I can understand the benefits of canine companionship while on your morning or evening jog. It adds several positive dimensions to your life, including a sense of security and another level of affection and affinity for your puppy. Shihpoos being as cute as the are, you are also likely to crave the self-satisfaction of showing them off a bit to neighbors and seeing them smile as you two jog by.
Can you take your Shihpoo jogging?
Shihpoos love to go on walks and can easily pull you to a jogging pace. Given the reality of the Shihpoos’ smaller size, long and uninterrupted jogs are not recommended. Shihpoos can generally enjoy one or two one-mile slow jogs around the neighborhood a day.
What else you should know about jogging with your Shihpoo
At times, Shihpoos can display a high level of energy inherited from their Poodle parent. Literally harnessing this energy and going for a jog can do both owner and Shihpoo quite a bit of good. There are some important points to understand before heading out the door with your live teddy bear in tow.
How fast is too fast of a jog?
It would be easy to assume that because your Shihpoo is a small dog, his or her legs are too short to run very fast. Shihpoos, however, generally don’t care much for such laws of physics. Certainly in short bursts around the back yard or in the neighborhood park, when you are playing catch or fetch with your Shihpoo, for example, they can outrun just about anyone but Usain Bolt. How about on sustained runs, though?
When I first took our 3-year old male, Titus, for one-mile jog around the neighborhood block, I was concerned on several fronts (not least about my own front… and back and waste). As you can see, when we got started, Titus was contentedly unconcerned.
I figured it would take both of us about 20 to 25 minutes (3 MPH) to cover the mile. I watched Titus carefully for signs of fatigue (not keeping up or trying to stop to smell everything along the path) and thirst (tongue out, heavy panting, thick saliva, to name a few). Other than initially wanting to stop at every plant, lawn and landscaping feature to smell for signs of previous visitors, Titus not only kept pace with me but stayed ahead of me for the most part.
About halfway through our jog, even though he showed no signs of fatigue or thirst, I stopped briefly to offer Titus some water, pouring it into my palm and offering him liquid refreshment. Again, no interest. So off we went again.
During the final quarter mile, I did notice Titus was no longer leading me. Instead, he trotted contentedly just a step or two behind me, less due to fatigue and more due to being resigned to not getting to sniff every bush and hydrant along the route.
As we jogged back into the driveway, I again offered Titus some water (both from my bottle and from his water bowl). He acted completely disinterested, preferring to head inside to run some more around the couch and play tug-o-war with his little brother.
Considerations before Your Jog
Casual joggers will have no problem enjoying the company of their Shihpoo for a mile or so. As you consider taking your own fur ball of sweetness for a short run, answer a few questions and be aware of a few possibilities as outlined below.
Collar or Harness?
We highly recommend a jogging harness for your Shihpoo. With a collar, you will likely notice your dog coughing whenever he or she pulls against the leash. Shihpoos are prone to tracheal irritation caused by collar pressure. A properly fitted harness can minimize this problem. Here’s one available in just about any color you want.
Be prepared initially to stop and smell the… well… whatever
Like most dogs, Shihpoos love to explore new spaces and investigate unfamiliar smells. Initially, when you pull out the leash and tell your pup you two are going jogging, he or she will hear “go” and think it is walk time. Expect some excitement in the form of a rush for the door or spinning or major tail wagging (or all three).
If the jogging pace confuses your dog a bit, not stopping at the first park or green space you pass will challenge his or her concept of reality. This time, expect some pulling on the leash. By the quarter-mile mark, though, your intelligent little Shihpoo will have deduced that there is no pulling over during this “walk.”
If you dog did a lot of pulling during your first jog together, you might consider rewarding the little guy or girl with some extra exploration time at the end. This can motivate them next time to stay up and soldier on through.
How old is your Shihpoo?
Granted, our Shihpoo is fairly young and in prime health at 3 years old. Obviously, if you own Shihpoo is on either extreme of the life cycle, even a one-mile walk will not be advisable.
Young puppies are not ready for long walks, let alone jogs. Overtaxing a puppy may damage their joints, particularly their growth plates. Sometime between the ages of four and eight months, I would recommend you ask your veterinarian if he or she feels your Shihpoo is ready for a short jog.
The same can be said of older Shihpoos. Although many Shihpoos live into their late teen years, you will still want to check with your veterinarian before starting a jogging program with your aging dog. Obviously, if your Shihpoo is still actively bolting around the yard during potty breaks or enjoying indoor games of fetch and tug-o-war, he or she may still enjoy a short, slow jog now and again.
Consider the Season and Temperature
While small dogs may not be prone to overheating any more so than large dogs, breeds with very short snouts are. If you Shihpoo inherited its Shih Tzu parent’s short nose, you will need to pay extra attention to signs of overheating (excessive panting or drooling being among the main indicators).
Additionally, if your Shihpoo is all black, sunlight absorption can also lead to overheating. In such cashes, jog on the side of the street with the most shade as much as possible.
Jogging with your Shihpoo near Traffic
If you are jogging around or through traffic, especially near dawn or dusk, be sure to wear reflective gear yourself and to get a harness with reflective properties for your Shihpoo.
Alternatives to Jogging with Your Shihpoo
If you are serious about your exercise routine, need more than a one-mile breezy run, and you still want to bring your Shihpoo along, consider these alternatives.
Split Your Jogging Routine in Two
If you need to jog more than one mile a day, consider jogging a mile with your Shihpoo in the morning and another mile in the evening. Dividing your runs can give your canine companion the chance to recover his or her energy while avoiding any overheating or dehydration concerns.
Jogging with your Dog in a Stroller
Pushing puppy around in a jogging stroller means you can jog at your own pace, run as far and as fast as you want, and not worry about overtaxing or overheating your teddy bear. You also get the benefits of having a jogging buddy to talk to while still being able to show off the cutest dog in the neighborhood.
Consider Other Forms of Exercise
If you have a young puppy, an aging dog, or your Shihpoo is not feeling well, you will want to consider other forms of exercise for yourself. Bicycling with your puppy in a basket or trailer can be a great alternative to jogging. While it does not exercise your dog, it does give you the freedom to get the exercise you need.
If your Shihpoo is in good health, not a very young puppy, and otherwise displaying signs of enjoying exercise, taking him or her for a one-mile jog around the neighborhood will not likely be an issue. While the obligatory disclaimer of asking your vet about it first is wise, you should not be overly concerned about a jog with your dog just because he or she weighs just 10 or 15 lbs. Small dogs can love jogging too.
Does a Shihpoo need daily exercise? As with all dog breeds, regular exercise of some form is healthy for your Shihpoo. If the Poodle parent’s high activity level is dominant over the Shih Tzu parent’s more relaxed demeanor, daily exercise will also be helpful in releasing some of that energy.
What are exercise options for Shihpoos? Your Shihpoo will be unique, but most Shihpoos enjoy playing fetch with chew toys and balls, going for a neighborhood walk, and generally socializing and playing at a dog park.
Published September 11, 2019