Why have dogs become our primary animal running partners? Sure, it seems silly to try and take your cat for a run, but it must have also seemed silly when the first person decided to leash up his canine friend and jog around the neighborhood — the dog darting back and forth, tripping up his master in the leash. My best guess is that that person just couldn’t handle the intensely sad look on his dog’s face as he laced up his shoes and prepared to exercise without his dog. Any dog owner knows this sad stare. But we’ve come a long way since that inevitably awkward first dog run.
Running with a dog takes some practice – for both you and your dog. Running in a straight line at a steady pace is not what dogs naturally do. Running with something tugging you in various directions is not a natural feeling for people either. Of course, some hard work and training are necessary, but running with a dog has some wonderful rewards that make it all worth it. Like what?
The perfect listener.
Finding a running partner you love is hard enough, but finding one that loves you back unconditionally, always listens, and never has a complaint of their own is damn near impossible. Dogs trump humans every single time in the listening department, as they will never interrupt and start sharing a similar story of their own to try and relate through empathy.
Odds are, your pooch can run a lot faster than you (it helps to have two extra legs) and won’t have a problem keeping up with you for a few miles — but also doesn’t judge. Your dog won’t even bat an eye if you need to walk on an uphill, and will only get excited if you throw in some fartleks or other speed work throughout the run.
Dogs prove that you don’t need words to be a source of encouragement and motivation. All you need to do is walk by your running shoes on the way to the bathroom, and your dog may start jumping around with excitement for a potential run. He will constantly remind you that he likes to run and would like to go on one with you. Right now. Seeing him gulp water and then sack out in the middle of the living room floor after a good run is at least equivalent to the satisfaction you feel in your own efforts after a run.
You’d have to be in one gnarly bad moon to avoid smiling when your dog starts his happy dance upon realizing it’s time to run. Whether it involves spinning, zipping up and down the hallway, jumping on his back legs, frantic slobbering, or frequent nosing of your running shoes, a dog’s excitement over a run helps keep it fun. No matter the age or shape of the dog, if he’s running, his tongue is hanging out from a smiling mouth and he’s having a ball looking for squirrels and birds. If we could remember to approach running with that same carefree attitude, just enjoying it for the movement it is, there would be more runners in this world.
Running with a dog may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for an irreplaceable running partner, you may want to give your four-legged friend a chance to prove himself.