more on that later) you might be able to run with your spaniel off the lead, but we only suggest doing that if they have good recall awareness.

Ultimately, it will just need a bit of time for both of you to get used to the running process.

Given that they will need some training we don’t suggest taking them running if they are young and not yet fully grown. Running take put some extra strain on your spaniel’s joints, so it’s best to wait until they’re 12 months or so old and when they’ve done the majority of their growing.

Build your distance over time

It’s difficult to know how your spaniel will deal with running with you, so it’s best to start with a short run and build up the distance over time. It’s also best to start slowly and build speed - it’s not a 100m sprint after all.

Ultimately, take your time and don’t expect to break personal records, even with an experienced running spaniel by your side. Expectation management is key and doesn’t push your spaniel too hard.

Plan your route

Having your dog alongside you makes planning a route before you head out super important. The are a number of things you need to consider that you wouldn’t necessarily need to do when you’re running on your own:

  1. Terrain and surfaces. Be sensitive to the surfaces you’ll be running on, as your spaniel will find it more comfortable to run on softer surfaces such as grass, rather than pavements or gravel. 
  2. Other dogs and distractions. If your spaniel likes to play with other dogs or is easily distracted you’ll need to plan your route very carefully. Make sure you avoid the local park or dog hangout - there’s nothing worse than pausing mid-run to go and get your spaniel back!
  3. Heat. Be conscious of the heat as dogs react very differently to humans and can overheat. If it’s on the warmer side, ie. above 15 degrees consider not running with your dog as they could overheat. Always err on the side of caution and find a route where there’s plenty of shade or trees.
  4. Will it be dark? If you’re planning to take your spaniel running with you when it’s dark be sure to plan your run for a well-lit route and purchase a high-viz jacket, ideally for both of you, but certainly for your dog beforehand.

Get the proper equipment

Having the proper running gear for you and your dog will make the entire running experience nicer and hassle-free. We suggest:

  • A running belt with the appropriate storage for doggy essentials; poo bags and treats.
  • A lead that can be connected to your belt.
  • A harness for your dog. Make sure it’s super comfy and gives them enough support.
  • A vessel for carrying water for your dog.

Some owners purchase dog boots for their spaniels, but we don’t think they’re essential, it’s very much a personal choice unless your dog is likely to cuts its paw pads or if you’re running on particularly difficult terrain.

Know when to stop

Cocker Spaniels love to run but don’t always know when to stop. You have to make that decision for them if they are panting heavily or out of breath. There’s no point in overdoing it, after all, it’s meant to be an enjoyable time where your bonding with your dog.

Remember to take plenty of water with you and keep an eye on how your dog is reacting to the physical exertion. 

Give your dog time to digest their food

Dogs don’t exercise well on full stomachs  - in some extreme cases it can be dangerous for them - so give them plenty of time to digest their food prior to taking them on a run. 

Post-run, make sure they have access to plenty of water and we suggest not feeding them for between an hour and an hour and a half after running.

Enjoy it!

Running with your spaniel can be a super rewarding experience for both you and your dog, so make sure you enjoy it and make the most of the time your spend together. Spaniels love to exercise and they will love to run with you providing you take time to plan and prepare for the run in advance. In fact, the bond between your dog and will be even greater - if it can be!

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