Dogs make the best running partners. Rain or shine, they're always ready to go, ready to cheer you on, and dig in for another mile. They'll keep you motivated and help you stick to your running program — sometimes even pushing you out of bed on days you might otherwise pull up the covers.

If you and your dog are ready to start running, follow these tips to keep her safe, healthy and happy on the go.

Check with your vet. If running is new for your dog, make an appointment with your veterinarian before you begin. Not all dogs are up for the challenge of a daily running program — some breeds are more suited to it than others and some dogs may simply be too young or too old for rigorous exercise. If your vet gives you both the thumbs up, you can get ready to run.

Start slowly. If you're an experienced runner, you may be tempted to push your dog too hard and too fast at the beginning, but she needs to ease into a training program — just like you would — to avoid injury. She doesn't have fancy running shoes to cushion her paws and her joints, so ease her into runs, gradually increasing the speed and mileage to give her body a chance to acclimate.

Run prepared. Don't forget to pack extra water for your puppy when you head out on runs. You may need to carry a portable water dish, or teach him how to drink from his own water bottle. And if your run course requires dogs to be leashed, make sure he is. Even if your dog is well-trained, the dog headed toward you might not be. You and your pup will be better off if you can maneuver him out of harm's way quickly.

Look her over. Dogs can be pretty tough when it comes to pain, so be sure to give your dog the once over after every run to look for signs of injury. Any signs of raw paws, bleeding or overexertion should be treated immediately and may require a day or two of rest from running.

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