Let me start off by saying, I hate running. I follow that by saying, I love the hell out of my Siberian Husky. It just so happens that for the last 9 years, as all huskies do, he's had an infinite amount of energy. If he doesn't get that energy out, he wears that crankiness on his sleeve (see image below). So over the course of the last decade, Griffey and I have become pretty avid runners, and although I don't love pure running, I've come to thank him for keeping me in shape and always being a loyal running partner.
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Here are some of the lessons I've come to know and appreciate when running with a canine companion:
As Cesar Millan will tell you, dogs want to follow their alpha leader. This is certainly the case on a run. It may take time and conditioning, but teaching your dog to follow you is essential. The dog should not be dictating the pace...the dog should not be telling you when he wants to slow down or speed up. He certainly should not be pulling you. Likewise, you need to instill trust in your dog. Think if you were running through busy streets with phone polls and random strangers. Your dog can't see what you see so they may be more timid or try to create their own path. It's up to you to condition and create trust so they follow your lead.
A run may see like a time where your dog can get out there and just book it as fast as he can. In most cases, he's going to run into other dogs or people that want to play, but this isn't a walk. A walk is his time...a run is yours. Again, as the alpha leader teaching him/her that this isn't his social time is very important. On a walk, he can sniff plants and mark fire hydrants all day. On the run, it's your time and until you give him the green light to go into walk mode, he should know abide by that.
This is the reason SportLeash was created. After years of running with a leash on my arm and trialling tons of waist leashes that just didn't work, we set out to create the best hands free solution we could find. To date, we have a great everyday alternative in the SportLeash Recreation Pro which can be used as a 3-in-1 hands free leash. In the near future we have several more performance alternatives to run and hike with your dog. Stay tuned!
The importance of the right equipment just can't be stressed enough. Running with a hands free leash has been said to improve your workout by up to 35%, not to mention it just feels 10 times more natural. Additionally, if you have a dog that wants to pull you (been there, done that!), find yourself a prong or choke collar that your comfortable with to minimize the pulling. Note, these get a bad wrap, but for those of us who use them correctly, after the first week or so the dog merely hears the clicking and stops pulling - he very rarely feels much of a pinch at the end of the day. Lastly, poo bags - never leave home without them! If you're going on a run, you're going to be loosening up some bowls. Make sure you don't forget this because we all know that stink eye you're going to get from your neighbors if you leave a steamer in their yard.
*Heads up, we have 2 new SportLeash products debuting this fall that will offer not only a hands free leash sytem, but also a slot for a phone, headphones, wallet/credit card, keys, and a roll of poo bags. We've been testing these systems out for a while and honestly we still run with it even on Griffey's off days.
Just like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. They're not going to learn how to be a great running partner over night. It will take time...be patient with them, after all they only want to please you! Familiarize them with certain trails and certain routes as it will make them feel more comfortable. Always find the same spot to rest, get water, or go to the bathroom...the dog looks forward to these spots in the run and it's important to familiar him with them.
Just like you know yourself better than any doctor, you know your dog better than any vet. Young dogs shouldn't be run much and certainly not pushed to the max. Older dogs need to be paced as well - Griffey used to happily push me at 5 miles a day...now he'll literally look at me and tell me he can't make it on a 2 mile run today. We all know our dogs...don't push them to beyond their limits if they tell you they can't do it.