Running With Your Dog - The Sequel

2 Januray 2010

A dozen years ago I wrote about running with man’s best friend and a runner's worst fear, a dog. The original article appears below. Since that time, both the running world and the dog world have experienced changes that are worth mention.

First, the benefits to humans of canine running partners used to outweigh the disadvantages. Dogs provided a sense of protection for their human partners. While the proliferation of electronic fences prevents many suburban dogs from straying, the use of invisible fences has decreased the amount of time owners spend socializing their dogs with humans and other dogs. Doggy day care centers provide structured social experiences and some pampered pets see other dogs only from a DVD. We are experiencing a decline in appropriate dog social behavior among dogs and with humans, and among dog owners with each other. Unless you have access to private trails, keep your dog on a leash so you can prevent any misunderstandings.

Even with these misgivings, a canine running partner continues to offer benefits unmatched by humans or high-resolution videoscapes. A dog wants to run and will push a moderate runner to run faster – even if it is to avoid hearing the same story about missed PRs or food fetishes. A dog does not stress about politics or fashion. A dog enjoys running the same route every day and may even resist a change, although a dog will not mind exploring new routes if the reward is to meet someone with appropriate dog treats.

I offer the following updated guidelines based on a review of the September 1998 list:

Even in 2010, it is possible to be one of the lucky runners who enjoy long partnerships with a canine running partner.

Dr. Marla A. Jabbour shadow writes for her husband on topics outside his expertise. She enjoys taking their German Shepherd puppy Lady Godiva on daily hour-long walks. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever the endorphines call.

Running with your Dog

Not For All Breeds

Published September 21, 1998, in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

A man's best friend and a runner's worst fear, a dog can also be a runner's best training partner. In the ever-changing landscape of running, many runners are trading in their human partners for the canine variety.

A canine running partner offers many benefits. A dog adds a sense of security. A dog is always ready and willing to run. A dog patiently listens and does not interrupt. A dog never criticizes your running form and never mocks your attire. A dog does not complain about work or home. A dog does not mind running the same boring route every day. A dog does not complain if you spontaneously change your daily route to check out the latest running fashion on the roads.

On the dog side, a dog that exercises is a happy dog. A dog accustomed to a running routine may shame a reluctant partner into a pair of running shoes and out of the door.

On the down side, a dog has favorite trees and water hydrants. A dog may prefer to chase a squirrel rather than your new neighbor. A dog attracts other dogs. An erratic dog may alter your running form. Finally, a large dog darting into the road may drag a smaller runner off balance.

If your puppy likes to run around, it does not mean that it is ready for the rigors of long distance running. My resident veterinary expert provides the following guidelines:

By following simple common sense, many runners enjoy long partnerships with canine training partners.

Kamal Jabbour enjoyed many runs with his German Shepherd Scout, before her retirement from running. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. He maintains The Syracuse Running Page and receives email at jabbour@syr.edu.


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