“A tired dog is a happy dog.”
Anyone who’s taken their dog out for a good bout of exercise has seen the positive results in the contentment of the dog’s eyes after the session is over. For the rest of the day the dog is relaxed, attentive, and obedient (at least, more obedient than usual).
The difficulty is that most dogs are born to run; most humans, however, would really prefer to walk. It can be tough to get your dog a solid workout that doesn’t work you over first. A session of fetch or frisbee can tire out a dog without leaving you gasping for breath, but that assumes that your dog is interested in retrieving that ball or disc.
Unfortunately for most shelters, humane societies and animal rescue groups, the dogs that they take in are generally too stressed out to focus on a game of fetch and too hyperactive from being cooped up most of the day to be on their best behavior when a potential adopting family happens along. Unless these shelters are staffed with hyperactive humans, what can they do to tire out the pooches?
How about finding some humans who are trained for — and more importantly, enjoy — endurance activities? Some folks who can run long enough to wear off the edge of anxious energy stored up in these dogs. Thankfully somebody has already thought of just that.
In Oregon the Red Lizard Running Club and the Multnomah County Animal Shelter have partnered to combine runners with dogs. Once a month the Red Lizards organize a group run with dogs provided by the shelter. Not only do the dogs get some much needed exercise and energy burn, they also gain valuable human interaction to help them socialize and feel valued. Beyond that the human runners have the benefit of helping dogs in need plus giving the dogs a little exposure in the community, showing that shelter dogs are good dogs and worth spending time with.
I’d love to hear about more running clubs scheduling similar “dog dates” for their group runs. Such an experience would be especially valuable for high school cross country runners as a way to instill in our future dog owners the respect and responsibility that every dog deserves. Besides, tired kids are happy kids, too!
Source: West Linn Tidings
Photo: Amanda Schrauben