Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sporty Sunday: Running With Your Dog - Preparation

Are you ready to start running with your dog? First, let’s make sure that your dog is suitable, healthy, and properly equipped.

Suitability. A youngish, medium-sized dog with a normal snout is going to make the best running companion. This dog will have the energy, leg length, and proper airway to run more than a few blocks. I do have a friend who runs with a chihuahua, so small breeds aren’t necessarily eliminated. Large breeds may be prone to hip problems. Older dogs may also have joint issues that make running uncomfortable. Flat-faced dogs can experience inefficient breathing and cooling, making running uncomfortable or even deadly.

Vet Clearance. Schedule a checkup for Fido and ask your vet if your dog can start running with you. Your vet will consider the factors discussed above as well as age and any other discovered health issues.

Equipment. I recommend running with a body harness. Jasper’s harness is a back-clip model, but a front-clip would work as well. I do not recommend running with your leash attached to a standard collar, a choke collar, a pinch collar, or a head halter (e.g. Halti). At running speeds, a sudden lunge when your dog spots a squirrel can injure his head or neck. When choosing a harness, look for a well-made, durable, and soft model. Nylon harnesses can chafe. Jasper’s is made of a soft, soy fiber material (the New Earth Soy Comfort Wrap Dog Harness). A front-clip harness will give you more control of the dog’s direction.

Use a standard (i.e. non-retractable) leash made of leather or natural fiber. Nylon leashes can give you leash burn. Personally, I use a ROK Strap leash. The leash stretches, making any doggie lunges less jarring to the handler. It also features a non-stretch loop near the base for leading the dog through crowded areas. I find this useful as we negotiate the light-rail station. The leash has excellent reviews (on Amazon) and I’ve heard good stories about the company’s response to leash failures. I demonstrate the leash’s stretch in the below video:

Next up: Getting Started!

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