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Runners and dog walkers: keeping the peace between 2- and 4-legged friends

We love dogs, but we're not fans of getting chased while running

Many of us are dog lovers, and we’re usually happy to see our furry four-legged friends. When we’re out running, though, our encounters with dogs aren’t always positive. This is a message to all runners and dog walkers: we’re all sharing the road, path and sidewalk, and everyone should feel safe and accepted there. Here are some things for both parties — runners and dog walkers — to keep in mind when out and about to ensure that everyone enjoys their time. 

Use a leash 

If your dog is the placid type that doesn’t bat an eye at a passing squirrel, we trust you to use your judgment about letting it off-leash. If your dog is excited to see other people, though, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. As runners, we get in the zone pretty easily, and if we see a dog running or jumping toward us, we can’t always tell if they want to play or if they mean us harm. Sorry, but shouts of “It’s OK, he’s friendly!” aren’t always reassuring. Nothing against you or your dog – we’re sure he is nice, but we’d feel safer if he wasn’t cutting us off or jumping on us. 

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Chill out 

On the flip side, sometimes runners need to chill out. It can be scary to be jerked out of the zone by the sight of a dog barreling toward you, but that doesn’t justify angrily abusing the owner. If a dog bounds toward you, try not to lose your cool or get upset with the dog’s owner. Slow down or stop and let its owner take care of it before continuing on your way. (Owner, a brief “Sorry!” goes a long way toward calming any hard feelings.)

Photo: Katie Mills

Have a seat 

To those dog walkers who use a leash, thank you, but we have another request: if your dog is a jumper, can you move to the side or have it sit down when you see runners coming? Again, this is nothing against you or your dog. If anything, it just shows that your dog is affectionate and wants to spread the love. But as already mentioned, we don’t know that when your dog leaps in our direction. If you think your dog might jump as we pass by, ask it to heel and sit before watching us go. 

RELATED: Cactus the dog finishes Marathon des Sables

Create some room

Once again flipping this situation, responsibility goes both ways here. If you’re running and you see someone up ahead with their dog, move over to give yourself some space as you pass by. This is especially important if you’re running up behind someone. They don’t know you’re coming, but their dog probably hears you. Make some room, pass them at a safe distance and then return to your lane. 

New York City Marathon Dog

Be kind to each other 

Ultimately, we’re all outside because we enjoy the fresh air and activity, so the bottom line is to just be friendly and considerate. You would hate it if someone ruined your time outside by being rude to you, so don’t be rude to others. If a dog jumps at you, the owner will almost certainly say sorry. Accept the apology and keep going.