Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Go running ...with your dog

In both Crete and Cyprus, there are some amazing areas of natural beauty, nature trails, coastal paths etc. where you can hike all day with your dog off leash.  Within the towns, however, it's almost impossible to find somewhere to let your dog run around off leash. There are almost no dog parks in either Crete or Cyprus, and very few areas where you are allowed to give your dog the freedom to get the exercise they really need.

It's important for your dog to exercise fully, for weight control and physical well-being, as well as for their mental health. Walking around the streets on a leash is often not enough, especially for a young or energetic dog. 

Walking around the streets with my dog was not enough exercise for me either, but was enough of an excuse not to go and do something more active. 

So I started running with my girl, Sage. We have become regular jogging companions, and I thought I'd write a quick post about my experiences of running with my dog...

I keep Sage on a long leash if we are running on the streets, although this isn't very convenient for either of us. It is not very natural for her to maintain a steady running rhythm, and she constantly pulls ahead or stops to sniff something.

Whenever possible, I try to find an area with no cars and not too many people, so I can let her run at her own speed. It's a good idea to walk the route first, so you can see how busy the area is, whether there are families with young children who might be afraid of your dog, if there are any roads to cross, how long the route will be, and just generally look out for any possible hazards.
Stretching after a run... with my dog

I always carry a few things with me when I go running with my dog:

  • Bag for poo collection
  • Leash (just in case)
  • A ball or stick to hold in her mouth to limit her scavenging
  • Water and bowl (which I usually leave at the start/finish point)
  • Couple of dog biscuits if it's a long or strenuous route

For myself as much as for her, I like to run in the evenings when it's not too hot. I always watch for signs that she is struggling (excessive panting, constantly sitting down, no sniffing/exploring etc), although I think she is fitter than I am! You know your dog, if you see that they are behaving strangely, stop and rest, or walk for a while.

In hotter conditions, carry more water and head for shadier routes.
Post-run drink
To make sure she is comfortable, I don't feed her for a few hours before running, and try to make sure she has drunk some water before we begin. I also try to wait for her to poo and pee before I start running, as she gets anxious if I don't wait for her (and I don't like to stop).

When running in parks or fields in the evenings, make sure your dog is wearing their collar against fleas/ticks, and that all medication is up to date.

When running in the dark, I carry a torch so that I can check that Sage is ok (and not eating anything she shouldn't be...). You can also find reflective collars and leads if there is a chance you may meet cyclists or traffic (I searched online and found lots of companies selling reflective leads, collars, patches etc, such as:

There are loads of great products designed for active dogs - harnesses, packs so they can carry their own water when hiking, special boots to protect their feet on hard mountain trails... have a look at the Ruffwear UK range:   and check out their Facebook page for inspiration on the limitless outdoor adventures you can have with your dog:

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