Dog Gone Running – When Your Running Partner is a Pooch

When I lace up my running shoes Tippy goes on alert.  An Aussie/Border Collie who can pratically read my mind, Tippy knows that most days I run alone or with my husband, but sometimes, when the mileage and my mood mean I want a furry friend to come along, he gets to go too.  Silently he waits, his eyes tracking every move, his ears perked with anticipation.  If I reach for the leash he jumps at the invitation and gives a happy bark, like an exclamation point.  Then he wiggles with excitement, struggling to sit long enough for me to slide the leash over his nose.  I think, perhaps, he loves to run more than I do.

Here’s what I’ve learned about running with a dog:

Know Your Breed and Check with the Vet
You know how every exercise program under the sun tells you to consult your doctor first? This goes for Spot too.  Just like people, not all dog breeds are built the same.  Some breeds can run for miles with Kenyan-style efficiency and enthusiasm while others should probably stick to leisurely strolls around the neighborhood.  If your dog is prone to hip dyplasia or wheezes a lot, for example, running could be cruel.  So, ask your vet during Spot’s next checkup.  Not only will she know the genetic health issues to consider, she can give advice based on your furry friend’s age, weight and current condition.

Finish basic obedience first
If you and Fido haven’t mastered a well-mannered walk or the “come” command you aren’t ready to run together.

I learned this the hard way with my former furry friend Mattie, another Aussie/Border Collie.  When I went for my first run with Mattie she was anxious-to-please but didn’t have a clue what to do on a leash because I hadn’t taught her yet (or she hadn’t taught me).  When we both turned the same way to dodge an obstacle on the sidewalk we tangled feet and fell in a heap.  My poor pooch broke my fall with a yelp but I still bloodied both palms and knees.  We limped home and didn’t try it again until we’d had more practice walking and heeling.

Consider Some Helpful Gear
Of course, it’s always best to use a leash and carry a poop bag, but there are some other nifty gadgets that can make your run more fun.

  • Two-dog Running:  I love my coupler, a short Y-shaped leash extension that allows me to attach one leash to both beasts.  They stay side-by-side where they’ll automatically match each other’s pace without any tangling of leads.  It’s perfect when you can’t bear to leave one dog home while the other runs.
  • Pull-free Running:  I use a nose harness with Tippy so he doesn’t pull or yank, even if he sees a squirrel.  Like the name implies, it has a piece that goes over his nose and attaches to the leash behind his head. If he does see a squirrel and pull it pushes his nose down and he immediately stops before I’ve felt the tug.

    No. This is not a muzzle. If he wanted to he could still bite.

  • Hands-free Running:  You can slide the leash handle over a running belt, or purchase one designed for that purpose.
  • Hydrated Running: I haven’t used it on a run yet because I don’t take Tippy more than 4 miles, but when we hike I carry a water bottle that has an attached cover that’s essentially a small trough.

    It even comes with a handy clip

    Just open it up and let the lapping begin

Make Sure It’s Fun For Everyone
When Tippy runs with me I have a companion and protector who casts adoring glances at me.  In return I watch to make sure he’s hydrated and happy, that he has opportunity to relieve himself and doesn’t over-exert or over-heat.  And if I lifted the leash and Tippy didn’t get all excited, I’d leave him home.  I also leave him home on long run days, when I’m running with music and when I want to go for a particular pace.  It’s not that he can’t keep up.  He’s faster than I am.  But if I need to concentrate I’m not giving him the attention he deserves.  Afterall, he’s my best friend.

Happily tired - check out that tongue

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  • My dog runs with me at least 4 days a week. She gets excited as soon as I get dressed and when I pull out the jogging stroller, she goes nuts! She’s a hound and she’s built to run for hours. She’s gone for as long as 10.5 miles and she drinks from my water bottle. 🙂

    • Lucky doggie! Tippy would be so jealous. He’s built for sheep herding so he has both speed and endurance and I know he’d happily go as far as I let him, but I’ve only taken him on shorter runs. Do you leash your pup to the stroller? That’s impressive that you can run with a stroller and a kiddo. I never mastered that art.

  • My Charlie gets to go for runs with me on rare occasions. I’m ashamed to say we’ve not trained him very well. The nose thingy? Yes, he’s got one of those, but if there’s a squirrel involved, nothing will dissuade him from thinking he is going to GET IT! You’ve got just the right breed for running, that’s for sure. My brother and his wife got a border collie once and no clue how much exercise that breed needs! By the way, I love the name Tippy!!

    • Well, you know Charlie will keep you safe from all squirrels. LOL. Those little critters seem to love taunting dogs! Tippy almost caught one once when he was off leash. I wish I could take credit for the name but it came with him when we adopted him last year.

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