Who is Running Who? A Ridiculously Simple Way to Improve Running with Your Dog
Posted Dec 26 2013 5:41pm
You may not know this about me, but I have a teenager. A teenager that is becoming increasingly unruly by the day. He doesn't listen. He thinks he knows everything. He does as he pleases. He doesn't respect my authority. He whines when he doesn't get his way. Does this sound like your teenager? He also poops in the back yard. My teenager is Ollie, my English Pointer.
Ollie is getting big...and strong. We adopted him about a year ago when he was 1 1/2 years old. A year later and at about 80 lbs, it is clear that he is growing into a rambunctious teenager. I don't have any (human) children of my own, but I now have this rebellious teenaged dog. I know I have written blogs in the past about tips for running with your dog and why dogs make better running partners than people , but lately Ollie has been down-right impossible.
What has changed? As he is growing, he is getting much stronger. He has a strong body and an even stronger will. We've had two incidents last month within a couple of weeks. I told you about what happened at the turkey trot , right? He set his sights on a Great Dane and Ollie won, not against the Great Dane, but against me. Ollie 1: Lea 0 . He pulled and pulled and when I grabbed him by the collar to try to get him under the control, he kept going and dragged me right off my feet and through the mud. My weight hardly even slowed him down. My dog is too strong for me.
Then later that same week, we were on our regular running route in the neighborhood and he became fixated on a barking dog from behind a fence. He wouldn't stop. He pulled. I tried to grab him by his collar again to get him under control and my hand slipped all the way up the leash...I ended up with a nasty case of leash burn. It was burning and bleeding where the skin bubbles burst. I was almost in tears. How can I control my dog on our runs?
This was the "leash burn" after about two weeks.
I was so mad at Ollie, but he really had no idea. Besides, how could you stay mad at this guy?
Why can't I go running too mama?
He's a sweet dog that doesn't mean any real harm, he just gets...well, excited! Then every time I would put on my shoes to run, he would think he was coming with me, but I couldn't do it anymore. If I couldn't control him, I couldn't take him. It made me sad. It made him sad too! He would whine at the front door until I came home, probably not understanding why he couldn't run too. How could I have a blog called Running with Ollie if I couldn't run with Ollie? I needed to find a solution to my problem.
I started searching online and I found the Sporn per halter on Amazon that was pretty inexpensive, so I thought it would be worth a try. The Sporn pet halter is a harness that goes around his body and front legs. It claimed to be a humane way to stop the pulling without choking or hurting your dog. I really liked the idea that it didn't go around his nose like some of the ones that I had seen before. We bought a size large for 80 lb Ollie.
When it arrived, we removed his regular collar and hubby helped me slip it on him around his front legs before we were off for our regular run. At first, I think he felt something different and was acting a little strange. He would run a little, then stop, then run, then stop. I think he might have been getting used to the way it felt. It took about a half a mile the first time out before he started to run normally.
The great thing? When I would need to bring him back under control, one little tug at the leash and he would stop in his tracks. If he ran too far ahead and the leash pulled out to the end, he would stop himself. If he started to get aggressive and bark at another dog, one small tug at the leash and he would stop pulling. Even when he saw a cat and he really was determined to chase after him, it just took a slight tug and he would stop. He was particularly excited about the cat so he would keep trying, but every time, one little tug at the leash would stop him. This was quite a change from our turkey trot misadventure where the entire weight of my body couldn't stop him.
The only funny thing he did is that when he had his sights set on that cat, he would crouch really low to the ground, I've never seen him do that before. I'm not sure if he thought he could get out from under the harness, but of course, it didn't work.
I paid extra attention to his demeanor, as I wanted to be 100% sure that I wasn't hurting him at all. His tail was wagging, he never whined or displayed any signs of discomfort. The straps around his legs are wrapped in soft Sherpa to minimize rubbing and for the dog's comfort.
Ollie didn't seem to mind it at all. I love it because it allows me to stay in control. We can just run together again without worrying about Ollie getting out of hand. It works great for walks or runs. It brought my unruly teenager back under my authority.