11 November 2014

Free Running

Free Running
Above is a picture of Belle as she runs. Free. No harness, no leash.  Our dogs are obedience trained, and have excellent recall.  If they weren't, we couldn't safely let them off the leash!

What is free running?

Free Running refers to the practice of letting your pulling dog run free, off leash, no harness.  It's an important concept for dogs who pull.  In some ways, it's a bit of a vacation from the work of pulling.  Our dogs love to pull, but no matter how much you love your job, a break is always a healthy thing!    
Leader of the Pack!

The Pack

Free running allows for different pack dynamics than a regular, regulated sled pull or harness activity.  When our dogs are working, they are working.  Focused, eyes forward, dig their shoulders in and go!   They take their jobs seriously and work hard.  During a free run, the dogs are encouraged to play as they run together. Something that is never allowed when in harness!   This fast paced play time keeps their bond strong, but also serves to keep their mind sharp.  We see different pack dynamics at play here than we do when the dogs are on a gangline or at home.

Free Running as a Training Tool

Free running will also help with your training goals.  You can free run your dogs while you go for a jog, or a bike ride and build up your own endurance! 
When you let the dogs free run, they will be building up their muscles and strengthen their cardio as well.   They will push themselves and each other, to run harder and faster.   
Another benefit is that dogs that are allowed to free run, will be building and strengthening muscles in a way they would not otherwise be when pulling in harness.   Watch two dogs at play, as they twist, jump and wrestle.  How often can a dog exercise those muscles while in harness or on a leash? 

When your dog is free running, this is your opportunity to observe and watch.  Look at your dog's usual gait.  Watch how they move and run, and handle corners and fast turns.  
It is your job to know your dog, and to know when something is wrong.   For a dog with a sore toe, foot or leg,  running is often easier than walking for a dog.  As they are moving at a faster pace, they put less pressure on the affected appendage.   It is up to you to know your dog, and to see the slight difference when something may be wrong.   To the inexperienced eye, it might be assumed that because the dog is running, everything is fine.  
By knowing your dog, and observing his movement in a free run, you can intervene and head off minor sprains and strains before they become much larger problems. 

Now, get out there and Free Run and Play with your dogs!