I love to run on my own. I love to run with friends and I LOVE to run with my dog! Best of all, my dog appears to love running with me too.
Not all dogs like or are even suited to running so it’s important to find the right breed of dog to run with. Dogs that are good runners can enhance your training and help you maintain your pace. They also make the best motivators as they’re always keen, ready to go and they don’t have to faff about choosing which outfit to wear!
My dog is a cockapoo called Honey. I’m no dog expert, she was our first family dog and I chose her because she was very cute and was supposed to be a ‘hypoallergenic breed’. She does moult more than I anticipated she would but we don’t seem to be allergic to her which is a bonus.
I knew I shouldn’t run with her when she was young, to protect her joints, so I left it a full 12 months before I tried. I got her a decent harness and I’ve used different leads but a plain old short one suits us best. I just hook it over my arm and I can keep her close to me if we’re on the road. If we’re off road, I let her off and it fits in my pocket. I know there are various leads that attach to waistbands and some that are more elastic than others but we’re fine as we are.
I’m marathon training at the moment so I’ve been upping my miles which means Honey has too. We’re doing it gradually. I prefer to run my long slow runs on the road and I’m nervous about this being too hard on her paws and joints. For this reason I’ve decided that ten miles on the road is as far as I’m going to let her go. I know she can go further than this and when we run off road she probably does double my distance with all the to-ing and fro-ing and chasing rabbits.
If I’m doing more than ten road miles then I leave her at home and take her for a walk afterwards which is a good warm down for my muscles too. I intentionally give her rest days after a long run when she only has a quick walk. I have no idea whether this is essential but I’m working on the premise that my body needs it so hers probably does too!
I’ve had to increase Honey’s food. She’s a pest around food at the best of times but I think this has been worse recently due to ‘runger’. She’s stealing pancakes off the table and trying to actually get into the dishwasher to lick the plates – yuk! I’ve weighed her and she’s lost weight so I’ve increased her food at meal times and I give her a tasty treat after she’s been running.
The four main reasons I run with my dog are:
- For companionship. Sounds corny but I love my dog and enjoy spending time with her. We have some great little adventures and it’s great to be able to crash out on the sofa with her afterwards too.
- For safety. I live in a very rural location and whilst I don’t think Honey would ‘do a lassie’ and go and get help if I fell into a large hole, I do get some peace of mind that she might protect me from an attacker. She’s the most friendly dog in the world but I’m sure that she’d sense danger and use those canine teeth in this situation.
- For time-saving. I don’t have time to go for a run and then do a dog walk every day. I can manage it once a week on my long run days but for the rest of the time being able to combine her and my exercise into one is a necessary bonus. Dogs can be time consuming and there’s not a lot of time spare here!
- For dog health. Last time we went to the vet she commented on what good shape Honey was in. She’s lean and fit and I feel happy knowing that she has great exercise tolerance. I know how much better I feel when I’m fit.
“It’s a great experience running with a dog. Just Piper and I, running together but thinking about totally different things! She was like an unconditional partner, we were in it together, on a mission to get up those hills and finish the run but with none of the usual supportive chat – just both knowing it!” – Becky-
I try my best to be a responsible dog owner. She goes on the lead near sheep. I also put her on the lead or stop and hold her collar when a cyclist or other runner is coming towards us as she can be unpredictable and I hate cycling or running near dogs myself. If I’m on a narrow road and can hear a car coming then I’ll stop and move myself and the dog close up against the hedge. I ALWAYS pick up poo, even if it means I have to carry it for miles until I find a bin!
If you’re in any doubt how much my dog loves to run then have a quick look at this video clip. This is Honey having what I can only imagine is a runner’s high just after getting back from a speedy 10k run. She did this for a full ten minutes then crashed out in her basket for the rest of the day!
Do tell me about your canine running buddy in the comments.
Featured image: Explore.Adventure.Travel photography
Wet dog image: Janet Woodhouse photography
Others are my own