Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street.Martha and the Vandellas 1964
Summer is just around the corner and with the days getting longer, more and more people are out and about with their dogs. Last weekend, Loki and I took part in one of the many dog-friendly events taking place during these beautiful sunny spring days all across the country. We ran in the Oregon Humane Society’s Doggie Dash, a fun-run to raise money for the shelter. It is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, and brings in tens of thousands of dollars. It was a blast and so many people turned out with their dogs to enjoy the day.
If you plan to walk, run, swim, parkour, or take part in any other activity now that it is warming up, here are a few tips from Loki and myself to make your adventures safe and beneficial.
Make sure your dog is in shape for the distance you’re going.
I saw several dogs taking “unauthorized” breaks during this run. During those chilly winter months, you may have been keeping active at the gym or on the treadmill, but what has your dog been doing? If he’s been lounging on the couch since we set clocks back, he might not be ready to jump up at a moment’s notice and run a 5k. Be sure to ease your dog into activities, just like you would yourself. Older dogs may be especially susceptible to the effects of too much downtime, but even younger dogs can have issues. An energetic 3-year-old dog may bounce around the house all day, but not have the stamina to go out and run three miles without a break. If you have doubts or questions about your dog’s condition, see your vet.
This is as important for your dog as it is for you. A nice breeze and warm sunshine can trick you into feeling like you don’t need a water break. Don’t get fooled. Take frequent breaks and offer your dog lots of water. There is some great gear available to make it easy to bring water along on your hikes or runs. Check out the Trailrunner by Ruffwear or the Excursion by Kurgo.
Be aware of yourself and your dog.
Getting outside and seeing other dogs and dog lovers is great, but not all of our canine companions like that kind of socialization. That absolutely doesn’t mean anything negative about those dogs, but be considerate of those pooches. Be on the lookout for people with warnings on their leashes or harness, so you can offer them a little safe space. One easy-to-spot warning is a yellow ribbon on a dog’s leash, which has become a universal symbol that the dog may need a little extra space. (There are some arguments against this. Check out Victoria Stilwell’s page for more. )
If your dog is one of those that needs a little more breathing room, take the appropriate steps to ensure her safety and comfort. Don’t force your dog into a situation or environment where she might hurt someone or get herself into trouble. You may need to go early in the morning or later at night to avoid crowds, but if it helps your dog to cope, make that sacrifice. Even if your dog is wonderful with others and wants nothing more than to say hello, please be understanding if someone asks you not to let your dog run up on theirs. They may not be challenging your ability to handle your dog, but warning you about theirs.
A few last thoughts on self-awareness.
If you’re walking and your dog is at the end of a 16-foot retractable lead, you are not in control of your dog. While in areas with other people or pets, shorter leashes are better.
If your eyes are on your phone screen, you are not watching your dog. On leash or off, keep your attention on your dog to prevent problems, to be aware of dangers, and for crying out loud, so you can clean up after your dog.
Get out and enjoy the springtime, have fun, and be safe. I will leave you with a few more pictures from the Doggie Dash.
Enjoy and remember, do something with your dog!