If you are a runner, or would like to become one, you may want to partner up with your Shetland Sheepdog. Healthy dogs usually enjoy this exercise, and running together can not only help you both stay in shape, but it can also build the bond between you and you Sheltie.
Naturally, you’ll want to be sure your dog is physically able to run. Puppies and young dogs should not run with you until their bodies are ready to withstand repetitive motion on a hard surface. Typically, this is when the growth plates in their bones have closed. Dogs with health issues may also be poor candidates for running. Consult with your vet before beginning a running program with your dog.
If your dog is cleared for running, start training slowly. Like people, dogs also need time to build up their physical conditioning, which includes building calluses on their foot pads. Although your dog may have zoomies around the house, running for any length of time requires a different type of physical and mental fitness, so be patient. You may want to start training by running 30 seconds and walking one minute for 20 minutes. Gradually increase the time running versus walking, and you can gradually increase the overall length of your session.
When running with your Sheltie, it is also important to run when the temperature is cool. Shelties have impressive double-coats, and can easily overheat. Be alert to signs that your dog is getting over-heated, such as excessive panting or drooling. Stop running, offer fresh water, and cool your dog down if you notice any signs of distress.
Although small-in-stature Shelties may not be the ideal companions for marathons, most well-conditioned Shelties can easily enjoy 5K runs. If your Shetland Sheepdog is comfortable in crowds, you may even consider signing up for 5K K9 runs. There’s something quite special about running with your dog in a pack.