Running with man/woman’s best friend.
Shelli, was a dog handler in the police for many years and a Scott Athlete and here she offers her advice for running with your dog....
Sometimes we all need a little motivation to leave the house, especially after a long day at work or when the weather is particularly poor, however add in a 4 legged friend and you have an enthusiastic partner who can't wait to get out.
Your 4 legged friend will always be happy to see you, can't wait to go out and run, and be an added protection for solo jaunts.
Running is a great way to help keep you and your pet fit and well, and can be good for dogs of all shapes and sizes (quite like people really). Even small dogs can run- just because they look like a handbag dog doesn't mean they won't enjoy a park run, just bear in mind the terrain they're going to be running on, very wet boggy ground or large crags could make it difficult for little legs.
Running may well be good for an anti social dog, as they move past other dogs and people before they have a chance to engage, helping to make your exercise time together more pleasurable.
Introduce running slowly if this will be new to your pet, for young dogs make sure they have finished growing (breed specific) approximately 12-18mths, however you can get them used to running next to you by bringing in a short run during their walk.
So what do you need?
- 4 legged pooch
- Harness- takes the pressure away from the neck (can also be used as a trigger to let the dog know its a run not a family walk)
- Lead- ones with an elasticated section can take the impact out of a sudden wee stop or interesting smell, some you can clip around your waist to allow you hands free.
- Fluorescent coat and collar for dark nights
- Poo bags (make sure you clean up after your pet).
- Name tag with a mobile number on for a quick reunion, from experience of missing a dog and finding dogs, especially in new areas to your pet this is an invaluable tool.
- Good footwear for you on trails/wet ground (Shelli wears & recommends Scott Supertrac)
- Pack or waist belt to carry poo bags, phone, keys. (Try the Summit TR as a great dog runners pack)
- Water and bowl at the car for return.
- Towel to dry them
Must do’s - Essential Doggy Health
- Hydration- during your run especially if panting and certainly afterwards
- Check for ticks if rural areas
- Check pads and toenails for rips, tears, and thorns.
- Cool down- for both you and your dog allows temperature and heart rate to slow down.
- Make sure you leave at least 1 hour after feeding before running, and at least 30 minutes after a run before feeding to make sure they don't get bloat (where the dogs stomach bloats or twists, 25%- 33% of dogs with GDV- gastric dilation volvulus will die).
If you are choosing a new dog with running in mind, a few considerations for you:
- Family friendly (if you have children/but also applicable for meeting children en route)
- Social breed (helps with other dogs and makes running more pleasurable)
- Capable of running (an English Bull dog isn't the best choice)
- One you can handle without being pulled over once they start running.
Some generalisations of typical breeds chosen for running
- Huskies-have a tendency to escape so while great while you are running, will they fit your home life?
- Beagles will love running but unless you want to be out for hours looking for them best kept on a lead.
- Collies- very active and need plenty of exercise otherwise will become destructive (although this could be said for the majority of breeds)
- Labradors- check for hip and leg problems, tend to have a shorter running career than a collie for instance.
- Greyhounds- great sprinters but not endurance runners.
- Small dogs- may fit home life better but still capable of running especially terrier breeds (watch out for prey drive through-chasing stock).
- Vizlas/Weimaraners/pointers- all very good breeds for running just bear in mind their size for your home and car.
- Heinz 57- generally strong, capable breeds, with none of the breeding problems seen in many pedigree dogs.
Give running a try with any breed, shape or size and see how it goes, then progress to a Canicross class and meet other like minded owners and dogs.