Dear Dumb Runner,
My dog gets bored on runs. She does great when we take new routes, or routes that she hasn’t been on for a long time—she stays even with me or runs slightly ahead, and looks around at the scenery. However, if we go on the same route again, too soon, she quickly starts to lag behind. Then after we turn around, she pulls me home. I’m careful about not pushing her mileage or going out when it is too warm for her. We can go hiking the same day and she will have plenty of energy.
She loves to walk the same routes because she can sniff things. I suspect that the lack of sniff time during our runs is what makes her bored, but we can’t stop five times per block to sniff and, you know, run.
I could solve the problem by taking a new route every time we run, but that really isn’t practical. How else can I keep her interested? Is anyone making little doggie iPods yet?—Lynn, Austin, Texas
Doggie iPods? That is genius. I can't believe Apple hasn't thought of that yet.
Anyway, this does sound like a conundrum. If you are determined to run with your dog—an admirable goal, by the way—I can really just think of a few more things you could try.
- Give your dog a good, long walk immediately before your run. Maybe she'll be more willing to run on a familiar route (i.e. without sniffing) if she's just had a chance to satisfy her olfactory needs.
- Find a local running buddy who also has a dog, and try a "double doggie date"-type run. Perhaps the canine companionship will be enough to keep your girl happy and occupied.
- Chat with some dog trainers near you. They may have experience with this sort of problem and might be able to offer help, including obedience classes.
If these sound like long shots, it's because they are. But I'm not sure what else to tell you. Sometimes, simply put, that dog just won't hunt. Er, I mean "run." That dog won't run.
For what it's worth, it does sound to me like you're doing everything right here—not pushing the mileage, keeping your dog home in very warm weather, and so on. Also for what it's worth, I empathize. Our dog is very much a sniffer, and I have never been able to get him to run with me for more than a block or two.