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Dog runners for high energy dogs

by Therese on July 9, 2007

in Dog walking, Pet Care Business News, Pet Sitting, Pets

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Dog walkers have long been an option for pet owners who have dogs that need more exercise than they’re able to give them. A more intense service is starting to grow in popularity for dogs that need something more than just a walk. Kicking it up a notch, dog runners cater to high energy dogs like rottweilers, labrador retrievers, and others that need more of a workout than a walk.

From the Minneapolis – St. Paul StarTribune…

Hiring a dog runner isn’t merely fashionable. “Many people have come to understand that their dog needs more exercise than they can provide,” said Dr. Monica Clare, a critical care specialist at the Animal Surgical and Emergency Center in Los Angeles. “Dog walking is fine, but some dogs need more exercise. Dog runners provide it.”

Seth Chodosh, a founder of Running Paws in Manhattan, has 150 dog-running clients a week, and his business is increasing 20 percent a year. “Some people call us because their dog is overweight and needs to lose pounds,” Chodosh said. “Others’ dogs are too hyper and need to run off excess energy.”

Some deskbound owners dispatch their pets to run miles that they can’t. “In some cases, people do for their dogs what they don’t do for themselves,” said Josh Schermer, founder of nycdogrunners.com, also in Manhattan. “They know they should go to the gym. They should eat better. They should run. So they have their dog do it.”

Schermer’s business employs seven runners. Running Paws has 24. Many are marathoners. Unsurprisingly, they are also actors, novelists, students and singers. “We have a fledgling playwright,” Chodosh boasted.

“It’s a good part-time job for people who work at night, people who run and people who love dogs,” he said. They typically make $20 to $35 per dog per run. Both companies charge $28 to $40, depending on the time. (Runs last from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the dog.) Freelance runners are often cheaper.

[…]

Barbara Stratton, the owner of Gracie, a Portuguese water dog, agreed. She used to leave her pet in her Manhattan apartment during the day. “Gracie developed some really bad habits,” she said. “She learned how to do things like open kitchen drawers and cabinets, find her food and binge. She discovered where I kept the Mother Hubbard cookies.”

Stratton called Running Paws, which now sends a runner to pick up Gracie for her daily 2-mile run. “She’s a really active 12-year-old wonder who needs a lot of exercise,” she said. “I tried dog walkers, but it wasn’t enough exercise for Gracie.”

But there are potential problems with dog running. Clare, the veterinarian in Los Angeles, said, “Big, stupid, young dogs — Labs, Dalmatians, goldens — can never get enough exercise, but dog runners aren’t for every dog.” English bulldogs, for example, aren’t built to run much, she said.

In addition, she warned, “dogs with orthopedic problems or airway diseases called laryngeal paralysis — the airway doesn’t open adequately — can be harmed if they are run too much.”

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Abby K9 July 10, 2007 at 4:02 am

This is a great service in theory, but I would be worried about the dangers this poses to my dog were I to consider hiring them.

The average dog owner does not realize that dogs, like people, need to work up to being able to run 30 to 45 minutes at a time – even a high-energy dog. Kids are high-energy, but that doesn’t mean they have the endurance to run for an extended period of time – dogs are the same way. Just because a dog can run back and forth in the yard fetching a ball does not mean the same dog will be able to go on a 30 minute run.

Who is responsible for working with the dog until it is up to that level? The owner? The dog runner? If it’s the dog runner, how knowledgeable are they about dogs and their behavior? Do they know the dog’s limit?

The other thing that would worry me is that the majority of these dog runners are in large cities such as New York. Where will they run the dog? On asphalt-paved roads and sidewalks? It is not healthy for dogs (or people, for that matter) to run on hard surfaces – it can cause injuries to the bones and joints, especially on long runs. It’s worse for dogs because they don’t have $200 running shoes that absorb the shock and transfer energy on the run, either. Will the dog running company pay if my dog needs expensive surgery to repair damage done on these runs?

There are just too many variables in this for me to consider it a worthy service.

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