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There’s nothing more embarrassing than when your favorite four-legged friend—who’s running alongside you—sees another dog and starts barking, growling or twisting the leash through your legs.
You can yell, “NO!” “Bad!” or “Leave it!” but the judging glances from other runners leave you embarrassed.
However, you can avoid this disaster. Before you set out to log some miles, teach your dog proper run etiquette at home.
Bryan Bailey, award-winning animal behaviorist, author of Embracing the Wild in Your Dog, suggests the following two obedience-training tips to help you and your bestie run with ease.
Pick A Side
Running with your out-of-control dog can be frustrating, but it can also be a real hazard to you, other runners or pedestrians. Your dog could easily trip or run over anyone they come across during your run. Your pup could also give chase to a squirrel across the road and suddenly pull you into oncoming traffic. In fact, uncontrolled animals running onto roads and highways are among the top-25 reasons for vehicular accidents in the U.S.
To enjoy running—and to be safe—with your dog, you should train them to remain on either your left or right side, as directed by you. If you run facing traffic, your dog should be on your left side, away from the road. Teaching your dog to switch to your right side would allow you to return home on the same trail, with your dog still out of the road. Because your dog inherited the same spatial awareness that wolves possess, teaching your dog to remain in a certain position relative to your body during your runs can be accomplished easily with a bit of patience and good practice. (Running with your dog is supposed to lower your blood pressure, not raise it.)
Sit Until Released
Running in urban America usually means stopping at some point in your run, whether it’s because of the occasional red light, the need to adjust equipment or the desire to be social with friends and other runners. Regardless of the reason for stopping, your dog should be trained to sit and remain sitting until released.
The time when most dogs get away from their owners is when the owner becomes preoccupied with tying their shoes, talking with a friend or watching to see when the light will allow them to safely cross the road. These owners often fail to see obstacles, such as another dog approaching or a squirrel that picks that precise moment to run to the tree next to you. Train your dog to remain in a sit position to avoid such havoc.
Related: How To Combat A Dog Attack On A Run