Running is one of the best activities to not only get yourself involved in, but to also get your family involved. It requires literally only your own two legs and the will to keep going in most people.
This means that people of all shapes and sizes can go have a great run for themselves.
This even includes the family pets, and many people love to go running with their dogs in tow. However, sometimes we don’t just want to take dogs places on our runs, but we want to take them to running events with us, like races or marathons.
So, are there any dog friendly marathons about? Or are they for humans only?
In this article, we are going to explore this and see whether you could find yourself a dog friendly marathon in your area or not.
Is It Okay To Go Running With Your Dog?
It is a great idea to go running with your dog, after you have trained them to follow your pace and your instructions. Dogs are very active animals and need a lot of walks.
You will notice that on a lot of these walks, dogs are actually doing a fair amount of sprinting before returning to your side.
Many people transfer this energy over to running with their dogs, which is fantastic, as it is more than likely you will run out of energy before your dog does in this scenario.
The main issue with running with your dog is that you are going to have to train them beforehand.
This is because almost all dogs are faster than a human will be, and you will need them to keep at your pace.
The average human’s running speed is 4 to 5 miles per hour, whereas the average dog’s running speed is 19 miles per hour. It might not seem like a big deal, but if a dog isn’t trained to run alongside you, they may run ahead pulling on the lead.
If the dog is big, it will pull you off your feet, and you might be injured.
As such, you need to train your dog to adjust to your running, rather than have you constantly have to pull it back.
This can be done by gradually introducing your dog to running – starting with walking and then jogging for short distances – and to create commands specifically for your dog when running.
Are There Dog-Friendly Marathons?
Yes, there are a lot of dog friendly marathons and they are increasing all the time. In the US, the state with the most dog friendly marathons is definitely California, with 116 dog friendly races held per year.
Considering the attachment we have to our four-legged friends, it seems only natural that we would have dog-friendly marathons or races in this day and age.
However, there are some things to consider before you enter your own dog into a race.
The first is training. We mentioned this in the last section, but it bears repeating. If you haven’t gotten to the point where your dog is trained to run with you, then you should never enter it in a dog friendly race.
There will be lots of other dogs and people there, which will be adding stress and over stimulation to your dog. As such, if it isn’t properly trained, it may start acting out, and you may not be able to control your pooch.
Another thing to consider is your dog’s age and fitness level. If you only take your dog for walks twice a day for 1 hour, then it is safe to assume that an all day marathon would be too much for it.
Likewise, most people would not expect an 80-year-old with health problems to run a full 26-mile marathon, so you shouldn’t expect the same for an old dog with health problems, or conversely, you wouldn’t expect a baby or toddler to run a marathon, so you shouldn’t expect a puppy.
Finally, you should consider the weather and your dog’s ability to cope with it. If the day of the race is over 25 degrees, then it might be best to not have your dog run around in that heat.
Dogs pant to cool down and while it is effective, it is not as effective in hot weather as sweating. Forcing them to run in this heat will only cause them problems.
What Should I Bring If I Am Racing With My Dog?
The first thing you should take is a small backpack, as you will need to carry some stuff. It shouldn’t be too big, as you will need to race still while carrying the backpack, but it needs to be able to hold some things.
You will need to bring a durable lead. This lead should not be an extendable one, as these can break easily, and it needs to be strong enough to pull your dog back.
In addition, you should have your dog in a harness, rather than a collar around its neck. The dog will be running for a long time and will need to be able to breathe easily, which neck collars can sometimes restrict.
A full water bottle and a small bowl are essential as well. An exercising dog will need a lot of water and something to drink it out of, as such you should provide that for them. If you don’t, they could become severely dehydrated.
Finally, bring some poo bags and maybe a few treats for the dog. It will be a long day and your dog will need to go to the toilet, and it will probably need to replenish its energy at some point, so bringing these is essential.
In the US today, there are many dog friendly races that you and your dog can run. However, your dog needs to be well-trained, in both behavior and endurance, and you need to make sure you are prepared with supplies to keep them healthy.