Do you run with a dog?  Dogs have been a part of my family for most of my life.  When I lived in the country, my dogs would run the trails on our property with me.  There was no leash required, they ran, sniffed, chased and rested as they pleased.  It was a great time for all!

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My son has a dog that I take care of sometimes.  I have taken Pimp-Dog (me cringing) or P-Dog as I like to call him, on runs with me for years, mostly on the trails on their property.  When he was young and ornery he adored racing down the trail like a little black bowling ball and blasting through my skinny, white “bowling pin” legs.  I would flip-up in the air, ass over tea kettle, watching the earth and sky spin, before I crashed in a heap on the ground.  I could swear I heard him yell “Strike!!!” as he streaked past me on his way down the path.  I definitely had to put a halt to that behavior!

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Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap giant mud puddles in a single bound, It’s Super “P”!!!

My son and P-dog live in town now and I have the joy of his company whenever I want a running buddy.  He is a very high energy dog but amazingly, he is very well-behaved on a leash.  He definitely wants to please us and doesn’t like being scolded at all!  He loves coming along on my runs with me and gets so excited when he sees me putting on my running shoes!  He jumps and twists to show me how ready he is to go!

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I even got him a little doggie backpack to carry his water when we go for extra long runs.  He doesn’t mind having it on at all, he’s just happy he gets to go along.

He does need to build up his endurance though, because this old lady can kick his butt on a 4 or 5 mile run!  He’s gotten pretty conditioned to the 3 to 3.5 mile runs but anything more he starts lagging behind until eventually I’m nearly running in place next to him while he pants so hard his tongue practically drags on the ground.  He does have an emergency stash of rocket fuel though, if a squirrel or bunny crosses our path!

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Normally running is a time for me to empty my mind of all the clutter.  To work up a good sweat, enjoy nature, forget my troubles… it’s my me-time.  Running with a dog on a leash can be great fun but it has its drawbacks as well.  I spend a lot of time trying not to trip over him, trying to catch my balance when he crashes into me, swapping the leash back and forth between hands as he drifts, side to side in front of me, stopping instantaneously if some intoxicating aroma grabs his attention.  There is usually about three poop-stops and on long runs we stop once or twice to get the water and bowl out for him to have a drink.  There are the occasional leg/leash entanglements and I have to be ever conscious of the terrain or hot pavement possibly hurting the pads of his feet.  Forget about enjoying nature or maintaining any kind of regular pace.

But probably the biggest issue  I’ve had to deal with is P-Dog’s complete hostility towards other dogs.  We have no idea why he doesn’t like other dogs or why he acts so hateful to them other than the fact that he hasn’t been socialized much.  He has lived with cats and seems to be perfectly fine with them.

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If another dog comes along during our run he instantly tenses up and focuses on it.  If the other dog minds its own business and doesn’t come towards him he will usually do the same.  If the other dog comes towards him, whether playfully or aggressively in any way, it’s on!  He lunges and snarls like a crazed beast!  It’s all I can do to manuvre  him off the path and wait until the other dog has passed.  I have many friends that have dogs that act the same way.  Chihuahuas, spaniels, dachshunds, you name it.  Unfortunately P-Dog is part Pitt bull and since the breed has the stigma of being aggressive, he is perceived as some vicious fighting dog.

Frequently, in the parks and on the paths where I take him, we find ourselves in a situation where people decide to let their dogs run free of the leash.  While I can understand the desire to let your dog kick up its heels a bit this presents a terrifying situation for me.  I guess they feel their dog is trained good enough to listen to them if they call him back to them but I would certainly hate to take that chance.  I would feel awful if either dog were to be injured.

I have tried to find the least populated places to take him.  I try to avoid the most popular bike paths and go for more out-of-the-way parks but we never fail to find free-roaming dogs.  We can’t just go for a walk around the neighborhood for fear of people’s dogs running loose in their yards. On one occasion P-Dog and I were just finishing a four mile run along the river, heading to my car which was parked on the street in a neighborhood.  As we were nearing my car two tiny dogs started yapping at us and ran out of their yard, right into the street after us.  I had to pick P-Dog up and hold him (half of my own body weight) above my waist for several minutes while the owner of the two little dogs came out and chased them in a circle around me while the two little dogs paid him no heed.

I want P-Dog to be able to get out of the house and go for walks and runs.  I’m completely out of ideas on where to go or even what to do at this point.  It’s good for him and he loves it so much.  Do I have to keep him locked up indoors just because he doesn’t get along with other dogs?0806161842_hdr

Most of the parks and bike paths I take him to have signs posted stating that all dogs must be on a leash.  It seems like that would make things a lot simpler and safer.  If their dogs are friendly with other dogs and they want to let them roam free of a leash, why don’t they take them to one of the many dog parks in the area?

Does anyone else have this struggle?  P-Dog wants to know, what are your thoughts on this?

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