Do you want to go trail running with your dog, but need some tips on how to get started? Elisa Deutschmann and her Husky Finn have traveled to several countries to do canitrail. They share their adventures with 40.000 followers on Instagram. Now, Elisa is sharing her best trail running tips for dog owners in our podcast, Unleashed.
Keep in mind what fits your dog when you choose your destination. Bringing a Husky to a warm country or a Whippet to a place where it is freezing cold might not be the best idea.
- You must know your dog well, and you learn how to prepare better every time.
Ensure your dog is fit for the challenge. Otherwise, the hike or trail run might be a bad experience for him or her.
- You can not take your dog for a 20-kilometer run if he is not used to running that distance. It would be best if you prepared him step by step, Elisa says.
Also, prepare for the conditions you will face. What temperatures will it probably be? What surface? Are there any obstacles you will need to prepare for, like crossing a wobbly bridge that might scare your dog if he never saw one before?
Preparing your dog's paws is also recommended to prevent cracks or sore paws. You can start using Paw Care in advance to make the pads soft. Omega3, given with your dog's water or food, strengthens the paws from the inside. When on the trail, you should always bring booties to protect against rough terrain, and in case your dog gets sore paws.
- If you're going for a race or long run, remember that it's not only about you. It's also about your dog, and you have to take care of him or her, Elisa says.
That means to take it easy if it is warm, and have a break if your dog gets tired.
Learn more: Can I train my dog in warm weather?
4. Good equipment
To perform at the best and avoid injuries, having the right equipment is essential.
- I'm always using the Freemotion harness 5.0 for Finn because it fits him well. He can breathe easily and run well. I'm also using the Bungee Leash and the CaniX Belt. Everything is super light and comfortable. That is very important if you go for longer runs.
Make sure there are rivers or other water sources available for your dog to drink or cool down along the way.
- When I know I'm going to areas with no water, I bring water in a bottle. Make sure you know how much your dog needs. Temperature and activity level are factors that will affect how much your dog is drinking.
6. Teach your dog to walk behind you
Running downhill can be hard on your body if your dog is a strong puller. Therefore, teaching your dog to run behind you can be very useful!
Not all dogs are easy to teach, but after trying several methods, Elisa found a way with Finn:
- I'm always running with poles uphill and found out that I could use it as an extension of my arm. I point with the pole to show him the way and say: "run behind me.» I put the hand with the pole to my back, and Finn has to keep that distance.
Make sure to keep your dog under control if you meet animals. Having your dog on a leash can be required, so make sure you check the rules of the area you are visiting.
- If you meet a pack of cows, walking around them is advised - especially if they have calves! Cows might feel threatened by your dog and want to defend their babies. If you get in a situation where you need a cow to move, you can use poles or sticks to make noise. Cows are usually afraid of noises, Elisa says.
If a thunderstorm is coming, search for a place where you and your dog are safe.
- You can't run down the mountain in ten minutes, so that is how I do it, Elisa says. If your dog gets scared be with him/her and act calmly.
Do you want to learn more? Listen to the full episode!