Running with the pup has not been, shall we say, easy. I have been bitten, tripped, yanked, and wildly embarrassed at the park near our house. Most of the tips I have seen online for running with your dog are a lot of common sense, dog-safety tips. Don’t make your dog run on glass, or ice, or in 100 degree heat, or for 30 miles. Some dogs aren’t made for running. Pick up after your dog. And so on.
I have decided to make a list of my own to help us with imperfect pups to get through a run with both parties happy and bite-mark free.
1. Use a short leash. This came up on a few of the lists I saw– specifically not to use a retractable leash– but I didn’t realize its importance until I tripped this past weekend. Use a short leash, and take up the slack as you run.
2. Be conscientious when passing others. Our pup will sometimes pass other people like he doesn’t even know they exist; and sometimes he will lunge at them with such forcefulness that all four paws are airborne. I have yet to figure out why he responds the way he does, so I always hold him close when passing other people. I actually use a leash with a handle near the collar.
3. Choose a route with few distractions. This is hard for me to balance with the desire to not run alone. But it is true that Mowgli does much better when we are running by ourselves down a trail than in circles in the park.
4. Use a harness. Months ago at puppy class, the trainer recommended an easy-walk harness that clips around the dogs torso and attaches to the leash in front– so that when you apply pressure, you are turning the dog towards you. We have used this harness ever since. When we are going somewhere particularly exciting (and distracting) I will use a gentle leader collar; but Mowgli thinks that is a weapon of torture straight from hell and will stop spontaneously and try claw it off in the middle of a run.
5. Don’t be afraid to leave him in the car. I have done this a few times now when it is obvious that the pup only wants to play. I will walk him while I am warming up and cooling down– but when I need some focused running, he waits for me in the car.
I still debate some days if I should just leave him at home. But regardless of how crazy he is on the trail, the post-run tired-dog is always worth it.
What tips would you add to this list?