The idea of running with my dog is very appealing to me. I have had dogs in the past, but never really succeeded in getting them interested or fit enough to run alongside me. One would get about halfway around the block before he would put on the brakes and demand to be carried back. Another was a zigzagger and eventually lost interest in even starting the run. Always fun. So what am I noticing with the Cocker Spaniel after getting some actual runs in?
First, and this is no surprise, the dog will drop deuce on the run. My last athletic dog would need to stop so often I would just give up and make it a walk. A friend of mine thinks picking up dog crap is hilarious. That if aliens are watching us, this simple behavior makes us look ripe for conquering. I don’t disagree. It sucks. So here are my rules for cleaning up after the dog.
- If we are in the WOODS or on a wooded trail, I am just moving it off the trail.
- If it is not easily picked up, it is staying put. Maybe pour some water on it or put a leaf over it?
- If there is a long way to run, and I am doubling back, I will leave the bag for the return trip.
- If there is a garbage can along the way it is jettisoned at first chance.
Let’s face it, running with a pile of swinging poop is the worst. So I will do whatever I can to not. Preferably he goes before the run, just like me, but ‘it’ happens I guess.
Next up are leashes. I use a running leash that I have mentioned before and it is great. Handsfree movement, all the good stuff. It seems however, I am sometimes the only one using a leash. In fact on just my last two runs I have come across other dogs off-leash. This is not a good look for dogs or their owners and here is why. If my dog is on a leash, and your dog is not, I can not keep them apart. This upsets my dog which in turn upsets me. I can promise nothing will happen to my dog, so if a problem occurs, that only leaves the other party and that isn’t fair. I follow the rules and if they say dogs must be on a leash, they must be on a leash. Even if you think you are alone. Just be safe and respectful.
Recovery seems to be an often overlooked topic for running with dogs too. These tough little mutts will go and go, so they need us to tell them to stop. Just as important though is to give them rest days just like you would yourself. They can’t tell you when they are hurt or sore, so play it safe, and really pay attention to their gate or actions before and after a run. If you are tired, they probably are too. So help them cool down, give them good food, and plenty of water. Don’t ramp up from 0 to 5+ miles a day or just like a person, you risk injury.
It is tough work to keep them clean and insect free. My Cocker has ears that act like tick elevators. I have pulled so many ticks off of him in such a short period that it is a mandatory check after each hike and run. Sure the medicines kill them off, but I prefer not to bring them in the house. As for the car, I usually bring several towels along and have a dog carrier that goes over the seat to keep it clean. I don’t try to get the little guy spotless until we are home and get a bath. Depending on the ground we covered and how messy it is, I won’t do a bath every time, but there are days when the mud is unavoidable and it has to be done.
There you have it. Just a few observations and things we are seeing so far. Probably nothing responsible and experienced dog owners don’t already know, but worth repeating for the newbs like myself.