Running with dogs – for fitness, fun and protection
Dogs have far more enthusiasm and energy for exercise than most humans, which makes them the perfect training partner for runners. Running with your dog is more fun, more interesting and can also offer you better protection too.
Runners under threat
All too often, the news carries stories of joggers, particularly women, who have been attacked while out for a run. In 2017, three runners were killed in just nine days in the United States, in three different cities, and the problem is just as troubling here in the UK.
A survey by magazine, Runner’s World found that 43% of women have been harassed while out running, rising to 58% amongst the under 30s. Even more worryingly, 30% of respondents had been followed by someone while out running, and 18% had been sexually propositioned.
Running with a dog may not stop this type of harassment altogether, but the right animal will certainly deter attacks and make you feel safer as you run.
Choosing your running mate
Not all types of dog are right for running. Young dogs, who have yet to fully form their joints, and older dogs, who have joint issues of their own, should not go running. You’ll also find that certain breeds are better suited to running than others. Dogs with short legs may struggle to keep pace, while flat nosed breeds (known as brachycephalic breeds) may not be able to breathe well enough for sustained exercise.
Larger dogs, such as our family protection dogs, as well as medium sized working dogs, such as collies and springer spaniels, are ideal training partners and will match you stride for stride for as far as you want to go.
Training your dog
Like any running partner, your dog will not be able to go from couch to 10k in a single step. They will need to build up distance just like a human runner. They will also need time to adjust to your pace and learn what is expected of them on a run. You should make sure you have good control by attending dog obedience classes, then start with a longish lead of four to six foot, to keep control of your dog without them getting under your feet.
As you get used to running together, and your dog learns the essential obedience commands, you will ultimately be able to let your dog lose, without them running away or getting distracted by other dogs or people while you run.
Benefits for you both
Running with your dog will not only make you feel safer, it will benefit your pet too. A study of 1600 family dogs last year found that 65% of adult dogs were overweight and 9% were classed as obese. Running is a great way to exercise your dog and keep it fit and healthy, and it doesn’t take any extra time – in fact by combining your run with his walk, you will actually free up more time in your day. Running is also a great way for active dogs to burn off all that excess energy from being stuck indoors all day.
If you’d like to start running with your dog, but don’t feel you have enough control to make it work, then A&T Trained Dogs can help. Our expert dog trainers will work with you and your dog to give you the commands and the confidence you need to relax and enjoy your run, knowing that your dog will behave itself all the way around your route.