Trail Running with Dogs - Why it Rocks!
By: Joey Holmes
I love getting out on the trail. Just the lowered impact that it has on my body compared with pounding along on the pavement, is enough of an appeal for me. Add in some stunning scenery, steep ups, cruisy downs, and some technical terrain to keep my brain as engaged as my twinkle toes, and it really does tick a load of boxes that I look for in a hobby. But recently, I’ve been lucky enough to have the company of a canine companion to gallop along with. I had no idea trail running could get any more fun than it already is, but the endless enthusiasm and energy offered by a four legged friend, really can make a difference to your enjoyment levels on the trail. Here’s why trail running with a dog, rocks:
There are certainly times when I’m running on my own that I suddenly become very aware of my remoteness and distance from help if I were to take a tumble. Having a well trained and faithful hound at your side is an immediate comfort if you do take a fall. But with some training, your dog can also be your lifeline in a more serious situation, by going to fetch help.
Tip - if you’re planning a remote run where phone signal is limited, put a little map of your route and a ‘rescue me’ note in a mini capsule on the collar of your dog.
Personal Dog Trainer
I find it all too easy to slack off on the hills when I’m running on my own. But put a dog in front of me and I’ve found myself setting new PB’s every time. Without even knowing it, a quick and agile dog can be the perfect personal trainer. With their pounding paws always a few steps ahead, you can’t help but push yourself to keep up with them. And their encouragement doesn’t stop there – they never fail to take a quick look back every now and then to check up on you.
Tip - if your doggy PT is susceptible to be distracted by other dogs or racing rabbits, you may want to consider using a running harness and leash. Check out these tips for camping with dogs for some active leash options.
Occasionally, on super steep ascents, it’s not just me who struggles to keep plodding upwards. On these (rare) occasions, I find myself offering as much encouragement to my puppy pal as I can muster – it’s the least I can do to repay him for the miles of unconditional and energetic enthusiasm he offers me the rest of the time. And it’s this shift in focus from my own pain and discomfort that inadvertently helps me with my own attempt to summit with purpose and accomplishment.
Tip - take some doggie treats with you to really reward them when you reach the peak.
As well as my recent running shoe upgrade, trail running with dogs sets a perfect tone for me of motivation, high energy and great fun. But not all dogs are suited to long distance challenges, so before you drag Fido out on a fast 10km in the hills, test his endurance and enjoyment levels on something a little kinder. If he loves it, then the odds are that you will love trail running with your dog too, and so I’d highly recommend making a habit of it!
Joey is the editor of Cool of the Wild, an online resource for outdoor lovers. She has endless enthusiasm for the outdoor world and loves sharing this passion to inspire others to find and follow their own dreams.