You might have dreamt about running alongside your dog on your morning runs. But the first time you leash your dog to go on one of these runs, it didn’t go as planned. Instead, your dog just pulled you everywhere, leaving you unable to run as you wanted to.
Now, how to teach your dog how to run alongside you or, as in canicross, aid you in your running?
Canicross vs running alongside your dog
Before you start preparing yourself and your dog for your first run, you’ll have to decide how you want to run with your dog.
Do you want your dog to run nicely alongside you?
Or do you want your dog to run in front of you like they do in canicross?
The reason you have to decide this beforehand is because you’ll first need to teach your dog what you expect of him. In order to do this, you yourself should decide what you want.
Tools for running
When going for a run with my dogs, I always prefer them to wear a harness. There are two main reasons for this.
If I need them to stop suddenly, for example, when a car passes by unexpectedly, I can pull the leash. The force of my pull will be taken by their chest and not their neck when wearing a harness.
My dogs are allowed to pull me forward during our runs together. By letting them wear a harness, once again, the pulling force will be taken by their chest.
There are also different types of leashes available.
For running, depending on the situation, I either prefer an elastic canicross leash, or a regular leash.
When I’m going for a run in an area that’s free of cars and bicycles, I’ll use an elastic canicross leash. When your dog then pulls forward, the harder he pulls, the more he’ll aid you in your running. If you would do this with a regular leash however, it’s all or nothing for your dog. Up until he reaches the end of the leash, there will be no pulling at all. But the second he reaches the end, he gets to pull 100% of you.
In a more urban area, I would advise to leash your dog with a regular leash. This way you have more control over him. If your dog would decide to run into a street, with an elastic leash, you might have a hard time getting him back. This won’t be the case with a regular leash.
How to teach your dog
Before starting to run with your dog, make sure he has the proper age to do so. Long runs can put a lot of stress on a young puppy’s ligaments and joints. This can be very dangerous. In most cases, waiting till the age of 1 year before slowly starting to run with your dog is a good starting point.
This being said, you can commence your training earlier. Get your puppy accustomed to the harness you’ll be using. Put it on every once in a while so it doesn’t feel strange when you go on your first run. If you want your dog to run alongside you, during your walks, you can already start to pick up the pace every now and then. Jog for a few feet and reward your puppy when he follows next to you. This way he’ll already know what you expect when going on your first run.
Communication during your run
I find it particularly helpful to teach your dogs commands for turning left and right, stopping and starting. By using these commands you can make the run more enjoyable for both you and your dog. Especially when your dog is running in front of you and can’t see what you are doing. It is useful to be able to call out what he needs to do.
Running with your dog can be one of the most fun things to do if you enjoy running. Make sure to take enough time to prepare so it doesn’t turn into a frustrating trip.