Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dog running accessories

At the latest dog race that I did with miss stella, I got lots of questions about what I gear I use when we run together.  I thought it might be appropriate to do a dog blog of sorts on accessories.  I know there are lots of choices out there but here are my favorites:
Hands Free running leash and waist belt:  Before I knew better, I would tie a longish leash around my waist and go.  I don't like having things in my hands while I run and i really hated having a leash in my hands.  If I can't swing my arms correctly when I run, I feel like I can't run.  I would often come home with massive bruises on my waist and back from stella pulling, as there is always a learning curve when dogs are learning to run with you.  There are tons of options out there for running hands free, but the leash and waist belt combo from Stunt Puppy are my favorite.  Plus, bonus, they are MADE IN THE USA!  Here is a link to their website if you want to read up on their story.  I am very lucky that our local running store carried their products and were very knowledgeable about them.  What I love about their hand's free leash is that the material slides so the waist belt slides and the swivels on the attachments swivel, so stella can comfortably switch from side to side without me having to re arrange everything.  I also like that the leash portion attaches to her harness but also has a hook attachment that I can take off from my waist if I want to hold on to her better.  When we are out on the back roads and I know we are safe, I will unhook her from her harness and just wrap the leash around my waist and hook it to the D ring on the waist belt.  Nothing left to dangle or get tangled or to hang on to and since it is light weight, I don't even notice it on my waist.  I have also on occasion y y yoked both dogs via their harness to the waist belt and have had no issues with both dogs on the same belt.  The leash portion is nice too because it is a stretch bungee like material that is short but can be longer if pulled on.  There is also a handle on the leash portion if you need to reel your dog in closer that i really like.  Sometimes stella is a road or sidewalk hog so I have to gently remind her to stay close.  I noticed that now they even have a reflective waist and leash belt combo that looks really cool and very reflective, something miss stella and I need while we run since we got out a lot at night.  I have even gotten to where this is my everyday leash for her as it is so easy and comfortable to use.
Harness:  Since all of my dogs start out pulling when we start running, I prefer to start them out in a harness, specifically a Y harness.  My last two running dogs, stella and deuce have stayed in harnesses even after they learned not to pull.  The harness I prefer is the Hurrta padded Y harness.  I have let them run in comfort flex harnesses before hut I really like the way the Y harness gives them freedom of extension in their shoulders.  Plus the padded Y harnesses have reflectiveness on them already.  The only problem is that my dogs have a ton of hair so you may or may not be able to see the harness or the reflectiveness.  I have not noticed any rubbing or hair loss with the padded versions.  I like the bright colors though and miss stella does look pretty in pink.  They are very easy to get on and off with one very sturdy snap on the side/back and one D ring on the back where I attach the running leash.  Note to those who use harnesses, this harness does not have any other rings on it, just in the back so you cannot attach your leash to the front to use as a no pull type of harness.  This harness has been through mud, snow, sleet, hail and rain and still is very bright and pretty.  I was lucky and found a local dealer that I bought my harness from but if you don't have anyone local, you can order from amazon for very reasonable prices.   
Cooling coats:  I started using Cool Coats  carried by clean run many many years ago when outdoor agility trials were popular.  
This one has been handed down from miller, to deuce to stella and is still in perfect condition.  I love the fit and I love the belly band plus the purple trim is perfect for at KSU fan like me.  You simply dip the coat in cold water (i have a specific thermos cooler for cool coat water LOL), wring it out and then put the coat on the dog.  I love the fact that when you put your hand under the coat after they have had it on, that they feel cool and comfortable.  This coat has been all over the country with miller and I, and now it travels to all of the runs stella and I do, and the agility camps that deuce and I do.  There a more options out there than ever for cooling coats, but this one is so simple and affordable and carried on the clean run site.  Just make sure you measure according to their instructions to get proper fit.  I am sure you can get them on Amazon and they are made by Saratoga Horseworks and are carried on the Clean run website.  I have not tried running her with this on so I use it post run and am currently on the hunt for something we can use mid run.  Will get back to you on what I find.

Other gear:  I am still on the hunt for some good boots for snow running. Last year was our first full year to train in the winter, as we usually hibernate and go into strength training mode.  I had too many spring halfs to do that, so we braved the winter weather and ran in all sorts of winter conditions.  I did notice that after 4 or so miles in snow, the snow would start to ball up on stella's feet and cause her some discomfort.  This winter, we are going to try some different options and report back on what we liked.  I never felt like she needed a coat for warmth as she has a nice moderate under coat already in place.  

So those are my favorite products for running with your dogs!  Feel free to leave a comment on what your favorites are and why. 


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