Often, there’s an unfortunate stereotype that dog-walking is a limited activity, an illusion where all it entails is a stroll around your neighbourhood of a morning or night, before and after work. With a bit of rethinking, those stereotypes can be squashed, and those wanting to do more with the dogs can do so.
You don’t need a scientist or statistic to tell you that getting outdoors with your dog is not only essential for their health, but yours too. Countless studies show that physical activity with pets brings a multitude of health benefits for us humans… increased cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones, a decreased chance of chronic illnesses to name a few.
Aside from the physical side of things, we are – plain and simple – happier, as a result of walking our dogs. Reduced chance of depression, dementia, anxiety, and general stress levels, are all golden examples of why getting out with your dog is such an essential part of a pet owner’s life.
For those who enjoy the more extreme side of life, or want to really up their fitness ploys, trail running could be a fun, yet challenging addition to your life and pet companionship.
If you think trail running might be for you, it’s best you do some research into appropriate locations, necessary equipment, and the individual needs of your breed before charging into a 40-plus kilometre haul. Not every canine species is wired to take on such vigorous activity, while others have a unique need for more and more.
Considering trail running with your pup? While there’s not loads of info currently out there, a great place to start would be a company aptly named, Tail Runner. Karen Barrett – along with her rescue Kelpies, Cadence and Pace – started a business journey as an elite Ultra Marathon Runner who wanted to mix her fitness-based passions with the love of her dogs and the outdoors. Her company caters to anyone wanting to do the same thing, selling specialised leads and harnesses for running long distance with dog in tow.
Animal Friendly Life spoke with Karen, who said the first step for those wanting to give it a go is to get to your local vet, and make sure your dog is healthy and without any issues that could hold them back or injure them while on the move for extended periods of time or while on rough terrain. She reports the longest her dogs have run in one day is 130 kilometres (that’s not a typo), with no injuries or health issues arising, so it can be done!
When she’s not engaging in some serious exercise, Karen has a lot to say for the mental health benefits of simply getting out in nature with our dogs. ‘I one hundred per cent believe that we are meant to have that connection with nature. We’re not meant to just live in these four white walls. It’s about getting out there and walking or running with your dog,’ she said.
Karen also preaches that if you’re considering the change, it’s vital you consider if your breed of dog is suitable for the rigorous activity, which also provides the chance to provide a life-changing opportunity for those dogs without a home.
‘One of the reasons I actually chose Kelpies (as her choice of rescue dog) is because I used to be with the RSPCA, and over 120 thousand dogs are put to sleep each year in Australia, and over 60 thousand of those are of a working dog breed. ‘When I was with the RSPCA, every time a Kelpie came in, they were known as dollar dogs, as they were just put to sleep without even looking for a home for them.
‘That’s why I always encourage people to adopt working dogs for their training… if they’re into running, they should definitely look into the avenue of rescuing a working dog,’ Karen said.
If you still don’t know where to start with trail running, head over to their socials where you’ll find a group of people with the same intentions, sharing places they’ve been, as well as participating in social runs.
To steal a new personal favourite sign-off from the Tail Runner website, ‘happy Tails and Trails’.
To find out more, or to purchase the essentials to get you started, head to the Tail Runners website here.