Training Your Dog to Enjoy Running on Crowded Paths


Have you noticed that your favorite running trails are becoming increasingly crowded? It seems there are a lot more people (and dogs!) hitting the trails lately. This can stress out your normally chill pooch just because of the sheer volume of legs and voices on 'his' trail. Not to mention all of those new smells bombarding him from every direction!

If you want to continue to enjoy the health benefits of running with your best bud, you'll need to help him become acclimated to the increasing numbers of people and dogs he meets on the trail. 

Prepare Your Pup for a Crowd

Gradually expose your pup to as many sights, sounds, smells, textures, places, people, and other animals as you can. Ideally, you'll start this desensitization training while your dog is still young. However, even older dogs will benefit as long as you take things slow and easy.

Make sure your dog has a rock-solid heel command and then always keep her close. Not only will this prevent someone from tripping over her leash and scaring her, but the two of you will create a bigger obstacle that will help divert the crowd around her. 

Teach your pooch to focus on you with the 'watch me' command. While teaching your pup to focus on your face on command, gradually increase the number of distractions and the amount of stimulation going on around her. You'll know she's ready to hit even the busiest trail when she'll focus on you to the exclusion of whatever else is going on around her. Oh, and a treat now and then won't hurt either!

Always remain the calm and confident leader your dog needs. After all, you can't expect her to take crowds in her stride if you're acting freaked out about them. You need to always be on the lookout for potential dangers to your precious pet, too. That's an important part of being a great pack leader!

Is Your Dog a Canine Good Citizen?

The AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate is available to all dogs, pedigreed and mutts alike. In order to earn this prized award, your dog (and you) will need to pass the 10-point CGC test administered by a qualified evaluator.


According to the AKC, the CGC test consists of these 10 steps:

1. Accepting a Friendly Stranger

Your pet shouldn't shy away or act resentful when the evaluator shakes hands with you and spends a few minutes chatting while ignoring your dog.

2. Sitting Politely for Petting

Will your pup sit quietly and allow the evaluator to pet him on the head and body?

3. Appearance and Grooming

Your dog must be in good shape, clean, and well-groomed to pass the test. He also has to allow the evaluator to lightly groom him, check his ears, and inspect each front paw. Vets love this part of the CGC test!

4. Walking on a Loose Lead

Is your pooch attentive enough to follow along as you zig, zag, and repeatedly stop according to the evaluator's directions?

5. Walking Through a Crowd

This is the part of the test that will prove your dog has the confidence to handle those crowded paths. You and your dog will move around within a crowd. Well, at least three people, anyway! Can your pet handle close-quarters encounters without being over-exuberant, shy, or resentful?

6. Sit, Down, and Stay

Your dog has to demonstrate that he knows (and will obey!) these three commands. The stay is done on a 20' line.

7. Come When Called

Will your dog come straight to you when called from 10' away?

8. Reacting Politely to Another Dog

You and another handler will approach each other from about 20' apart. Your dog should show no more than casual interest in the other dog and its owner while the two of you shake hands and visit for a few minutes. He should definitely not try to pull you back towards his new friend when you walk away!

9. Reacting Calmly to a Distraction

How will your dog react when a crutch, cane, or chair is dropped nearby? Other distractions might include a jogger running in front of your dog or a crate dolly being rolled past him. The evaluator will present your dog with two of these distractions and watch for a negative reaction (barking, aggression, panic, or trying to run away). Ideally, your best friend will just show interest or curiosity at the shenanigans going on around him.

10. Supervised Separation

The evaluator will hold your dog's leash for three minutes while you disappear from your pal's sight. Will he remember his training and nice manners when you aren't around to remind him? He can show a bit of anxiety or mild agitation, but he shouldn't show signs of separation anxiety like continuous barking, whining, or pacing. He also shouldn't show aggression toward the evaluator for keeping him away from you! 

A dog that can pass these ten tests is better able to take strangers in his stride, whether on a stroll around the neighborhood or while running on a crowded trail. 

Use the Right Leash

An adjustable, hands-free leash like the Runner's Choice gives you the right amount of control for any situation. It also allows you to maintain the proper form while running, reducing your chances of injuring yourself.

Let's look at the clever details incorporated into this amazing leash:

  • It's made using a unique bungee system with a minimum breaking strength of 215 pounds that will let you control even the strongest dog.
  • This leash is adjustable to three lengths (30", 46", and 54") to ensure your dog is always as close as you need him to be.
  • An adjustable (28" to 48" inch) Belt is included.
  • The Runner's Choice is comfortable to wear and easily absorbs the shocks of a lunging dog. Not that your pet (ahem) would ever do such a thing.
  • The clever design allows you to keep both hands free while still letting you control your dog. 
  • Our Runner's Choice hands-free leashes are made with military-grade webbing and marine-grade bungees for years of dependable use.
  • This tough and durable leash weighs a mere 7.04 oz so it won't wear you down on even the longest runs.

A thoughtful design, high-quality materials, American handcraftsmanship, and superb functionality make the Runner's Choice ideal for even the busiest of running trails.

Check out our Dog Blog for more tips on running with your dog. Oh, and send us a woof if you'd like to learn more about the benefits of using a hands-free leash on your next run!

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