I love animals and I love my rescued pets. There’s just one problem – Lucy, my non-running dog. Lucy is a great dog. She’s funny, loyal, and very sweet. She has lots of energy, loves to run, and would make a great running companion. The problem is that she doesn’t seem to understand the concept of a leash. At all.
Lucy is a bit of a mutt. She’s part something that herds, part something small and fluffy, and part something very long legged. We adopted her about 6 years ago and until her new life with us, she had likely never been on a leash. At first, she reacted to the leash with confusion, then with abject terror upon finding out that this strange thing was connected to her. For months, she trashed around on the leash, pulling in all directions, trying to get away from her rope-like captor. After a while, she seemed to get the hang of leash walking around the yard and was ready to graduate to longer leash walks.
She loves being outside and going on walks, but she really struggled with understanding that she was connected to her human via the leash. She wanted to go the opposite direction I did, or didn’t follow when I turned. And, being a strong and fast dog, these little disagreements usually resulted in sore arms, rope burns on my hands, and a bit less hairy Lucy. We tried harnesses and easy walker collars and all kinds of trainer-suggested rigs to convince her to walk with us. Nothing seemed to help but repetition. We persisted and she finally learned to walk on a leash – at least most of the time.
For some unknown reason, Lucy still can’t figure out how to run on the leash. She can’t figure out that this new activity is like walking, only faster. Every time I try to run with her I end up with a sore arm, rope burns on my hand, and a shortened run. She regresses to her old self, pulling, thrashing, and generally being a nuisance. Her worst habit is crossing in front of me while I’m running – she has tripped me many times and is lucky I haven’t stomped too hard on her feet. She seems to really love the idea of running and I want to enjoy runs with her. I’ll keep trying – you never know -the 7th year might be the year she gets it and becomes my faithful running companion. So, for you folks who run with your dogs – what strategies worked for you?