Six Safety Tips for Running with a Dog that Pulls
Posted by BETHANY MILLION
There are a multitude of benefits to running every day, which is why so many people have taken to the activity. At the same time, bringing your dog along for the jog is another way that you can connect with them, while simultaneously getting your pooch the exercise it needs as well.
However, running with a dog that pulls is something that can be challenging and potentially even dangerous for you both.
For instance, if your dog is prone to pulling, it could pull you off balance and to the ground. If you lose hold of the leash in the process, your dog could run off.
Hopefully, you decide to buy a dog collar ID with your information engraved on it before such an unfortunate scenario occurs.
To help make sure this never happens and that you and your furry friend can enjoy your runs together, today, we will be covering six safety tips for running with a dog that pulls.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Running with a Dog that Pulls: Six Tips for Staying Safe
When it comes to running with a dog that pulls, there are a variety of strategies that will help to mitigate potential problems and dangers. While some are more obvious than others, the first thing that folks should assess is if their dog is at all suited for running, which leads us to our first point.
1. Assess Your Dog
While you might fancy the idea of running with your dog (and your pooch seems excited about it, too), not all dogs are suitable for this kind of activity.
Of course, it is important to take stock of your dog’s health and build before taking them on a run, but it is also essential to consider the breed of your dog.
The fact is that some dog breeds are harder to train than others and unless you are willing to invest a significant amount of time breaking them of their pulling habit, your dog might not make the best running partner.
That said, there are a variety of dog breeds (many of which are quite common) that make great runners. Some of those breeds include:
- Australian Shepherds
- Border Collies
- German Shepherds
- German Shorthaired Pointers
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Pit Bulls
While not all of these dogs are the easiest to train, they all make great running partners if you invest the time into training them properly. However, many of these breeds (such as German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers) train quite easily.
2. Start with Leash Training
Here’s the big secret to running with a dog that pulls: Break its pulling habit through leash training when they are a puppy or on walks when they are a bit older. After all, as the old saying goes, you need to walk before you can run.
Instead of figuring out how to run with a dog that pulls, it is necessary to instill behavioral norms between you and your pooch and teach them loose leash walking before hitting the trails.
No matter if you are taking your dog out on a run or a walk, it is going to be excited and distracted by things to smell, other dogs, that squirrel that just ran by and a panoply of other things. Your job is to teach them to ignore all of these potential preoccupations and stay near your side. Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies you can use to achieve this aim.
First, it is wise to avoid people when leash training your dog, as this will help your pooch to remain focused on its task. Second, you should also seek out wider areas for your walks and runs, as this will give your dog less things to sniff and help him or her stay focused.
A great place to do this is an uncrowded park. Similarly, many other neighborhoods are devoid of sidewalks, thereby forcing folks to simply walk the streets. These are both great options for helping to leash train your pup.
Some other basics that you will want to keep in mind include:
- Start your training at a walking pace
- Keep your dog close by your side
- If you dog begins to pull, stop until there is slack on the leash again
- When your dog remains by your side, use positive reinforcement by periodically stopping to provide your dog with a small treat (more on this later)
- After your dog grasps the basics of walking on a leash, begin to pick up the pace, repeating the basics of stopping and rewarding when necessary
3. Have Your Dog Run Close by Your Side
Part of what makes running with a dog that pulls dangerous is letting the animal get out in front of you and pull you off balance. Therefore, it is important that you teach your dog to remain close at your side while leash training and to make sure that habit carries over into your runs.
However, when you start running, your dog is likely not going to be perfect, even if it has been leash trained well. Since your dog will be more excited and more inclined to pull, you might consider purchasing a shorter leash that will help your dog stay close by your side.
During this period where you start to run with your dog, it is vital that you work on improving the running relationship that the two of you share. This might mean that you will need to periodically stop due to a bit of pulling or not moving at the same pace as you are used to running. However, over several days and weeks, your dog will likely begin to behave throughout the duration of the run, thereby making it a more enjoyable experience for you both.
4. Use the Correct Type of Leash
The type of leash you use while on your runs is an important consideration. While there are a variety of running leashes for dogs, you should never use a retractable leash while running with a dog that pulls or even a well-trained pooch.
There are a couple of reasons why these leashes are less-than-ideal. First, they provide too much slack and will allow your dog to wander a bit, potentially undoing a lot of the leash training you two have done. Second, retractable leashes are typically made of a thinner material that could cut your dog if it somehow gets tangled up in the leash.
Therefore, selecting a sturdy traditional or hands-free leash is a far better and safer option.
5. Hook Up to a Harness Instead of a Collar
Ensuring that you are not running with a dog that pulls comes down to both training and equipment, as seen by the points listed above. While a good leash is critical for making the run easier for you, opting for a harness over a collar will also make the run easier for your pup.
Harnesses are the recommended option for running with a dog that pulls (or one that doesn’t) for several reasons, including:
- If your dog pulls, a harness will remove the pressure from its neck and disperse it around its shoulders
- Since harnesses hook to the center of the dog’s back, the leash isn’t likely to get wrapped around the dog’s neck as it might with a collar
- Dog harnesses make coming to a full stop easier. This is true for running and leash training.
While a harness is undoubtedly the superior option for running with a dog that pulls, this does not mean that your dog doesn’t need the identification that is attached to its collar.
If you choose to get a harness for your furry little friend, you also need to make sure that they wear their collar while out running or that you buy customized dog tags to attach to their harness.
Just like you wouldn’t leave home without your driver’s license, your dog also always needs identification when going out for a run.
6. Bring Some Treats for Positive Reinforcement
One thing that dogs and people have in common is that we both respond well to positive reinforcement in training environments. When it comes to your furry friend, a small treat and a bit of love will do perfectly.
When you are teaching your dog to do anything new, you want the experience to be fun for the both of you, while still building long-lasting habits. Therefore, using treats as positive reinforcement is a great strategy.
The goal here is to reward your dog for proper behavior, thereby increasing the likelihood that it will continue to exhibit these actions (such as not pulling, staying by your side and the like), even when the promise of a reward has faded from his or her mind.
The best time to begin this kind of positive reinforcement is when you start leash training your dog. That said, as the expectations of your dog increase as the two of you begin to run, it is wise to keep giving your pup little treats on a periodic basis to reinforce those good behaviors.
However, remember to only give your dog small treats to avoid filling him or her up while out on a run.
As your dog continues to learn and behave in a manner that you deem acceptable and desirable, you can start to space out the treats and push your pup to run for longer before getting a reward, just as you push yourself to achieve bigger goals.
Other Tips for Running with a Dog
Once running with a dog that pulls is no longer a concern (thanks to proper training and equipment), the two of you can enjoy getting out of the house and going for a run together.
While running with your dog can be a real treat for each of you, there are some things to remember to keep you and your pup safe, including:
- Make sure to warm up your dog before the run and cool him down when you’re done, just as you do for yourself.
- Take weather conditions into consideration. Dogs are not as well-equipped for handling conditions like heat as humans are and should not be brought along during such times.
- Always bring water for yourself and your dog. Take frequent rehydration breaks and offer some to your pup. You might consider purchasing a collapsible dog bowl or a water bottle with a built-in bowl for your runs.
- Remember to let your dog be a dog. This means periodically letting them go to the bathroom, rest and sniff a thing or two.
- Make sure that you do not work your dog too hard. Watch out for signs like excessive panting, drooling and lagging behind you. Also, watch for wear-and-tear on paw pads, sore muscles, joint injuries and other signs that it is time to rest.
Turning Your Pooch into a Running Partner
Running with a dog that pulls is dangerous. Thankfully, it can be easily avoided by taking the time to train your furry friend and get the right equipment.
By putting in the time and attention that your dog requires to become a runner, you can make running a safer and more enjoyable activity for the both of you.
Just remember to take things one step at a time. Start with leash training, provide your dog with positive reinforcement and you two will be out running the parks and trails in no time.