Looking to take your runs with your dog to the next level? If so, consider getting a 3.1 mile endorphin high, and enter a dog-friendly 5K. There are many such organized events that provide a great way to rev up heart rates, interact with other dog lovers, and support pet charities. It is also fun “together time” for both you and your dog.
But first some tips for training:
– You wouldn’t run a marathon right off the couch, so don’t expect your dog to do this without any preparation. While training, Stay close. Be within 3 feet of your dog on one side, and train him not to lunge at other dogs. Begin by teaching your dog to walk nicely beside you. Use small treats or praise to reinforce the good behavior, while discouraging pulling by stopping when he does.
Keep your dog on a clip-on leash. Hands-free leaches, or regular 4- to 6-foot leashes work best. Retractable leashes aren’t usually permitted in dog-friendly runs, as they can prove dangerous if and when a jogger runs between you and your dog.
Watch the weather. Avoid overheating by exercising early or late in the day. Brachycephalic breeds are particularly susceptible. Single coated breeds and those with little body fat may need to wear a canine sweater to protect them from extreme cold conditions.
Pick it up. Bring along plastic disposable bags to clean up after – well, you know.
Stay hydrated. Bring enough water for both of you.
Conditioning for a 5K:
Wait until your dog reaches maturity, which might be 18 months for a small breed and around 24 months for a large breed. Assess your dog’s health and fitness, and use common sense. Warm up. Always begin with a five0minute walk to slowly increase your heart rate, and warm up muscles. Go short at first while training, gradually increasing the time and length you go each time out. Watch out for fatigue and injury. If your dog is limping or panting with his tongue hanging out, stop running. Offer water and rest some before you walk home. If he sits down and refuses to run, it’s a sign that you’ve done too much too soon.
Animal shelters, veterinary groups, and community parks sponsor these races in many cities across the U.S. Before signing up, check out each venue’s rules. Here are four annual dog-friendly 5K runs that may interest you. Check out the internet for many more like them near you.
1. Atlanta Dog Jog 5K and 1-mile Run/Walk
IN 1987, a few veterinarians from the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association began running with their dogs to raise money for canine emergency care. More teams joined them each year, forming the Atlanta Dog Jog, with 400 owner-canine teams anticipated for this past May’s run. Many people run with two dogs, and there is a wide range of canine participant sizes, ranging from Chihuahuas to Great Danes. It is held in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, is open to everyone, and includes both competitive runners and casual walkers. Strollers and wagons are permitted. The race is times, and qualifiers will be chosen to enter the Atlanta Journal -Constitution Peachtree Road Race that happens later. Winners of the Dog Jog also receive medals and gift cards from a local running store.
This spring’s race already occurred, but check out the website for more info for future races at
2. Hair of the Dog 5K May 17, 2015, Working Dog Winery, formerly The Silver Decoy Winery, East Windsor, N.J.Windsor, N.J.
This event has all my favorite things: wine, working out, raising money and finding homes for dogs. There were 600 dogs, and 1500 people at the last one, in 2013, and they raised $90,000 for animal rescue groups. The inspiration for this event occurred in 2004 when a few friends took Blitz, their 6-month old Weimaraner, on walks to the Silver Decoy winery in East Windsor, N.J. They were greeted by Chester, the winery’s Labrador mascot, and the dogs and owners became friends, and event planners. It is now a USA Track and Field-sanctioned event. The race concludes with the Chesterfest wine festival, featuring wine tasting, a band, food vendors, and canine activities, including lure coursing. Rescue groups also bring dogs to adopt.
Entry Fee: $25 prior to May 1, $30 after May 1
Terrain: paved roads and grass, start and finish line in the vineyard
Beneficiaries: Local pet rescues, including the German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue of N.J. and Seer Farms Inc., a New Jersey non-profit animal sanctuary that provides extended emergency care for animals during natural disasters, or family health or relocation-related situations.
Awards: Goody bags, including a wineglass and the first wine tasting free for participants 21 and older.
3. Gulliver’s Run November 2, 2014, 10:30 am, Gifford Pinchot State Park, Lewisberry, Pa.
Gulliver was a Vizslas that died in 2012 from canine Lymphoma. His pet parent began the nonprofit 5K memorial trail run for dogs and people, to raise money for canine cancer research. The first was held last November, with 120 runners and 68 dogs, and collected over $5000 for its cause. It is a great day out, with food and a DJ.
INFO: www.runagainstcaninecancer.org/gulliver John and Lisa Heycock; 717-938-3883
Entry fee: $25 by September
4. Chariots of Fur 5K and 1-mile Beach Fun Run
Feb. 7, 2015 Seawalk Pavilion, Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
Ten years ago Susan Shelton, D.V.M., saw a need to provide affordable veterinary care for basic services to pet parents, and founded her full service hospital thereafter. Her 5K is a fundraiser for the hospital St. Francis Animal Hospital, including the local humane society. It also raises awareness for owners who need help caring for their animals. The number of participants grows each year, and in 2013, 173 people entered the race. This year, despite a rainstorm during the race, 450 people ran with 200 dogs and raised $13,000, and the race if timed and official.
Entry fee: $20, $25 week of the race; $30 on race day
Terrain: beach,; awards: handmade,ceramic dog bowls to top three finisher in each age category.
If anyone knows of other races, forward the information to me!