I am trying to decide if I should take my dog running, based on my personal safety.
I run in a very rural area (lots of farmland, little traffic, no foot traffic).
On one hand, my dog will be a LOT more likely to attract the attention of some of the stray/wild dogs around here, thus increasing the potential of a dog attack.
On the other hand, she also might be a deterrent to human attackers (although she's a really super friendly dog, a stranger might not realize that).
Any thoughts either way?
Honestly, I don't have an answer for you.
It is sad that anyone needs to post this type of question. With some of the crazy stuff you see in the news, people are unfortunately concerned for their safety. I posted something similiar regarding my daughter's safety and I got the usual suggestions...
1. Run in a well traveled location,
2. Run during daylight hours,
3. Carry Pepper Spray,
4. Be aware of your surroundings,
5. Run in groups, etc.
Unfortunately none of this is very comforting and there isn't one thing that you can do to protect yourself 100% of the time.
So, I would:
1. Trust your neighbors,
2. Be ware of your environment, and
3. Carry Pepper Spray - (Just make sure it is easily reachable)
alas.. I would bring your dog if you would like the company and can deal with the occasional stray..
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I think running with your dog is great fun and terrific exercise for the dog. I also think that a dog is a deterrent to potential (human) attackers. That is, the right dog; my 2 little Cavaliers are zero deterrent as they welcome strangers with elaborate displays of hospitality and cannot wait to greet each person we meet on our slow runs. Being bugged by feral dogs is out of my experience range. I run in town.
I'd just second the suggestion that pepper spray is a good idea. And also: telling someone that you are going out running and where you'll be. If you have a neighbor who could be the point person, that is great.
And if you do bring your dog on runs, remember that a dog can't cool off as efficiently as a human, so give her a walk break and bring water.
Here's what you need to know:
1. How well do you know your dog? Do you have a small or medium-large dog? Are other dogs in the area much bigger?
If your dog is calm and generally not a highly reactive dog...then, having him as a running partner is a possibility. Go to #2.
2. How well do you know your environment? If there's a history of wild dogs (mongrels as I like to call them) either not enclosed and running wild and free and causing disturbances, you'll probably want to choose another route. How responsible are people in the area? Are they aware of runners in the back country roads, etc? Are you aware of their behavior as drivers, homeowners, etc..?
3. Always run with your dog on the left side. You should always run between the dog and the road, so the dog is ALWAYS on the grass. It's a way of protecting the dog, so he can best protect you as well. This is a cardinal rule for running with a dog.
4. Keep it light outside when you run. Wear reflectors when it's not as bright outside.
5. Pepper spray is a smart precaution.
Hope this helps. We have 3 medium-sized dogs. We invested a lot in training - doing it ourselves (not any company or other trainer). We run with them in the fall/winter time both in the city and country, but always with a plan, always prepared and employing the 5 rules mentioned.
I think it all depends on the type of dog you have. I have a black lab that is great to run with and keeps me motivated. As for safety, I agree more with some of these posts that pepper spray would be the best thing to carry along with you on your runs. I would bring your dog more for campanionship and its also great exercise for them too.
It is sad that we have to worry about being attacked while being outdoors!
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I definitely think running with a dog improves safety! But please don't let your dog run loose in farmland. If your dog is found running loose with livestock the farmer has the right to shoot your dog in most states (especially western states). In addition, it's just not polite. Your dog may prefer to run loose, but as a responsible pet owner you must make sure you're following local laws and not negatively impacting others with your joyful pet.
And I'd like to second the wise advice from others to remember that dogs don't naturally run at a steady pace for long distances, they prefer to start and stop a lot, so give them breaks and provide water.
All said running with your dog is a lot of fun.
I run with my lab mix 2-3x /week
Even in "usual" conditions (suburban / rural / park like settings) here are some dog running guidelines:
1. always on a leash. this helps the dog learn your pace, and keeps the dog from darting off into danger area (car, wire fence, sudden drop off,etc)
2. Not when they're under a year old. Even though medium/larger dogs look big when they're under a year, their bones and joints are still maturing, and discplined "straight line" running can damage their leg joints.
3. Finally, some dogs just run better than others, so I'd recommend some short runs (.5-1mi) just to gauge your dog's cooperation.
As to safety - sounds like you run in an especially rural area (the wild dog factor sounds a bit freaky). Personally, i don't think I'd subject my dog to that risk. As to human threat, I suspect pepper spray is good to have, but having a cell phone, powered up, with an emergency number (or speed dial) ready to go is good idea too.
I absolutely do. I had a similar situation running on the mountain rural roads where I encounter 'free' dogs. They are not wild but they are not leashed and they do run after me. That was a deterrent at first as I was afraid of dog fights but as I found myself getting a bit nervous about random people in the area I felt much safer with my dog. I stepped him into it, starting with small runs always on a leash. I tried like one of the comments below on the left side in line with 'heal' however, on the mountain roads with the curves we sometimes would have no where to jump if an oncoming car came around the curve too fast. So, we run with traffic, I left him choose between healing on the left on the road with me or on the right in the grass. When I pick up my pace he prefers the left. It did take a few runs for him to get use to my pace (whether fast or slow, more of the constant run factor) and running on the leash but (as a choc lab) he loves the exercise and we have bonded quite a bit with the running process. If we do ever run into dogs, I step in front of my dog as the Alpha and can usually back the other dogs away with commands or we just continue to run and I tell him to 'leave it'. So, with some commands I actually have fewer issues with other dogs, I feel safer in general, we both get exercise, and we bonded. If I do venture on a longer run, I bring water and save one of the water bottles for him and one for me. I also make sure he hasn't eaten for at least an hour before or after the run. I am not comfortable running with pepper spray personally, so that has stopped my predawn or night time runs. I haven't ventured out in the dark with the dog and probably won't.
If you start taking your dog with you... dogs need to build their endurance just like humans to prevent injuries A little bit at a time with 10% increase a week. I read it somewhere recently, but forgot the source. Also with my own dog, I took her and did too much too soon and she started limping.. One dog is good for running and the other is a jack russell and he likes running, but tires fast and also has a bad habit of jumping in front of my feet randomly! So ... there ya go!
I love dogs and running with yours would probably be great fun for the both of you, but if it were my wife running in rural farming areas I would want her to have a running buddy, or to carry serious protection.
I am a very responsible person, not a militant, and I would definitely protect myself if I were running in the situation you have described. There are plenty of avenues available for great firearm instruction and many very small holsters and firearms available now. But, unless he's trained as a guard dog, I would never look at a dog as a deterant to crime.
Or you could drive into town and run in a well lit, much safer park, or recreational area.
With the right dog...absolutely. There is some great advice in this post about making sure your dog is trained and conditioned for a run. I run with my 4 year old Doberman Pincher. He is advanced obedience trained and a wonderful running partner. Not only are people reluctant to approach a strange dog (as they should be), but my dog is very attentive. He notices people coming before I do and I can tell from his demeanor if there is a person near by. That way I can cross the street or just be aware of another person near by. He is also a motivation to me. Dobies need a lot of excercise and mine loves to run. When I don't feel like going out, I still lace up my shoes because I don't want to dissapoint my dog.
There is some wonderful advice in this post. Some things I would add are:
1. When running with a dog, remember to carry waste bags for poop. Also plan on periodic potty breaks for the dog.
2. Be very careful about weather extremes. Pavement gets very hot on their pads. The only downside to my dobie is he is heat intolerant. He will run with me in 85+ degree weather, but it will also make him very sick/dehydrated. In the rain/cold he has a coat for insulation and protection (Columbia Sportswear makes a great one!). I leave him behind if it's over 80 degress outside.
3. Remember, that dogs may make other pedestrians uncomfortable. When you pass someone, let them know you're coming so you don't suprise them and the dog doesn't react to that suprise by becoming defensive. I once surprised someone who let out a startled scream. The scream made my dog nervous and agitated and put him on the defensive.
3. Even with a dog, don't ever run with an iPod or music if you're worried about personal safety. Last week I saw a woman walking about half a block in front of me. I called "on your left" to let her know I was behind her and would be passing. She didn't respond. My daughter did the same thing when we were about 10 feet away, again she didn't respond. When we passed her, we saw that she had an iPod and was completely unable to hear our warnings. She didn't notice us (even with yelling and calling out to her) until she saw us passing.
I live in a pretty rural part of Southern California. Our neighborhood backs up against the Cleveland National Forest and there are often coyotes roaming around, and of course when I run up the mountain I always risk an encounter with other animals like mountain lions. We run with my brother-in-laws dog whenever we do these runs, and I have to say that I feel a great deal safer.
With the right dog this would be a great idea (not a puppy, not a short miniature thing, etc). I think dogs get a kick out of it. . . the only suggestion I would have is to ensure that hte ground is good, no glass, etc that might harm the dog's pads and to consider getting little shoes/booties for the dog. I had no idea these existed until watching something on the Iditerod.
ETA: i don't have a dog, but I have a flashlight I run with. I actually got it at HOmeDepot but have seen them other places too. It's heavy plastic, a whistle on one end, angled edge, so I think it could cause bodily harm, and then the flashlight has several options, flash-light, strobe light or solid light.
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