This weekend I took Chewie, my three year old Siberian Husky on his longest run to date: 13.1 miles. It was a great run for both of us at the Upper Tampa Bay Trail here in Tampa.
In my opinion, running alone is ok, running with a human running buddy is better, but running with your dog is the best! Although humans do like running, dogs LOVE it and seeing their happy faces when I get out the harness is a surefire way to get me more excited to log some miles. I’ve been running with my husky Chewie for the last two years, and have learned a lot along the way. Of course, every situation is different, so let me know what works for you as well!
Here are some tips to get the most out of running with your pup.
1) Training and consistency are key! If you are just starting out, likely your dog will speed up, slow down, run in front of you, behind you, go on the right and left. This is frustrating! As soon as you are out the door, keep your dog on your right side, and stick to your pace. This is easier said than done, since your dog will want to sprint at the beginning. In our case, Chewie learns to judge how far we are going best on out and back runs. I started with 3 miles and gradually increased by adding a mile or two each week, up to 13 miles. On the last run, he started to lag a bit around 6 miles, but once we reached the turnaround point, he know how far we had left and went back to a steady pace that we maintained for the remainder of the run.
2) Get a waist leash belt. I cannot stress this one enough. I use one similar to this, purchased on Amazon for under $30: http://www.amazon.com/Buddy-System-Adjustable-Running-Regular/dp/B0002ZAZLC/ref=sr_1_11?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1454692196&sr=1-11&keywords=leash+hands+free+waist
The trick is to wear it around your chest and shoulders, instead of your waist. I found that my balance is better and I feel more in control this way. By using the waist leash, your hands are free to swing by your hips, and if your dog decides to take off after a squirrel, you will have control and won’t drop the leash. Seriously. Life. Changing.
3) Pay attention to the weather. Here in Florida, it gets HOT, and dogs overheat a lot easier than humans do. Dogs cool themselves through panting and their paws, and should not run when it is hot. Just like humans, dogs will adapt to the weather, but for safety, I leave them at home when the temperature is above 80F (and above 60-70% humidity) and I’m planning to run for more than 25 minutes.
For mild weather (70-80F), we stop for a water break every 3 miles, to make sure my dog is not getting overheated. For those of you up north, what do you differently in the winter? Are dog booties necessary?
4) Consider using a dog back pack. Although somewhat costly, backpacks are a great way to make sure you have enough water, and can carry plastic bags. The one I have is made by Ruffwear (http://www.ruffwear.com/Singletrak-Pack-Dog-Pack?sc=2&category=13). It doesn’t move around a lot, and comes with two water bladders. One great thing about Chewie carrying his own water, is that I don’t have to plan runs around accessible water stops. He can also carry my ID and keys 🙂