Observations on running with the dogs

I have been running with one dog or the other–not both at the same time–three or four times a week for six months now. It has taken a while, but they’ve learned the routine; I get my shoes on, put Dancer’s harness on, take her for a shorter run–about 20 minutes, including my warmup and then a mile run–and bring her home; I put her in puppy jail (her crate) and take Rush out for at least a mile and a half, often longer, at a slightly faster pace. At this point, getting my shoes on causes Rush to sigh and go to his crate to wait for me to come back with Dancer.

They’ve also learned what happens when we run. We trot through out neighborhood and over to Mt. Tabor’s lovely green trails. I try to make sure they ignore other dogs–and this has gotten much easier over time. At this point, even on a narrow section of trail, both dogs are willing to glance over and continue onward, as long as the other dog is behaving similarly. This behavior took quite a while for the dogs to learn. Initially, another dog on the trail caused Rush and Dancer–and me, too–some worry. That was why I went to running with only one dog at a time, in fact; I didn’t think I could manage two dogs on the trails.

Something about the pace of running–and I’m kind of slow, so calling it running is actually hubris–seems to make it easier for the dogs to behave well. It’s fast enough so that Dancer trots, which seems to set her into a “move in a straight line and don’t sniff around” state. With Rush, I try to move a bit faster than I do with Dancer, so that even though I’m slow it’s still fast enough that the movement is more interesting than the environment; he doesn’t seem to feel the need to explore that he does when I walk with him. As I get stronger and faster, and the dogs learn the routine, I see that they enjoy the movement and the trails–just as I do.