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5 Things Nobody Tells You About Running With A Dog

Allie Burdick with her Weimaraner StarFire.

Our family adopted a purebred Weimaraner six months ago, and life has not been the same since. In terms runners can understand, it’s like training for and then running your first marathon. Everyone tells you how hard the training is and what a beast 26.2 miles can be–but, until you actually conquer it mile by mile, you have no idea how hard it truly is.

If you’re looking for the perfect four-legged running partner and have read articles about the best running dogs, you might just be ready for the following not-so-great things about running with a furry friend, too.

Related: 6 Important Things To Know Before You Run With Your Dog

Waste Management

I’m not sure why, but I was woefully unprepared to carry around bags of poop while running. It’s truly an art form. Obviously, dogs need to go on the run just as humans sometimes do. But with dogs, we need to pick up their waste and carry it in a bag until we can find an appropriate receptacle in which to dispose of it.

I live in the country with nary a public garbage can in sight. If my dog decides she needs to go early on a run, I’m left “holding the bag” for up to four miles until I can circle back to my house. I’m hoping the smell gets better in the winter.

Judgment Day

From the moment you get a dog, you will be watched. All of your friends and neighbors who own a pet of their own will be looking to see how often you walk or run the pet and make swift judgments based on your decisions.

Some will come right out and tell you how they think you’re doing it wrong (as my neighbor did), while others will be more passive aggressive about it. Either way, know that you will be judged on your dog parenting skills. Despite that, continue doing what you know is right for you and your pet!

Disappointment

After I started running with my dog, she thought (or hoped) that each time I reached for her leash, it meant we were going for a run. Even though I have a specially designed leash for running, she anticipated a run nonetheless.

It’s very encouraging and motivating to have a dog who loves to run, but be ready for the disappointment in their eyes when they realize it’s “just” a walk.

Safety First?

One thing runners love about running is the simplicity of it. Add a dog, and all of a sudden you’re preparing more gear before you leave the house, untangling leashes on the run and you begin to develop a sort of twitch in anticipation of your dog stopping short for various reasons like:

  • Going to the bathroom
  • Sniffing and smelling absolutely everything
  • Investigating any animal that happens to be visible outside or in a house window
  • Rustling leaves
  • No apparent reason

The first run with your dog is similar to your first run ever in that there is a definite learning curve. Be prepared to be a beginner all over again, as running with a dog brings new meaning to the word “fartlek.” Proceed with caution!

It’s Addictive

Also similar to how you fell in love with running over time is the extent to which you’ll fall in love with your new running partner.

Once we get over all the hurdles and are in cruise mode, with her ears and tongue flapping madly as she propels me forward with her perfect gait, her body motivating my own to move, I feel completely and utterly happy for us both and think, Maybe I should get another dog.

For more information about running safely with dogs, check out how to run with them in the heat, which dogs are best for varying distances and races that allow four-legged entrants!

Related:

How To Politely Pass Dogs And Their Owners On Your Run

This Story About A Runner And Her Dog Gives You All The Feels

How To Combat A Dog Attack On The Run

Allie Burdick

Allie Burdick

Allie is a freelance writer, athlete and mom, but not in that order. Her work has appeared in Runner's World, Triathlon Magazine and ESPNW. On her blog, VITA Train for Life, she chronicles her life as a runner/triathlete and hopes her successes and failures help to motivate and inspire others, even the over-40 crowd she somehow found herself in! The rest of her time is spent raising her twin boys with her husband in the Northeast where they live a big life! See it all on Twitter and Instagram.