We were lucky enough to cross paths with Jacob Venter back when we were first designing our hands-free leash. Jacob’s not just a guy who likes to bring Fido along on a run, Jacob runs with dogs professionally. We thought we might be able to learn something for our own running by getting Jacob to write a guest post on what it’s like to be a dog runner.
Here’s what he had to say ….
Running with dogs! It could possibly the best job in the world. Well I think it is the best job for me at least.
Combining my love for animals and running and turning it into a business was the best decision I could have made. Most dogs LOVE running and it is still very rewarding to see wagging tails, hear excited yelps, or feel the leash pull tight at the start of a running session.
Running with dogs does require a different approach than when I run with a group of runners. Dogs require close monitoring. As much fun as being a dog runner is, there is more to it than just hooking a dog up and hitting the road. It is still a job. Our human clients entrust us with a very special member of the family. Great care is required to ensure that the dog I am running is safe and happy. Our runners know the mannerisms of each dog very well. Any behavior that is out of the ordinary might be an
indication of illness or injury. As a dog runner, even though I greatly benefit from running, my main focus should still be my k9 client.
I constantly find myself scanning for possible dangers such as broken glass on the side walk, a car emerging from an alley, aggressive dogs, and cyclists – the list goes on and on. When you have 8 paws and 2 size 11 running shoes competing for a relatively small piece of the sidewalk, it becomes very important to be the pack leader. Each dog quickly learns where I want them to run (next to me, behind me, on the outside, on the inside etc.). Consistency is key. Luckily dogs have a natural tendency to learn the dynamics within a pack, and so they settle in quickly.
I learn a lot about each dog’s personality during our running sessions. Here are some of the personality types I typically encounter:
- The dog with drive: This pup gives me a run for my money. I have to be warmed up and ready to go because there is no waiting around with this dog attached to the leash.
- The loyal companion: This dog will give it his all to keep up. He/she might not be the fastest dog, but running right next to me is all that matters. These guys need close monitoring so that they do not over exert themselves.
- The minimalist: This dog will do just enough so not to fall behind. They typically require some encouragement to speed up. A little bit of tough love is required to help these guys along to a happier and healthier life.
The end of each run is also very rewarding when I still see wagging tails, yelps that have been replaced by long tongues and a former overly excited pup plop down exhausted on his bed.