The Ultimate Guide to Running with Your Furry Friend

Are you struggling to find time for a run? Do you have a dog that needs exercise? Why not combine the two? Running with your dog not only provides a great workout for both of you but also strengthens your bond. With the number of dog owners skyrocketing in recent years, it’s essential to keep our furry friends healthy and active. Plus, did you know that owning a dog can make you a better runner? It’s a win-win situation!

Unleashing the Benefits of Running with Your Dog

Running doesn’t just benefit humans; it’s also great for dogs. Canicross, the term for running with your dog, has been proven to enhance a dog’s mental well-being. It can help alleviate separation anxiety, reduce stress, combat destructive behavior, and ease boredom. The mental health benefits of running are well-known for humans, but it’s incredible how dogs can reap the same advantages.

The Dangers of Running with a Regular Lead

Running with a dog on a collar and a regular lead can be potentially harmful to both you and your furry companion. Dogs, regardless of size, have incredible strength and can easily outpace you while running. This may cause them to pull on the lead, leading to discomfort and potential choking. Moreover, running with a lead in one hand can disrupt your running form, potentially resulting in wrist or shoulder injuries. It also hampers your running efficiency as it limits your arm drive on one side. Additionally, running with a dog on a regular lead offers less control, making it easier for dogs to pull you off balance.

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The Safe Alternative: A Canicross Harness

Switching to a canicross harness is a much safer alternative for both you and your dog. These specially designed harnesses provide your dog with freedom of movement while reducing the risk of injury. Canicross harnesses come in two main types: short and long. If your dog has a strong pull, a long harness distributes the load evenly across the body, while a short harness encourages the dog to power from their front legs. Proper measurement and fitting of the harness are crucial for your dog’s comfort and safety. DogFit offers excellent starter kits and free fittings by trained canicross instructors nationwide.

Equipping Yourself: The Canicross Belt

Once your dog has the right harness, it’s time to equip yourself with a canicross belt. Regular waist belts are not advised as they offer less support and may lead to back injuries. A human canicross harness, which sits on the pelvis and has leg straps, is the ideal choice. By distributing the load to the pelvis, the harness reduces strain on your lower back, providing better support and preventing injuries. Wearing a harness also allows for better control of your dog, enabling you to run hands-free, maintain balance on uneven terrains, and maximize your arm movement for momentum.

The Essential Connection: The Bungee Lead

To ensure a secure connection between your dog’s harness and your canicross harness, you’ll need a bungee lead. This springy lead absorbs any shocks from your dog, preventing jarring movements and sudden jerks. The length of the bungee lead depends on your dog’s size, height, and strength, so it’s essential to seek advice to choose the right one. Remember, the longer the lead, the more space there is between you and your dog.

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Exploring the Parkrun Adventure

If you’re interested in participating in a parkrun with your dog, keep in mind the recent rule changes for safety reasons. Dogs are no longer allowed to be attached to waist belts or canicross harnesses. Instead, they must be on a handheld, non-extendable lead and run to the side of their owner. To ensure your dog’s comfort and safety, attach the lead to their harness rather than their collar. For more insights into running with your dog, don’t miss Louise Humphrey’s podcast, Canicross Conversations, where she discusses all things related to canicross with running coach Michelle Mortimer.

Now that you have all the knowledge and equipment needed, it’s time to hit the trails with your furry friend. Remember, running with your dog is a fantastic way to stay fit, strengthen your bond, and enjoy the great outdoors together. So grab your canicross gear, put on those running shoes, and embark on a paw-some running adventure with your four-legged companion.

Karen's Kollars

Don’t forget to check out Karen’s Kollars for high-quality dog accessories that will make your running experience even better.