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Showing posts with label dogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dogs. Show all posts

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Creative Dog Grooming, Mutilation and Humiliation


Judging by some of the outlandish mutilations of dogs on TV and social media, creative grooming appears to be getting out of control. I cannot understand how any dog owner who sincerely has any love or respect for their supposed best friend could allow them to be put through such humiliation, but then I am just a dog lover myself and obviously do not “get it” or understand this phenomenon.

Creative dog grooming has been around since the sixties and its invention is blamed on the age of the hippies who coloured and dressed their pets. It is not new as the UK has held a championship for many years and the USA since 1973 but it is only recently that it has become more outrageous.

Dog Grooming out of control.

Creativedog grooming is described as a way for groomers to deviate from breed profile grooms by using colour dyes, extensions and carving in order to turn a dog into another animal or famous character. It has become a very profitable service for professional groomers, but like many crazes, things get out of hand when social media and TV step in and everyone loses sight of the animals involved.

It was sadly a UK nation of dog lover’s company, Beyond Productions, that came up with the idea, modelled on Strictly Come Dancing and Singing contests with a panel of judges. It is obviously destined to become a global franchise. Australia’s Seven Network has a version and ABC in the USA  has ten groomers competing in a serious of “outrageous themed challenges”.

Pooch perfect a bad influence.

The UK version of “Pooch Perfect” hasn’t quite stooped as low as the American version but give it time. It’s Facebook page states that the program ‘celebrates the nation’s love of dogs’, but it seems a strange way of showing it. They also insist their groomers must let their imagination off the lead when they give four curly coated canines a cute teddy bear trim. Note the pun there.

Even the mainstream media take a light-hearted approach and see no harm it with quotes such as Ever thought your dog wasn’t jazzy enough, and that maybe with a pair of scissors and a tin of spray paint you could have the best looking mutt in town”.



There is no shortage of owners willing to put their dogs forward for this humiliation and have a chance of getting on TV and audiences are lapping it up judging by comments on social media and the show’s website. American owners are willing to do whatever it takes to make their dogs the wackiest in attempting to win $5,000. There is even a veterinarian on the panel of the judges, so the veterinary profession must believe its harmless. Really?

It will not be long,  I am sure, when we will be back in the good old days of the circus and have barking contests, beauty shows, dressing up shows and dogs doing tricks on TV. Am I missing something here? Is it really just good fun? Am I just being an old grouch or is it a sign that we have fundamentally lost sight of our respect for animals?


Thursday, 4 February 2021

Should animal rescues dress up animals

 


Do we really need wigs, hats, and sunglasses to make animals more homeable.

The Flagler Humane Society in Florida received worldwide coverage of their recent “creative” and “ingenious” scheme to find homes for three of their left behind elderly dogs by dressing them up as old people. Such an action raises the question of whether animal welfare organisations should be condoning dressing up animals and possibly sending out the wrong message to animal owners. I think most animal owners have occasionally popped a hat and sunglasses on their pet as a bit of harmless fun but it is not a trait or habit that should be encouraged.


It is a constant problem for rescues, as I well know being a former animal home manager, to find new places for elderly dogs. Most people do not want the heartache of taking on an animal that may just live for a few years. Although it would be a perfect fit to match elderly people with aged dogs this rarely possible. This can cause desperation for many rescues when anything goes in the search for these elusive homes.


Pet industry makes a fortune out of our fads.


Surely though we are hitting a low point when Humane Societies and other rescues are reduced to dressing animals in wigs, hats, scarves and jumpers to get our attention. It doesn’t say much for our pet loving qualities when prospective owners only feel a dog becomes more worthy of a home when it suddenly becomes cute and adorable by wearing a hat and sunglasses.

Costumes for animals are big business for the pet trade, who have no interest in the ethical or welfare aspects of doing so, only the multi-millions they make out of our inane insistence to dress our pets up to make them look cute. Just because these outfits are available doesn’t mean we have to buy them or believe they are suitable or morally right. Very little thought is given to whether they may be uncomfortable, cumbersome, or even frightening.

The issue highlights the divide between animal welfare and animal rights.

The RSPCA and other welfare organisations as usual sit on the fence and guardedly warn against the practice while also giving tips and advice on how to ethically dress them up. Animal rights organisations, such as PETA, are obviously against the practice. Ardent animal rights advocates were probably horrified at an animal welfare organisation showing such little respect for the dignity of animals and their status. It is a classic example of the often great divide between the philosophy of animal welfare and animal rights.


Although needs must and this “ingenious” stunt was successful, with the three dogs finding new homes, there must be a risk that it sends out the wrong message to all those who already paint the nails and dress up their pets, buy bizarre outfits for them and pierce them. Perhaps our perceptions of acceptable behaviour towards animals is becoming rather skewed and if so, it is not a particularly edifying state of affairs.

 


Celebrities parading their ear cropped dogs.


Jordan Banjo joins a long list of "celebrities" with ear cropped dogs.

Ear cropping dogs in the UK has been banned since 2006 when the Animal Welfare Act made it illegal, but it is still an increasingly common sight to see these dogs being openly paraded in U.K streets and on social media. This is because ear cropped dogs are readily available from many countries in Europe and the USA and there is no ban on importing them making a mockery of the law.

Over the years there has been a long line of “celebs” parading their cropped and docked dogs on social media all professing either ignorance or indifference to the fact that it fuels the demand, their only interest being the “coolness” of it. The latest is Diversity star Jordan Banjo who in December 2020 posted pictures of his new dog Sergio with cropped ears which was met thankfully, and apparently to his surprise, by a barrage of condemnation. In his defence he is quoted as saying:

”I can't pretend to have known all of the information on cropped ears, I don't even want to pretend to be misinformed, to be blunt I didn't even think about it in the first instance. I didn't get his ears cut, I didn't even import him. It upsets me to think that Sergio or any dog goes through this purely to look 'cooler'” Jordan Banjo

There are no health benefits to ear cropping.

Once dog’s ears or tail are mutilated there is obviously no going back but making it illegal to own one, prosecuting anyone seen with a puppy with hefty fines and publicity given would soon send the word out and help deter people. Dogs could be handed back to the prosecuted owners if circumstances allowed and certified in the same way that some working dogs are, but if the sentencing was severe with a mandatory amount it would eventually curtail the trade.


Cropping is purely cosmetic and has no health benefits. There is no medical evidence that it prevents ear infections as often claimed by its proponents or any other health benefits. It is an inhumane and unnecessary procedure that serves no purpose other than changing the appearance of a dog. It is done more for the vanity of the owner than the well-being of the dog and because of a perverse belief that it makes the dogs look the way they

 

There are companies that legally import dogs with cropped ears.


The ban, like many animal welfare laws in the UK was not given enough thought and was never fit for purpose because it did not make it illegal to own an ear cropped dog imported from abroad.  Taking a dog to another country to have the procedure done in order to  circumvent the law and allowing the suffering to take place elsewhere is also allowed.

There are companies that legally import dogs with cropped ears into the UK and there is nothing to stop owners taking their dogs to countries in Europe that still allow it or even the USA and bring them back. There is little point in reporting them as the owners can legitimately claim they were done abroad.


Finally the UK government has woken up to the situation and are considering changing or tightening the legislation.


Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Foreign dog imports blameless for domestic adoption shortfall

Sickly and miserable looking puppies in a government dog pound.

It is a fallacy to think that foreign rescue dogs delay adoption of domestic unwanted. 

One of the many arguments put forward against the adoption of dogs from foreign lands is that it delays or takes away the chance of a home grown unwanted dog finding a home quickly. But this argument is a bit of a fallacy as it is more to do with our fickle and selfish approach to choosing a dog that results in at least 40,000 dogs remaining on the shelves at UK rescues centres each year. Unfortunately there are too few people looking to acquire or adopt for the right reasons i.e. providing a new life for a disadvantaged dog regardless of its aesthetic appeal, pedigree or the trend of the moment. Until we change our adoption preferences charities will never be able to easily find homes for every dog in their care. 

One large UK dog charity admits they receive 13,000 applications annually but never have enough numbers of the desired types to meet this demand because most applicants are holding out for a particular breed or type. It is virtually impossible to persuade these potential adopters to ignore their preferred choice in favour of a nondescript stray that doesn’t appeal. Foreign strays have the edge over those left on the shelf because human nature being what it is we cannot resist a sad story and foreign rescues are perceived to be the saddest of all. 

More than enough potential owners.


But if you look at the figures involved in reality there should be more than enough potential owners to keep both sides of the foreign import argument happy. Rescue sector only provides a small percentage of demand The UK dog rescue sector only fulfils a small percentage of the annual demand for dogs and puppies and foreign rescues even less. I am no mathematician but looking at the numbers logically, the UK has an estimated dog population of 9 million and if you accept that the average lifespan of a dog is probably 11 years it means the UK requires a minimum of 820,000 puppies and dogs just to replenish those that die of old age. It has been variously estimated that 130,000 dogs are handed into UK animal charities as unwanted annually and if you accept their published success rates, 90,000 (70%) are probably rehomed. This leaves up to 40,000 left on the shelf. 

Appealing dog staring out from behind wire cage.


Even if 100% of UK unwanted dogs and thousands more foreign rescues were found homes each year they would still only satisfy a fraction of the demand. Therefore there should be room in the market to satisfy everyone in the rescue industry but it requires all dog lovers to play their part by not viewing dogs as accessories and lowering their exacting standards in choosing a dog. 

The situation is similar in other countries such as the USA and Canada where the rescue market only provides a fraction of the demand but there is also opposition to foreign imports. It is commercially bred dog and puppy imports into the UK that are causing the most problems not rescue dogs and this is the area where curtailment could be considered which would increase demand for more dogs from the rescue sector. Better still the ideal answer is to have a more responsible attitude to dog ownership and avoid dogs going into care in the first place.



Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Condor of the Humane

A Tribute to an extraordinary dog who died forty years ago but is not forgotten.

Black Labrador with head out of Bahamas Humane Society car window
Condor was a soulmate, friend and protector and without her I could not have done my job.
 [
Photographs: John Brookland 1976.]


In September 1975 and I found myself sitting in a bungalow beside the Bahamas Humane Society compound in Nassau having just arrived on a flight from the UK to take up the position of chief inspector. As often happens in these situations when you are exhausted and suddenly find yourself alone far from home, what seemed a good idea at the time was now losing its appeal and I was full of misgiving as to whether I was up to the task.

It was at this point that the back door into the kitchen, which I had left ajar, was pushed open and I was just thinking I couldn’t face any visitors when I heard the tapping of nails on the tiled floor and a sleek black female padded nonchalantly into the sitting room. She wore a red collar and had a three-inch excuse for a tail probably nipped off when a pup and had the appearance of a crossbreed black Labrador.

She stood in the doorway staring at me with soulful eyes. I waited to see if an owner appeared, but she was alone, and after a few seconds she walked further into the room flopped onto the cool tiled floor and made herself comfortable. There was no attempt to come over to introduce herself and although I made polite conversation with her, it was obvious I was being thoroughly scrutinized as though a great decision was being made. I watched her and she stared at me and from that moment on she never left my side during the time of my residence and a special relationship was born.

I could forgive her anything when she looked at me with her sad eyes.

Although it was our first date she spent the night.

I had no idea who owned her, what her name was or where she had come from, but on that first evening I was extremely glad of her company and she appeared happy to listen to all my concerns. Although it was only our first date, she stayed the night lying across the doorway to the bedroom as though instinctively on guard. In the weeks and months that followed I found she was a dog with attitude and several bad habits but a real darling when you got to know her. It proved to be a case of role reversal with her adopting me rather than the other way round.

I discovered next day that her name was Condor and that she was technically one of the “yard dogs” but it seemed that she was a lady quick to change allegiances when the fancy took her, and possibly spotted a relationship with better opportunities. I was unable to move or go anywhere without her as my permanent shadow, and on occasions she proved a good protector when I was so pleased to have her by my side. She came out on all my work visits, social visits (she hated missing a party) and even insisted on coming to the drive-in movie although she would sleep through the film on the back seat. She was also very vain and hated being left out of a photograph and always found a way to muscle her way in.

She was at her happiest out on the road.

My most precious times with her were when we patrolled the island together speeding to incidents and singing along to the radio. Like all dogs she adored hanging her head out of the passenger window and she liked it even more when I would occasionally stop at a sheltered deserted beach and allowed her to swim or chase or retrieve a bit of driftwood. She loved the sea, a true water dog, but it played havoc with her ears with constant ear infections and irritations which I had to treat.

We loved our afternoons off at Paradise Island Beach

We both enjoyed our downtime together particularly my weekly afternoons off when we usually went to the western end of Paradise Island beach which in the 1970’s was often deserted (no Atlantis, Club Med or marina at that time) and we swam and snorkelled, finishing the day with a stroll to the lighthouse and back when she would trot in front with the driftwood firmly lodged in her mouth. I enjoyed snorkelling, but Condor had difficulty understanding the concept and I could only ever see her four legs thrashing back and forth in front of me often ramming me and tipping me over. It was a time to escape all the stress and trauma of my challenging work for a while and it was extremely idyllic.

                   Walking a deserted Paradise Island Beach in 1976 with Condor.

She did come with many bad habits though, her most worrying being her dislike of certain Bahamian men wearing straw hats which was quite a problem in sunny and hot Nassau. It may have been a throwback from some earlier event of ill treatment. I discovered this aversion the hard way while snoozing one afternoon on Paradise Island beach when I was rudely awoken by Condor kicking sand in my face as she hurtled off growling menacingly. By the time I lifted my head she was chasing a poor terrified man in a straw hat out to sea. By the time I got to her, the frazzled man had completed a nifty 30-yard swim out to sea. I apologized profusely to him and half-heartedly admonished my bodyguard, but the incident had worried me, and from that moment on I had to shout at any men in straw hats that crossed our path and quickly restrain her whenever I heard a rumbling growl and raised hackles.

Her other problems included severe flatulence mainly caused by pigging any food material she came across either fresh or decomposing. Her stomach would often worryingly bloat to the size of a beach ball to the point of exploding and she would lie on a cold floor moaning. But she never learned the lesson and wherever we went, her search for edibles was always her focus. My long-suffering friends, when I was invited to dinner parties, were very tolerant of the occasional stench emanating from wherever she lay and to their credit carried on conversing without pause.

She was an old sea dog.  

She also had the less than endearing hobby of either eating or rolling in horse manure and as I spent a lot of time dealing with abandoned and ill-treated horses, she had plenty of opportunity. I tried in vain to stop this habit to no avail, but fortunately her rolling preference was for dried dung which was easy to brush off her. At every opportunity she would squirm on her back while uttering groans of ecstasy and having shouted at her she would always accept the scolding in good spirit and carry on. But her penchant for eating fresh dung was a no-no and I did have to stop her in her in her tracks.

First thing every morning I had a routine of touring the Humane Society compound and clinic inspecting the animals and Condor insisted on and enjoyed accompanying me. She would watch me pick up my keys from the kitchen table and grab my mug of tea (I am English after all) and she would lazily heave herself up, stretch and make sure she was out the door before me with her stump of a tail wagging enthusiastically. She liked these early morning walkabouts as it gave her a chance to meet and greet the animals and more importantly search out any discarded or uneaten food.

Condor the Black Labrador looking out over Nassau harbour
Condor spots something going on in Nassau harbour 

She enjoyed speeding to emergency calls.

Our day would then start, and we would have no idea what to expect not that Condor cared as long as she was along for the ride. I enjoyed patrolling the island attending incidents and stopping off at local villages to chat to residents about their complaints and worries over animals. Condor particularly loved speeding to emergencies sometimes with my blue light flashing and she enjoyed leaning from side to side as we turned corners at speed. (I was also a district constable in the Royal Bahamian Police Force (RBPF) so allowed to do it. Condor liked children and the attention she got from them which was a bonus for me when on school visits. She became a mascot, a favourite with the children who would wave at her as we drove past with her head out of the window benignly accepting the adulation.

We had three vehicles two of which were Volkswagens with bench seats and obviously Condor always wanted the window seat which wasn’t a problem unless I had a colleague with me.  Then there was a lot of pushing and jostling to make her sit in the middle of us. Even if you managed this, she would lean heavily against you or lean over and drool while standing painfully on your groin until you gave up and let her have her own way. Then with the seating arrangements organized we could get under way. She often tried to pre-empt this problem by getting into the vehicle we were going to use before we arrived (she cleverly knew which one it was as we usually left the doors open to air it out) and we would play a rotten trick on her by getting into a different one.

Condor always had to be the first into the ambulance. Photo: John Brookland 1975

My work often placed me in sticky situations. On many occasions I was threatened with a knife, cutlass, broken bottle or aggression, but the presence of Condor barking and growling and the implied threat of letting her out of the vehicle often had a calming effect on the situation. It was a bluff on my part as I would never have put her in danger, but I discovered there was a certain amount of black dog syndrome on the island or a wariness of dogs of that ilk. I am sure that having her as a sidekick prevented me from receiving serious injury and gave me confidence.

I could always rely on her to cheer me up.

Near the end of my tenure everything began to fall apart. My personal car was stolen and I was insured for theft so it put me in debt, relations with my employers were at an exceptionally low ebb, I was beginning to feel homesick and I was suffering from work overload and intense emotional and physical strain with the amount of animal cruelty and suffering I was witnessing and dealing with. It came to a head on evening when I just walked out of the house in a daze not knowing where I was going. A concerned Condor tagged along as always, and I eventfully found myself sitting on a deserted Saunders beach a mile or so from home having a good cry with Condor leaning against me. She did her best to cheer me up without success, so she sauntered to the water’s edge, grabbed a piece of wood, came back and threw it at my feet. She returned to the water and barked encouragingly until I got up, smiled and started playing with her. It seemed she was trying to say that life was just a beach so let's forget everything else and just get on with it and we did. I could always rely on her to cheer me up.

Condor's favourite pastime of retrieving driftwood. Photo: John Brookland 1975

Coinciding with this I was offered out of the blue an extremely interesting job back in the UK and decided for the sake of my sanity I could not pass it up. Immediately my main concern was what to do about Condor. I cannot explain how reliant and emotionally connected I was to her at that juncture and to leave her behind was unthinkable. I owed her so much as I know I could not have survived my time in the Bahamas without her.

At the time dog quarantine had just been introduced in the UK under new Rabies Laws (which coincidentally I was about to enforce in my new job at Heathrow Airport) and I knew that she would have to undergo six months solitary confinement in a kennel. She was not a young dog and was accustomed to so much freedom and life in a hot climate. I wasn’t sure it would be fair to take it all away from her, but I didn’t think I could give her up as we had formed such an incredible bond, so I started applying for the required import license and quarantine space.

She needed a clean bill of health and the Society veterinarian volunteered to do all the necessary tests. It was at this point that he gave me the devastating news that she was suffering from the latter stages of heartworm which was not treatable even though she was not showing any outward symptoms. He advised that it would be unfair and selfish to put her through such a traumatic journey and change of lifestyle when her days were numbered. I was heartbroken at having to make the terrible decision to leave her behind, but everyone promised to look after her for me and she would remain as the Society mascot.


I shall never forget my day of departure when she trotted out to the car with me and sat by my side with an enquiring look. I had tried to say my last emotional goodbyes to her in my house but gave her a last cuddle. As we drove away, I looked back to see her sitting in the middle of the car park with a resigned look on her face and I was absolutely devastated.

Postscript.

I kept in touch and was informed that she soon settled into her old routine. She survived another eighteen months and I did see her again on a return visit a year later but kept my distance and I was pleased to see that she appeared happy with life. She was an amazing dog and I talk often of her particularly when I see a black Labrador on a beach with a red collar, which is often.

I was chief inspector of the Bahamas Humane Society in Nassau from 1975-77 during which time I faced almost overwhelming incidents of animal abuse. 


 

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Are the Barbara Woodhouse Days Back

Dog training is big business and lucrative.

Photo: Pixabay

Recently I watched an exasperated woman screaming at her cowering misbehaved dog and violently pulling its head back whenever it got more than a foot in front of her, almost lifting the large dog off the ground. After half a dozen such actions I decided to admonish her, (not always a good plan), but she turned her frustration and anger on me saying she was only doing what her dog behaviourist had advised her to do, and suggested I should have a word with him. I replied that I would be glad to do so, but I was sure he had not told her to be so violent. My wife gave her the parting comment that the days of Barbara Woodhouse were long over, but are they?
For those too young to remember Barbara Woodhouse, she was a highly celebrated and regarded dog trainer across the world in the 1970’s and 1980’s with TV programmes, books and documentaries about what many looked upon as domineering, heavy handed and cruel methods.

Controversy over Jeff Gellman

History often repeats itself and recently there has been controversy about American dog trainer Jeff Gellman who allegedly hits dogs with a rolled up towel and uses prong collars and remote control shock collars, which are in common use in North America and are readily available on the internet in the U.K. He has become a YouTube celebrity and owners queue up willing to pay large sums for a session with him. Dog training is big business and very lucrative but as always totally unregulated.
But his methods highlight the great division that still exists after decades of research and debate regarding the best and most humane way of training a dog to fit in with our modern lifestyles. Every self-proclaimed dog behaviourist and trainer has their own ideas or copy the method of the day. But then everybody likes to think they are a dog expert.

The argument over negative and positive reinforcement.

The main division between the “experts” is whether “aversive” or “negative reinforcement” training i.e. using a bit of brute force like Mr Gellman and Barbara Woodhouse is cruel and counter productive and causes stress compared with “positive reinforcement” where dogs are bribed with treats and praised to toe the line.
A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour indicated that 65% of dogs trained with “aversive” or “negative reinforcement” methods i.e. using punishment showed signs of stress such as mouth licking, shaking and whining compared with only 8% of those trained by “positive” or reward and praise methods. Whether this is scientifically sound or not, common sense dictates that hitting, yanking and electrocuting dogs is probably not the most humane course of action.

Too Many Experts

The new science of animal behaviour means we now live in a world of dog behaviourists, clinical animal behaviourists, psychiatrists, counsellors and a variety of trainers with diplomas and degrees just to make dogs compliant and contented with our modern lifestyles. But still we argue, debate and write scientific papers but still cannot come up with a consensus.
Realistically the sheer act of training a dog to make it comply with our will and our selfish demands is an act of dominance whatever method used. For many owners, like the exasperated lady, any method that solves the problem is OK with them, cruel or not.
But ironically it is us who have inflicted our mental health and behavioural problems onto them through our lack of understanding of their needs. They have to be under our control at all times and because of our hectic lives we have no option but to leave them home alone, fail to walk them as we should and generally do not give them the attention they desire. We have confused them to the point where they do not understand their role in our lives.
I do wonder if we read too much into dog training. I have always been willing to put up with the odd foibles a dog of mine might have and find ways of circumventing any problems that might arise because of them, rather than destroying their will and individual character, but this method doesn’t have all the answers either. Perhaps we should give more thought to acquiring a dog in the first place if we are unable to cater for all their needs and desires rather than always trying to transform them to our requirements.


Monday, 1 June 2020

Don't Jog The Dog



Just because many dogs can run fast it doesn’t necessarily mean they enjoy running long distances


I remember the days when enjoying the company of your dog involved taking it for a walk, allowing it to sniff wherever and whenever it wanted and for whatever time, meet other canine friends, running the odd 5o metres with it, throwing a ball, conversing and allowing it to be …. well a dog. But such interaction doesn't seem to fit in with our hectic modern lifestyles anymore and we appear to be selfishly insisting they participate in our various leisure pursuits rather than considering their desires and needs.

Just because many dogs can run fast it doesn’t necessarily mean they enjoy running long distances at a set pace, following some form of personal training regime or extreme sport we have devised for them and perhaps conceitedly believe they may enjoy. Dogs are well-known for putting up with anything we throw at them in order to please their human carers. There is a fine line between running with your dog for enjoyment and running them into the ground. Given the choice most dogs might prefer a walk and a bit of boisterous play.
There are plenty of blogs expounding the virtues of enjoying jogging or running with your dog. They give helpful tips on special equipment that makes the task easier, the health hazards your dog might suffer, training methods and the best breed to choose, but rarely query the necessity in the first place. It must be questionable surely to choose a breed of dog on the basis of whether it is a suitable running partner. And if health hazards are potentially involved, should we be putting a dog at risk just because we haven’t the time or patience to take it for a walk or sadly cannot find a human running buddy.

Keep up - those are the rules

“I release the hound and let him roam off leash. I continue on my run and let Rodney sprint off, sniff, and do his thing. But he has to catch up to me by the time we get back to the path. Those are our rules. He revels in the burst of freedom, but he yields and returns to me at the end again. He comes close so I can clip him back onto the leash without stopping”. gearjunkie-Running with your dog
As in most things some people can take it too far, literally too far in this case, often 20 miles or more and invent and participate in trendy and extreme and totally unnecessary canine buddy sports such as marathons, canicrosscanibike and caniscoot. Others do not heed any advice and just take their poor dog off without any preparation regardless of breed or health considerations.
Dogs are unfairly given special training to ensure they keep pace, maintain a steady rhythm, drink from a bottle on the move, refrain from stopping to sniff, defecate or pee and keep to the middle of wide paths away from foliage that may distract them. This is because it is an inconvenience to clear up after the dog or carry a poo bag.
“Running with a bag of dog poop is a bad time. I plan my running route so that Rodney can go near where there is a public garbage can. If you want to maximise your run, this is a crucial thing. Build this strategy into your running routes so you’re not stuck carrying a stinky bag for more than a few hundred feet".

Veterinary profession advice

Veterinary professions around the world seem to sit on the fence in regard to any welfare issues involved in running dogs, neither condemning or promoting it. Many veterinarians consider 8 months to 18 months as the best time to start a dog running and of course an expensive full health examination to make sure it is capable. Dogs with arthritis, heart and respiratory disease and breeds with snub noses are thankfully ruled out but owners are warned about injuries, damage to paws on hot tarmac or by salt in cold weather. No consideration is given to possible mental health implications in regard to restricting them from enjoying their natural behaviours.
The pet trade, as always, is not one to miss out on a new trend that has potential profits by supporting and provides dog running bootees, special running leads for one or more dogs, drinking canteens, sweat bands and who knows what. None of which would be necessary if we didn’t insist on having a canine running buddy instead of a human one
One of the most infuriating things for some dog lovers is to see a person jogging with their dog, headphones on or looking down at their Fitbit or phone without checking on their dog at all. They are often oblivious that their dog may be in discomfort or needing a water break. Dogs will naturally slow down or stop just like us humans when they get tired, but for some runners this is not allowed. Many will soldier on because they want to please and are eager to remain at our sides or preferably in front which only makes them strive even more.
I am all for spending as much time as possible with your dog, but for me the increasing trend to utilise dogs in extreme sports and as part of personal training is a step to far. It is an unnecessary, unnatural and arguably harmful pastime which perhaps should be discouraged. It is strange that in this era where we trying to get away from the old adage that dogs are purely property that we can do with what we want, we appear to be doing exactly that.