Running With Dogs


If anyone knows me, even if it’s just a little, they know that dogs are kind of my thing. I love them. Even the little ones people carry around in their bags. It also means that I love doing things with my dogs. You name it: I’ve probably tried it or I’m going to try it. Can we say Black Labrador is crammed onto a peddle boat with three people? …are three people even supposed to be on a peddle boat at once? Hmmmm, that’s not the point here. The point is actually to discuss running. And not just running, but running with your dogs. Because the truth is running with your dog isn’t as simple as just going out and doing it. There are a whole host of factors to consider; things I hadn’t thought of when I first started running with my dogs. Perhaps some of the wisdom I’ve gained over the years can, at the very least, save your pup’s paw pads


There’s a popular mantra out there that says that “anyone can run.” I’m certainly not here to debate that, but what I am here to debate is whether or not every dog should run. Many breeds of dogs were bred with a specific purpose or task in mind. The French Bulldog, for example, were basically bred to be short, squish faced and so ugly they are freaking adorable. A Springer Spaniel, by contrast, was bred to be agile and fast. So, with basic genetics in mind, who are you taking on that run with you? Certainly not squish-faced snorty pants French Bulldog. If you’re considering investing in a running partner of the four-legged variety, research the breed’s natural athletic abilities. Not to say that some dogs of not so athletic breeds can’t run with you. My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was the best 10 KM run partner there was; but maybe it’s just because I’m really not a fast runner. Even better yet, consider adopting a mixed breed pup. They often inherit the genetic qualities of different breeds and can become fantastic running companions.


Genetics aside, most dogs will need some kind of running training. I think my Cavalier’s propensity to stick with me on long runs was because her recall was rock solid which meant that I could call her away from any distraction. That desire to be around me, meant that she needed very little formal running training. The German Shepherd cross rescued from Texas that I proudly call my working guide dog is a whole different story. This dog may know her left from right, but her enthusiasm for life gets the better of her once we start running and she’s a wrecking ball. Our first couple of runs ended even before they started because she was bouncing and twirling around and jumping on me. Way too much enthusiasm. I had to be willing to halt my own plans of a workout and work with her to show her what was expected of her. We are now at the point, four months later, where she can reliably run at my side. She still needs an extra five minutes scheduled into the beginning of the run for twirling and bouncing, but with a little more time and patience, she’s going to be a dream to run with.


Have you, or anyone you know, tried to run a five kilometer straight off of the couch? There are probably some superhumans out there who could do it, but I remember my first tentative attempts at running and they did not feel good. 45 seconds in and you’re already gasping for air and your legs are on fire. I literally was going from couch to learning how to run. It wasn’t pretty. Can you imagine what your dog is thinking if you suddenly snap her leash on and start charging down a trail for 12 kilometres and she has never run with you before? Dogs seem to have boundless amounts of energy, but if you observe a dog running on its own or with its doggie friends, they tend to run in spurts; albeit fast spurts. Your dog is probably better at a fartlek than you are. It might not take your dog as long to build up running fitness as it did for me, but your dog needs conditioning just as much as you do. Most dogs won’t stop on their own if they are running with you. I learned that the hard way when my Golden Retriever/Lab cross came home after one long run with bleeding and torn-up paw pads. I hadn’t taken the time to condition her to running with me and the consequence was injury..” 


Running with your dog can be a very fulfilling experience. It’s a great way for you to bond and both of you to burn off some pent-up energy. The most important thing to keep in mind when embarking on any kind of adventure with your dog, including running, is that your dog enjoys the activity. Just like humans, dogs have likes and dislikes. Biology, training and conditioning aside, if your dog isn’t enjoying what you are doing, it’s time to choose another adventure.


Always guiding you in the right direction

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