Dogs are the best running companions. They don’t talk back, or try to persuade you to call it a day, and they’re always excited for a run even if it’s 5:15 am and they can’t see the nose in front of their face. However, there are some issues I’ve encountered when running with my dog that I thought I would share.
I am 100% a dog person. I love dogs. I will probably spend more time with your dog than with you. I have a little Boston Terrier named Ruby and she is the light of my life. She’s likely cuter than your first-born. Evidence:
This is her looking ugly. Her puppy face would melt the Arctic.
Of course, she requires exercise and so do I. However, our preferred methods of exercise are too different to be compatible. Boston Terriers are small dogs, weighing about 20lbs on average. They also have short little mushed up faces and it’s adorable… but not very conducive to endurance running. This is one problem with having a dog as your running companion; like humans, sometimes they’re just not as fit as you. Ruby loves her walks and she loves to spend her time sniffing around at stuff, but if she tries to keep up with my pace, she can’t do any of that. By around kilometer 6, she’s done. I love her for trying and never complaining but I know she’d have more fun on a walk. And to be honest, waiting for her really slows my roll guys. So she gets left behind.
But, there is a vast variety of breeds that can not only keep up with you, they will outrun you and want more runs the second they get home. These include larger dogs like German Short-Haired Pointers, German Shepherds, any sort of retriever, Dalmatians, etc etc. Pointers are a personal favourite of mine:
They actually do this instinctually. Major pro; constant reason to laugh at them.
These types of dogs, with larger statures, hunting genes, and fully protruding snouts are, by my research, the best kind of breeds for running companions. Jack Russells as well, despite those little legs, are very good at keeping up.
But you know what’s best? Get a dog that loves you and needs a home… and train them! Of course a dog won’t immediately be able to run a 15 miler with you right off the bat! Could you pull that off without any training? Dogs, like humans, need to build up their endurance. Unfortunately, I never took the time to do that with Ruby and now it’s too late. Of course, I could go back to a run/walk program like I started with… but I don’t want to. And that’s that. She likes walking more anyway, and this way, I get a second workout.
The second issue is well, you know, whether or not the dog’ll stick around for the run. Other options include sprinting into the woods after a squirrel, lingering behind to sniff someone’s butt and getting lost, and following the tempting smell of that dog that passed that tree that one time.
This is a matter of training. Even if your dog is on leash, they can still seriously bring down a run by tugging on the leash, stopping unexpectedly, or lunging at other dogs. This is annoying and could actually injure you. If off leash and untrained… all hell will break loose and you know it. Thankfully my Ruby is an angel off leash and we live in an area that allows it. She sticks about twenty feet behind me and if she gets distracted, I can get her focus back on me with a simple whistle and promise of a carrot. I’ve run on the road with her on leash though and it sucked hard. She was weaving in and around me and I nearly tripped and took us both to an early grave. Rather than train her to better on leash… I just stopped taking her on the road. Lazy yes, but effective.
So if you want to take your dog with you, on leash or off, save yourself some misery and put in the effort to train him or her. Obedience classes are a must to learn the basics, and constant reinforcement is crucial. Do you remember your Canadian history? No? NOBODY DOES. Because we never practice it. So train and practice and you and your dog will have the time of your lives running together.
Happy training everyone!