How (Not) To Go Running With Your Dog

Things have warmed up a bit since I wrote How (Not) To Go Running In The Snow, and upstate New York is beginning the slow, sloooow journey toward springtime. I thought now would be a good time to address the best way to go running with your dog. Or, at least, what works for me.

This post would not be possible without my number one running buddy, Harper. She is an almost-8-year-old English Setter. I got her from the shelter a few years ago, and we’ve been besties ever since. Well, I think she’s a 8-year-old English Setter. Due to the whole shelter thing I don’t really know much about her. Sometimes I think they just make stuff up. It’s like having a witness protection program member living with me, because I can’t really ever ask about her former life. Anyway. Running. Here we go.

(1) Gather all of your stuff. That’s probably like, some shoes. Now get your dog’s stuff. Collapsible water bowl, poop bags, collar, leash, personal identification, etc.

(2) Do all of the above in as stealthy a manner as possible, because as soon as your dog sees you wearing sneakers or holding keys, it is ON.

(3) Oh, shoot. The dog saw you. The dog always sees you. Watch as she prances and turns circles.

(4) Do any pre-run  stretches or warmups now. Oh I’m sorry, does your dog actually stand still when you are at the park or on the trail, and allow you to do lunges and arm circles? You’re cute.

(5) Wrestle the collar/leash onto your dog. My dog knows that I do not put her leash on until she is sitting in front of me. This is ostensibly to make her less wiggly, but actually because it is HILARIOUS. She gets so exciting that she’s trembling.

(6) Let the animal run to the car, because you will not run well with a dislocated shoulder. Wait, so your dog trots calmly at your side on the way to your vehicle? Fun.

(7) Watch the dog try to get in the front seat even though she clearly cannot drive. Nice try, pup. BTW, my dog rides in a crate in the back seat — I cannot recommend this method enough.

(8) Get to your destination, and start a slow warmup lap.

(9) Stop 45 seconds later. The dog is pooping. Backtrack another 30 seconds to the closest garbage can.

(10) Run for real. This is going well! The dog is probably looking up at you and dog-smiling and you’re feeling pretty great about your choices.

(11) One mile in, and the dog is pooping again. You are nowhere near a trash bin. No big deal. You run with the leash in one hand and the poop bag in another.

(12) SQUIRREL! Try not to get tangled as the dog lunges in front of you to chase a squirrel. Fall, probably.

(3) How many times can one dog poop? You may be out of bags by now. Try to remember to get one from your car and deal with this before you leave. Nobody wants to be that person.

(14) See an unleashed dog in the distance. Darn. Call out to see if an owner is there. You hear the most dreaded words a dog owner ever speaks: “ Don’t worry, he’s friendly!”. Dog owners who say “don’t worry, he’s friendly!” while walking an unleashed dog are, in my experience, frequently big liars. They just don’t want you to freak out by saying “WORRY! He’s an a-hole.”*

(15) The dog is… not friendly. Run faster. Hey look, you’re interval training! Cool.

(16) Change your route so that you won’t pass them again.

(17) Water break! In the 30 seconds you are stopped, meet another dog owner who wants to tell you that you are using an inhumane collar. This is inevitable because for every single kind of dog collar, from regular collar to Martingale to prong, there is someone who very passionately believes that (1) it is inhumane and (2) your life would be better if you tried the thing that their dog uses.**

(18) Start running again.

(19) Peeing? Ughh fine. Does your dog only stop once per run? Now you’re just bragging and frankly, I don’t like it.

(20) If your dog is a big panter/drooler, now’s about the time someone will make a comment about how hot your dog is. If you know that your dog is fine, a simple smile and “I know, right?” will do. Keep going. Around now is when I thank the lord that I don’t have children, because I know parents get this feedback but a million times worse (Always as well-meaning questions: “oh you’re potty training already?”/ “You haven’t read Happiest Baby on the Block?”/ “You bottle feed?”/ “Your baby wasn’t delivered in a Lake of Shining Waters by a nun and a civil war reenactor?”)

(21) Oh, come on — a family with kids. You’re not going to be running for a sec. My dog loves children and children love my dog, so I don’t really say no to kids who want to pet her. But I do feel bad that she slobbers all over them. Oops.

(22) Run for real for another few miles.

(23) Reach an area with water or mud. It wouldn’t be a proper run if you dog didn’t come home looking like a swamp creature.

(24) You’re done! Drive home with all the windows down because the air smells like dog breath concentrate. Also because your dog is probably fogging the heck out of your windows.

(25) Water all around! Then collapse on the floor with your dog. Until next time!

This was taken after H and I collapsed on the floor after a run. Pretty much how we roll.

*In case you think I’m oversensitive, my dog was attacked at a leash-only park while the owner stood by and didn’t get his dog. I had to pay serious $$$ for shots for her. And it was my birthday. Also as a child I was VERY frequently chased by neighborhood dogs that were guarding the drug houses across the street and next door to me.

** I’ll probably get judged for this too, but my dog is a puller. I got her at 5 years old and her habits were set. I have tried everything. Yes, EVERYTHING, even the thing where you give her liver snaps every time she’s doing well. No dice. Halti? Tried it. Gentle Leader? That too. I finally found a collar that works for both of us, meaning no pulling on my arm and no pain for my dog. Deal with it. [Sidenote, any Halti users hate how everyone thinks that your dog is muzzled? People treated my gentle children’s therapy dog like a vicious beast when we used that thing.]

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