TIME Exercise/Fitness

17 Dos and Don’ts of Running With Your Dog

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Working out together can help both you and your furry friend stay healthy and happy

Your dog may be the ultimate exercise partner. Think about it: dogs are always eager to spend more time with you, they have plenty of excess energy to burn, and temptation to skip a scheduled sweat session melts away when your furry friend stands at the front door, leash in mouth, ready to log a few miles with you.

Before you hit the pavement, though, you’ll need to train your pooch to run with you. Here’s how to make your run enjoyable and rewarding for both you and your best (furry) friend.

Do: Give it a try

Just like humans, dogs need daily exercise for their health and happiness. And again, just like humans, American pets have a pudge problem: an estimated 52% of dogs are overweight or obese. Walking or running with your dog on a leash is one way to get you both moving more. Not all dogs are cut out to log multiple miles at once (more on that later), but many can learn to be great running partners. “Even if you think your dog is too hyper or too poorly behaved to jog alongside you, he may just need some training and some time to get used to it,” says Angi Aramburu, owner of Go Fetch Run, a group exercise class for owners and their dogs in New York City.

Don’t: Assume your dog’s a runner

Before you hit the road, consider your dog’s health, build, and breed. Older pups may have joint problems that can slow them down or make running uncomfortable. Dogs with short legs may not be able to keep up with the pace you’d like to maintain, while larger breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to arthritis, says Arumburu. Then, if your furry friend is a chihuahua, bulldog, pug, or other snort-nosed, flat-faced breed (also known as brachycephalic), running may simply require too much exertion. Their squished faces are cute, but they tend to have narrowed nostrils and partially obstructed airways, which make breathing difficult when they work too hard.

Read more: 15 Best Dog Breeds for Active People

Do: Check in with your vet

If you aren’t sure whether your dog’s fit to run, check with your veterinarian. “A vet can let you know if there are any red flags, and can provide advice about what’s safe and healthy for your individual dog in your individual surroundings,” says Aramburu. Even if you’re certain your pup will be fine, give your vet a heads up. The doc may recommend dietary adjustments to go along with the uptick in exercise, for example.

Don’t: Start them too young

Running on hard surfaces can damage a puppy’s joints and bones that haven’t fully formed yet. “You really should wait until a young dog’s growth plates [areas of cartilage near the ends of bones] have started to close, and that time frame really varies by breed and size of dog,” says Sharon Wirant, an animal behaviorist with the ASPCA. “A much smaller dog like a Jack Russell Terrier could probably start going on regular runs earlier than a larger dog, like a Great Dane, whose growth plates will take longer to seal up,” she says. If your puppy is still growing or hasn’t started running with you yet, ask your vet about when it’s safe to start.

Do: Start out slow

“A sedentary person can’t just jump off the couch one day and run 5 miles, and neither can a sedentary dog,” says Aramburu. “Too much too soon increases your dog’s risk of injury, just as it would a human’s.” Find a beginner 5K training plan that will let you and your pooch progress at a safe, healthy pace. Many of these plans combine intervals of walking and jogging, so there’s plenty of time for active recovery and catching your breath.

Read more: 10 Rules for Raising a Healthy Dog

Don’t: Skip your warm up

Before you pick up your pace for any workout, be sure you’ve given yourself—and your dog—at least a few minutes of walking or slow jogging. “Warming up those muscles is a great idea for both you and your dog, and can protect you both against injuries” says Wirant. Another warm-up ritual to make a habit: giving your furball a chance to sniff around and do his business. That means fewer stops for pee and poop breaks once you get moving.

Do: Head for the trails

Running on dirt trails will be easier on your pup’s joins and paws than running on asphalt, says Aramburu. (The same goes for your own joints!) Plus, your dog will enjoy the natural sights, smells, and sounds—perhaps more so than the sidewalk in your neighborhood. Be sure to check at the park entrance or trailhead that dogs are allowed, either on- or off-leash. And before you let your dog off-leash, check into what types of wildlife roam the park. Deer and foxes can both seriously injure or even kill your beloved pet.

Don’t: Forget tick protection

Spending time outdoors with your dog—especially if you’re tackling the trail—may put you both at risk for picking up ticks along the way. Protect yourself by wearing bug spray and long socks, and check with your vet to be sure your pet is up-to-date on tick medication. Then, after any run through woods or long grass, inspect both yourself and your dog for ticks that may have hitched a ride home, and promptly remove any that you find. If you do realize your dog’s been bitten, call your vet for next steps.

Read more: 10 Rules for Raising a Healthy Dog

Do: Teach basic commands

A dog that misbehaves on walks probably isn’t ready to run, says Wirant. “You want to teach them to walk nicely on leash, and break the behaviors of stopping to sniff or marking every tree, or racing ahead and pulling you.”

It’s also important to teach a “Leave It” command, so that your dog will ignore or walk away from tempting items (like trash, roadkill, or sticks) they might come across on a path. Teaching them to “Sit” and “Stay” is also helpful, especially at traffic crossings. If you have trouble training your dog any of these commands, consider an obedience class or dog trainer.

Don’t: Let them pull you

Use a 4- to 6-foot leash; anything longer than that can spell trouble on the jogging path, since you want to train Fido to stay by your side. “Their nose should be even with your knee, and your arm should be straight down and holding their leash right by their collar, at least while they’re getting used to running with you,” says Aramburu. During the teaching stage, it can be helpful to maintain this position during walks as well. “Normally you want to give them more freedom while you’re walking, but it’s fine to keep them really close for a few minutes at a time and then praise them and let the leash out so they get a reward for being good.”

Do: Take water breaks

“Dogs can’t really tell us when they’re thirsty, so I tend to be over cautious with the water,” says Aramburu. She recommends stopping every 10 minutes, at least until you have an idea of how much water your dog needs—and especially in sunny or hot weather. You’ll want to carry a container that your dog can drink from, like a collapsible bowl or a bottle with a special spout for dogs. (And while we’re on the subject: Don’t share your Gatorade!)

Watch: 7 Easy Ways to Drink More Water

Don’t: Run when it’s too hot

Dogs overheat more easily than humans, since they have heavy fur coats and they don’t sweat. So it’s important to be careful when it’s warm out, and to avoid running in midday heat. Longhaired pooches may feel cooler in the summertime after a haircut—but don’t go too short, since that coat also protects against sunburn.

Run in the shade, when possible, and avoid hot blacktop, asphalt, or sand, which can burn dogs’ paws. To test a surface’s temperature, Banfield Pet Hospital recommends placing your hand or a bare foot on it for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.

Do: Watch out for their paws

Check your dog’s paws when you get back from a run to make sure they haven’t suffered any cuts or injuries, says Winart. Take extra care in the heat, since their feet are susceptible to burns, and when you’re on the trail, where you’ll come across more rocks, sticks, and uneven terrain.

If you run in the snow, try to avoid roads that have been treated with salt, which can sting dogs’ feet—and then upset their stomachs if they lick their paws once they’re inside. Canine booties or disposable latex boots can shield paws from irritants; if your dog won’t tolerate them, you can also apply petroleum jelly or Musher’s Secret wax to their pads to provide some protection.

Don’t: Ignore warning signs

During and after your run, watch your dog for signs of heatstroke or overexertion, like lethargy, weakness, drooling and dark red gums, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, or panting to the point that he can’t catch his breath. If your dog stops and refuses to continue, don’t force him.

Any time your dog seems overheated, find shade and give him cool or air-temperature water; you may even want to dump some on his head or body. Just don’t let your dog gulp too much water during or after exercise. When they’re hot and thirsty, it is possible for dogs to drink too much, says Wirant, and suffer from potentially fatal water toxicity or from bloat, a dangerous condition in which they swallow a lot of air.

Read more: 14 Surprising Pet Poisoning Dangers

Do: Have a poop plan

As a dog owner you probably know better than to leave puppy poop behind, but still—it’s easy to forget to take waste bags with you when you head out for a run. Not only should you be prepared to pick up after your dog while you’re exercising, you should also know where you’re going to dispose of it, even if that means holding onto it until you find a trash can.

Giving your dog time to “go” before and after your run will reduce your chances of having to make a mid-workout pit stop. “With time, you can absolutely train your dog to urinate and defecate on demand by taking them to the place where they usually go and using a verbal cue,” says Wirant.

Don’t: Give treats too soon

When you finish a tough run and you’re still panting and sweating, you probably wouldn’t have a snack—you’d get sick to your stomach. Same goes for your dog, so hold off on treats until you’ve both calmed down a bit, says Wirant. (Watch out for ice cubes and ice water, too: The extreme temperature change could cause vomiting.) In the meantime, reward your dog by praising him, petting him, and giving him lots of attention. And before you head inside, let him have a few minutes to run around and explore, and to go to the bathroom once more.

Do: Have fun!

Once your dog has mastered the art of running on a leash, you’ll have yourself an always-willing, always-excited exercise partner. Just be sure your dog seems happy. A good sign: he wags his tail and barks when he sees you take out his running leash. Leave him home for a few sweat sessions if he seems stiff or uncomfortable after exercise.

In the long run, working out with your dog can keep unwanted pounds off, extend your life, and help you stay healthy and happy—and same goes for your furry friend. Keep it up!

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME animals

Animals May Be Able to Predict Earthquakes 3 Weeks in Advance

Seismometer
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New study shows dramatic changes in animal behavior before an earthquake

Animals may be able to sense an earthquake coming as long as three weeks before it happens, well before humans can, a new international study found.

By examining footage from motion-sensor cameras in Peru’s Yanachaga National Park, scientists found that animal activity declined significantly in the month before a major 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck, according to a study published in Physics and Chemistry of the Earth. During the three weeks before the earthquake, the cameras recorded about a third as many animal sightings as usual, and in the five to seven days before the quake, the cameras recorded no animals at all. The researchers think that animals may be more sensitive to positive ions in the air that build up when rocks in the earth’s surface are stressed leading up to an earthquake, which may cause them to flee.

This is not the first time researchers have noted this phenomenon—scientists in China and Japan have been studying it for a while, noting that lab rats have a harder time sleeping ahead of an earthquake.

(h/t CNN)

TIME animals

Cranky Runaway Pig Terrorizes Burger King

Just in time for a special on bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches

On Thursday morning, a pot-bellied pig that escaped from its pen overnight wandered into the parking lot of a Burger King in Boswell along U.S. Route 30, about an hour southeast of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

Coincidentally, there was a two-for-$4 special on bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches going on, but it does not sound like the animal ate any of its own kind. Instead, it was fed hash browns by customers and tolerated some picture-taking before police arrived after the runaway pig also reportedly nipped a bystander’s foot, according to CBS Pittsburgh.

No word on whether any customers became vegetarian after their encounter with the pig.

TIME animals

This Quadruple Amputee Rottweiler Looks So Happy Walking With His New Prosthetic Limbs

Fall in puppy love all over again

Here’s a story warming the hearts of dog lovers around the Internet. A Rottweiler named Brutus living in Loveland, Colo., had his paws removed because of a severe case of frostbite he got when a previous owner left him out in the cold as a puppy, according to a statement by Colorado State University. At two years old, he is now learning to walk again thanks to four prosthetic limbs from OrthoPets Denver and therapy from the school’s James L. Voss teaching hospital.

TIME animals

John Legend Will Sing at Your Next Dog Wedding

"That's love"

Musician John Legend stars in a music video in which he sings for two bulldogs getting hitched. After preparing an experience of a lifetime for these canines, he runs into wife and model Chrissy Teigen, who appears disgusted and confused at first, but then says she would run upstairs to get a dress.

The clip is a promotion for Omaze, a site that works like an online charity raffle, advertising an opportunity to have the Grammy winner perform at a private event. Fans who buy an entry will be donating to the Show Me Campaign’s effort to rebuild the auditorium at the former South High School in Springfield, Ohio—his hometown.

 

TIME spiders

Spiders Run Faster in Warm Weather, Study Shows

MEXICO-NATURE-TARANTULA
Yuri Cortez—AFP/Getty Images A worker of the Chapultepec Zoo shows a pink tarantula (Grammostola Rosea) on March 19, 2015 in Mexico City.

Looking forward to spring?

And now for the most terrifying science news of the day: a new study shows that tarantulas move faster in warmer weather.

A study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology tested Texas brown tarantulas’ speeds in a variety of temperatures, Science Magazine from AAAS reports. The hotter the temperature, the faster the spiders scuttled.

Speeds at the warmest temperature tested—40°C (104°F)—were 2.5 times faster than speeds at the coldest—15°C (59°F).

The reason for the spiders’ temperature sensitivity has to do with the fact that their eight legs are not controlled by muscles. Instead, a hydraulic fluid called hemolymph courses through the appendages to make them flex and extend, and the flow of the fluid is sensitive to temperature.

So arachnophobes, beware of the desert.

TIME animals

Watch 7 Really Cute Puppies Predict the NCAA Final Four Winner

They'd rather be napping

In anticipation of the NCAA Final Four, which starts April 4, Jimmy Fallon invited a team of seven puppies — who, let’s face it, would rather be napping — to pick a winner. The adorable fluffballs run toward bowls labeled with the four competing teams: Kentucky Wildcats, Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State Spartans and Duke Blue Devils. It’s a vicious competition, but a clear winner eventually emerges.

The Tonight Show is clearly respecting the age-old tradition of employing totally under-qualified (albeit excessively adorable) animals to predict which team will win a sports championship.

Let’s hope that their predictions were more accurate than Teddy Bear the porcupine’s Super Bowl pick.

 

TIME animals

Some NYC Ants Like to Eat Junk Food, Study Finds

The study may indicate which ants could help humans clean up trash

Some of the ants crawling around New York City have developed a taste for junk food, according to a new study.

The study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which analyzed samples from more than 20 ant species in Manhattan, looked at levels of a type of carbon typically found in processed foods that humans eat.

Ants that lived on the sidewalk and other paved areas in the Big Apple tended to have carbon isotope levels more similar to humans, while ants that lived in parks had lower levels, the study found.

“Human foods clearly make up a significant portion of the diet in urban species,” said study author Clint Penick, a researcher at North Carolina State University, in a press release. “These are the ants eating our garbage, and this may explain why pavement ants are able to achieve such large populations in cities.”

The study may indicate which types of ants that could help humans clean up trash, Penick added.

TIME

Karl Lagerfeld Says His Cat Made $3 Million Last Year

'Corsa Karl Und Choupette' Vernissage
Franziska Krug—Getty Images Karl Lagerfeld and cat, Choupette

"She is the center of the world. If you saw her, you would understand"

Fashion designer and photographer Karl Lagerfeld loves little black dresses and a big white cat.

In an interview with New York magazine, Lagerfeld disclosed that his chic cat, named Choupette, isn’t just pretty — she’s apparently worth millions. In fact, Lagerfeld claims that she made $3.22 million last year from just two modeling gigs.

To famous feline insiders — we know you’re out there — who scoff at the figure when compared to Grumpy Cat’s reported $100 million in commercial deals, consider this: Between the media tours and the movies and the endorsements, Grumpy Cat is scheduled within an inch of her nine lives.

Choupette, on the other hand, would never demean herself to peddle Friskies. She can bring in millions by barely raising a paw.

“She did two jobs and made 3 million euros last year,” Lagerfeld said. “One was for cars in Germany and the other was for a Japanese beauty product. I don’t allow her to do foodstuffs and things like this. She’s too sophisticated for that.”

In Lagerfeld’s rarefied world, Choupette is a queen and treated accordingly.

“She hates other animals and she hates children,” Lagerfeld said. “She stays always with me and she has two personal maids. They play with her, they have to take care of her beautiful white hair, the beauty treatments for her eyes, and they entertain her. She is the center of the world. If you saw her, you would understand.”

Sorry to add onto your grumpiness, Grumpy Cat.

[NYMag]

TIME animals

Science Has Found Out What Music Your Cat Should Be Chilling to While Being Neutered

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Unsurprisingly, AC/DC is not it

During surgical operations, cats aren’t huge fans of adult contemporary ballads or fist-pumping rocks anthems. In fact, research has found that felines much prefer the lush sound of classical music when going under the knife.

In an experiment detailed this week in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon studied how 12 female pet cats responded to different genres of music, while undergoing neutering.

To gauge the animals’ responses, the clinicians recorded their respiratory rates and pupil diameters, which are an indication of their depth of anesthesia.

During the experiment, the cats were fitted with headphones and then exposed to two minutes of silence — as a control — before listening to portions of Barber’s “Adagio for Strings (Opus 11),” Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”

“The results showed that the cats were in a more relaxed state (as determined by their lower values for respiratory rate and pupil diameter) under the influence of classical music, with the pop music producing intermediate values,” reports Science Daily.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, listening to AC/DC while being spayed induced “a more stressful situation.”

[Science Daily]

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