I recently attended a fun run where someone had entered the race with their dog. The dog was on a loose leash and suddenly ran in front of another entrant, causing him to stumble and almost fall. He was angry and lashed out at the dog with his foot; fortunately he didn’t connect. As a runner, I can understand his frustration but as a dog owner, I’d be devastated if my dog inadvertently hurt someone else and was kicked in return.
Even if an owner is just out strolling with their dog, the risks are the same. Dogs and runners can share the sidewalk, but both parties have to make allowances. Just as a dog owner has to be watchful and responsible for their dog, a jogger must also be aware of what’s happening around them. This may be annoying to them, but while dogs and owners are out in the community together, it is a necessity.
Rules for Runners
The worst thing any runner can do is to run up to and past a dog without giving him any notice. A dog that is startled may snap as you run past, or it may jump in alarm and knock you over or wrap his leash around your legs.
Instead, make your approach known. A quiet “excuse me” when you reach a dog is not enough. Ensure you give the owner enough time to gather control of their dog before you run by. It’s a good idea to yell, “approaching on the left”, or something similar when you’re still a little bit away from the dog.
If you’re running with your own dog, be aware that your canine buddy may be more interested in sniffing the dog instead of jogging past him. Under these circumstances, keep your dog’s attention on you by calling him and perhaps even offering him a treat to stay close.
Also, give the dog and his handler a wide berth. This may mean moving off the sidewalk for a short distance, and if that’s the case, keep an eye out for vehicles. The goal is to keep your distance. The further you are from a dog, the less of a threat you will appear to be, and the less likely you are to startle it.
Rules for Dog Owners
Whether you run with your dog or just enjoy a leisurely stroll, you can do your part to avoid unfortunate encounters with other runners and joggers.
People running quickly often attract the attention of dogs. Always keep your pooch on a leash, so he can’t run up to someone running past. Even if he is just going to say hello, he may cause an accident or scare someone who is nervous about dogs.
Be aware of what’s going on around you. You may notice a jogger approaching before your dog does, and you can move to the side, or bring your dog close to you on a short leash.
Lastly, pick up after your dog if he poops. Running shoes have very irregular soles and it’s not pleasant to clean out poop from the crevices of the shoes!