Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Running with Dogs

As I mentioned earlier, dogs ca make an ideal training partner. Here are some tips for those dog-running novices:
  • If you're in the market for a dog and your primary goal is to find a running partner, look for a breed that is adept at running. Sled dog breeds, sporting and hunting breeds, and herding dogs all make decent running partners. Toy breeds... not so much.
  • Dogs have issues with thermoregulation. They cannot run in hot weather like humans. Humans can cool down while moving due to our sweating mechanism. Dogs will pant to cool down, and will need to stop moving if they overheat. If your dog wants to stop and lie down, it's too hot. Don't continue forcing it to run. If you live in a warm or hot climate, you will probably have to run early in the morning, late in the evening, or at night.
  • Dogs need to work up to longer distances, just like we do. If their first run is a 20 miler, odds are good they'll get hurt.
  • Get a good leash. Avoid retractable leashes.
  • Take time training the dog. Before taking your dog out on the trails, it should be able to reliably come when called, sit, stay, and be able to run at your side without excessive pulling.



  1. This isn't terribly on topic, but I know you are looking for suggestions for the book. I think it would be great if Shelly wrote a chapter or an appendix on running ultras after giving birth. I feel like that extra reserve of labor endorphins is why women can often smoke the men in a 100 miler :) I wonder if she has any perspective on that. Probably isn't in too many of the other ultra books.

  2. Why do you say to avoid retractables? I switched to that and it gives my dog a lot more freedom on our runs out in the hills.

  3. Retractables are prone to getting caught on trees, rocks, bushes, ankles, fingers and all sorts of other badness.
    Also, the dogs learn the resistance and lengths of them, and will run right on the end, and therefore still pull you around.

    Bungee style hiking leads (leashes) are pretty good as they're similar to a sturdy fixed lead, but with a bit of shock absorbtion for when you or the dog have to suddenly go at different speeds for terrain reasons

    Best of all is to whistle train the dog (to a proper pitched whistle, try gun/hunting shops) This way no matter how out of breath you are or how windy it is on a hillside you just need to be able to do two quick pips on the whistle (mostly performed with tongue rather than lungs) and the dog will come back to your side

    I run with english working cocker spaniels, plenty of energy and obedience, but not so big that they have too much weight to carry around causeing them to get hot, damaged joints, or just stuck between rocks.
    I can throw them over fences too (cerfully, obviously ;-) )

  4. Forgot to also say, I love hiking with a normal or bungee lead that can be clipped around the waist. This frees up your arms for balance/eating etc, and also when the dog pulls against you the effective centre of gravity is lower, and it is a lot harder for the dog to pull you around, or tire your arms.
    I've not ever tried to run like this though, I'll have him off leash then and rely on my dogs desire to wonder where i'm going (He thinks if i'm going there fast it must be something reeeeely tasty or naughty!)

  5. One last thing that i keep forgetting to say Is remember that your dogs also have hydration and blood sugar needs.
    Offer them a little water every few miles or when convenient. It's very hard to force animals to drink, so it should be pretty tricky to drown them, but building up experience with your animals and learning their needs is handy for getting the balance right.

    Food-wise, I take a freezer bag with a complete puppy kibble in it. When I'm having a break, or perhaps roughly every couple of hours I'll scatter a handful on the floor (prefferably around bushes)and offer up some water to help it go down.
    Putting it in long grass/bushes causes them to slow down how fast they can gobble it all, and also cause them to engage their nose and hunt it out, which will distract them from the running for a few minutes.
    It's better to err on the side of smaller amounts more frequently, especially with kibble, as the last thing your dog wants is you making it run with a belly full of swollen biscuits in it.

    In short, your dog has very similar needs and considerations to you, hopefully if your at a point that your spending 3+ hours out and about with the dog you should hopefully have a decent bond and understanding of each others needs, so just use common sense, and try not to focus just on your own wellbeing