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What stops you from running with your dog? 3 myths about running with dogs
November 27, 2014
Many of my fellow runners have dogs. A few have never taken their dogs on a run with them – not even once. Out of curiosity, I asked them the reasons for this. I discovered that there are plenty of ‘old wives’ tales’ in circulation. Most of these need to be thrown out of the window.
This post contains 3 common myths about running with dogs that I’d like to expose.
Myth No. 1: “I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a dog”.
So, your dog can easily beat you in a sprinting contest? That’s great! It means (1) your dog can run (2) they are probably in good shape.
The myth of a dog’s ability to accelerate and run 100 times faster than their owners is one of the strongest deterrents around: the vision of a dog sprinting away and disappearing beyond the horizon within the first minute or so of running… the image of the owner sweating and breathless while trying to keep up with their pooch… the idea that owners are slow, out of shape, turtles compared to the fast, powerful canine “running machines”… Time out!
It is not a race. When your dog becomes your running partner, they will have to learn how to be one with you. This means running close to you without pulling on the leash, and at your pace. If you have been walking around the same block at the same speed for a long time, your Fido will be pleasantly surprised to find that you do have a gear switch and are capable of something faster than a casual walk. It will take some time to make your dog understand what running together is all about, but it is well worth the effort. Learn more about the benefits of running with your dog.
Myth No. 2: “Only amateur runners run with their dogs”.
This makes sense… if your run is devoted to breaking your old personal best (PB) record. A dog may indeed break concentration, and it takes a while to get back “in the zone” when running with your dog. Some well-known runners even insist on training at empty tracks and on lonely trails, so as never to be interrupted; but modern-day runners seldom have the chance to run on empty, car- and people-free roads and trails.
The reality is that the majority of us only spend a small fraction of our runs testing the limits of our endurance – running for PB or very long distances. Most runs are aimed at maintaining performance, conserving energy and taking your time. Dogs are great at lighting up those routine slower runs. They bring cheer and fun to training, reminding you to look around and enjoy your run. Moreover, the interruptions, dropping in and out of your pace, may actually strengthen your cardiovascular system and improve your running performance.
Myth No. 3: “Tied to their owners, red tongues lolling, exhausted… Running is a torture for dogs”.
Sometimes I hear complaints from people who think a dog has their tongue out due to overexertion. Panting is the primary way dogs sweat, and they dissipate the majority of their body heat through this method. Running is a sport, and these dogs are simply exercising!
I wish for every dog to pant at least once a day and stay fit.
A healthy dog should be able to run. Running is a natural way for dogs to release their energy. In general, long-legged dogs of hound, sporting, working and hunting breeds are very well suited for regular jogging.
This is not to say dogs of other breeds are not well suited for running. Even Bichon Frise, a small dog of toy breed, can run 16 km (10 miles) per week. Find out what breeds are best suited for running (and what breeds are not).