Wednesday, March 28, 2018

GUEST POST: Running with a Dog by Michelle

Wednesdays are normally reserved for Walt the Wiener Dog, but I thought this guest post from Michelle was perfect. Walt isn't much of a runner (he ran a quarter mile before he was "over it" in our recent Santa Mile), but I'll never give up on him!

I recently told the hubby that I want the next pup we rescue to be able to go on runs with me. With that said, Michelle has some great tips for running with your dogs that she'd love to share (and that may come in handy for us sometime in the future... when we have more space...). So grab your four-legged friend, snuggle up and get your read on!

I've been running and racing with my dogs for over eight years. A dog is what originally got me off the couch and onto roads and trails so I wanted to share some tips and tricks I've found beneficial for racing with your four-legged friends!

Similar to people starting an exercise regimen, take your dog to see a vet before starting any intensive running. Start slow and easy. Make sure to find a training plan that works up distance gradually, just as you would if you were starting out.

Gear matters! I prefer the Hurtta Padded Y Harness over a collar to keep pressure off of the dog's neck. The Padded Y Harness allows for full shoulder extension, has comfortable padding to cut down on chaffing, and comes in super bright colors with reflectivity sewn in. I also prefer Stunt Puppy’s Hands-Free Leash. The waist belt is super comfortable and moves as my dog moves, which allows them to comfortably change positions to run in front, beside, or behind me.

If you are planning to run a race with your dog, always check with the race director to make sure the rules allow for them - never assume! Enter your dog and pay the fee if there is one. Make sure to learn the rules about water stops or aid stations (for example, find out if you need to bring water and/ or a collapsible bowl for your dog and if they can be watered or fed near the aid stations). Always move to the side and allow runners full access to the aid stations. And this should go without saying, but ALWAYS bring poop bags and pick up after your dog! I try to have my dogs go potty before the race, but we all understand that accidents happen, so be like a boy/girl scout and be prepared.

While running with your pup, pay attention to runners around you and their intentions. I always start at the back of the field and work my way into my desired pace. While passing runners, I keep my dog close to avoid potentially blocking others. Also, getting to a place where people are only passing on one side is very helpful. If it is a trail race, be very considerate of other runners on single track spots. Some runners will allow their dog off leash at trail races, so be aware. 

For dog themed races, be aware that most dogs at these events have never been in large crowds and may be stressed or over stimulated. Don't let your dog wander up and get into the face of any other dog. Do not allow rude greetings and give other excited dogs the space they need. If your dog seems overwhelmed by all the action, grab some treats and back up a distance. Sit there a while and treat your dog, letting them relax before moving closer to reduce stress.

A starting line can be hectic, but there are ways to help your race start out on the right foot. First, be prepared for your dog's reaction to a mass start. With all the excitement, dogs tend to get SUPER excited and pull like sled dogs! Since most races are held in the morning, be aware of the potential for wet grass and pulling pups (which can create a slippery situation). Also, most runners with dogs will have them on leash, so keep your dog close to avoid tangling leashes.

Having a four-legged running partner can be very rewarding and can be that extra push you need to lace up your running shoes and hit the road. Hopefully these tips help you and your dog(s) to have many fun and fulfilling miles together. 

If you'd like to follow Michelle and her running pups on your favorite social media platform, make sure to bookmark her blog, Running With Reds, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter. I can't wait to put some of these tips into practice!

Do you have a pet that you run with?

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