Anyone know who knows me or follows me on socials knows there are two very special pooches in my life, 6 year old lab x kelpie Freddo and his slightly OCD adopted younger sister, 4 year old kelpie Charlie.
Freddo is just like any other lab, he loves people and food, in no particular order. He’s also partial to a frisbee and going to the beach.
Charlie loves nothing more than a tennis ball. Big, small, chewed up, wet and smelly, she doesn’t discriminate. She loves to chew them, chase them and balance them on anything with an edge. She has quite a few little quirks, some undiagnosed OCD and loves a cuddle.
They both love running.
We started running with Freddo a little earlier than we should have (vets he really recommend 12-18 months old depending on the breed) and he loved it straight away.
Freddo is more into the exploring than the running itself, so he comes along for scheduled “easy runs” or runs where multiple pee/poop/sniff/swim stops don’t disrupt my training. He’s never in hurry, even when a rabbit or another dog goes past, he re-thinks his desire to sprint after about 2 seconds.
If you don’t pay attention, Freddo will likely cut you off and trip you up or sneak off and roll in a fresh squirt of duck shit or anything equally as smelly and vile.
Charlie is exactly the opposite. Once the harness is on and we are out the door, it’s all guns blazing, chariots of fire blaring in the background, try and keep up, sprint to exhaustion style running. The neighbours often call out why my dog is running me! She doesn’t deviate from the footpath, ever. She only crosses the road at driveways or footpath crossovers and up until recently wouldn’t even stop to pee (she’d hold it until we got home). Charlie is great for a 5km time trial.
I love running with my dogs but it’s not always easy to know where to start, so here are my 5 tips, tricks and gear recommendations.
1. Make sure you have the vet’s tick of approval.
Not all dogs should be runners. Joint issues, age and size can all impact a dogs ability to go out with you for a run, as opposed to a walk on a lead or a trot around an off lead dog park. Make sure you get signed off, you’d hate to do permanent damage to your furry friend.
2. Have a training plan
Most humans can’t just go out a run a 10k, so don’t expect your dog too either. Build them up slowly, in individual runs and also weekly total. I don’t know if the 10% rule applies to dogs but I think it should, maybe even 5%. When you increase your mileage too quickly you risk injury, same goes for your pooch.
3. Keep an eye on the weather
Dogs generally don’t wear shoes (more on that later!) and they dissipate most of their heat through their mouths and their feet.
If it’s warm out, if the road is too hot for your bare feet it is definitely too hot for theirs.
Always take water with you (for them not you!) and go on routes that have water available for your dogs. Mine love to swim and if we are going more than 3km always have a dip in lake to cool off.
I’d also avoid using a gentle leader style harness when running as it restricts the dogs ability to breath and therefore dissipate heat.
4. It’s at the dogs pace, not yours
One of the main welfare rules of running with dogs, you go at their pace, not yours.
Charlie goes way too fast for me and would probably much rather run with my faster other half, whereas Freddo is never in a rush and sometimes I’m embarrassed to post his runs on Strava. But that’s part of running with dogs, if you have a specific time to hit or intervals to do, it’s not the run to do with your dog.
5. Dog running gear is totally a thing!
Ever found yourself drowning in all the gear options for trail running, watches, shoes, packs, water holders, you name it, there are hundreds of companies vying for your hard earned dollars.
Enter the dog running gear market. I’m not just talking about collars and leads (but these are important) I’m talking shoes, running packs, collapsable bowls and more.
For routine runs around the block, I use an Ezydog hands free lead, Ezy Dog harness and “Oh Crap” cornstarch dog poo bags.
For longer excursions, we have a Tail Up running pack, a silicone collapsable bowl and we make them carry their own water in regular soft flasks.
I’ve also just bought Charlie some trail shoes as she tends to drag her feet a bit on the trails.
I prefer harnesses over leads for comfort for the dogs but also for control for me in case they want to chase another dog or a kangaroo.
At the end of the day, dogs just want to be with you. They are great training companions and don’t understand your excuses for not wanting to go on that 4am run.
Hopefully these tips with help you get out and about with your furry friend.
I am not a vet, please ensure you run everything relating to your pooch by your actual veterinarian, not just the internet