Rules for participating with a dog – and tips for getting him or her ready!
If you are running/walking with a dog, you agree to abide by these terms.
- Limit one dog per person.
- Dogs must be at least 6 months old and up to date on vaccinations.
- Only bring dogs that are well-behaved around other dogs and people.
- Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
- Leashes should be no longer than 6 feet; please keep it short at the start to avoid entanglement.
- No retractable leashes, which may be hazardous in a crowd.
- No dogs in heat.
- All participants must clean up after your dog.
- MSPCA staff or race volunteers reserve the right to stop any runner and his/her dog if a dog appears to be in danger or, in the opinion of staff or volunteers, is being pushed beyond his or her safe limits. No refunds will be given in this event.
- We recommend that dogs run with a harness rather than a neck leash to prevent strain or injury to your dog's trachea.
Now that we’ve got safety covered, here are some tips to help prepare your dog for the big run!
- Be prepared with the right equipment: We recommend fitting your dog for a front clip harness or a head halter. These tools allow you to have the most control of the front of your dog’s body, which can make it much easier to navigate through large crowds and tight spaces. It is important that the equipment fits properly on your dog’s body, and that you introduce your dog to wearing it slowly and positively. Your dog should practice wearing the equipment in the weeks leading up to the race so that he is completely comfortable with it when he’s on the starting ling. You can purchase harnesses and head halters at our adoption centers – and we’re more than happy to help make sure you’ve got the right size and know how to use them!
- Basic training: We recommend teaching any dog to walk nicely on a loose leash, but it’s even more important for a dog that you plan to bring to a race. There will be lots of distractions on the day of the event, and your dog should be prepared to handle them with grace. If you have a dog that becomes nervous or stressed in a hectic environment, he would probably be more comfortable taking a nap on your couch while you’re out winning the race. Even for the most friendly or social dog, it is important that he responds to some basic cues so that you’re able to help him be a politely participate in the festivities.
- Practice getting your dog’s attention in a distracting environment: On race day, there will be lots of things your dog might be more interested in paying attention to than boring mom or dad. It is important that you’re able to quickly and positively get your dog’s attention in such a crazy environment. Start practicing in your home, and once your dog will consistently look at you when asked (for a treat, of course!), try making it a little bit harder. The next step would be asking for his attention outside when there are no other dogs or people around. Once he masters that step, try on a walk when there is another dog up ahead. Slowly add in more distractions until your dog looks at you at the park, on a dog-friendly patio, during a playdate with his friend, etc. This is great practice for helping your dog through a potentially sticky situation, and it’s an excuse to take your dog with you to lots of fun places! Once you have a dog that give you his attention even though there’s something really fun over there, you know you have a great relationship with your pup!
- Build your dog’s endurance: It is important that you practice running for longer distance with your dog before he is expected to run a 5K. Just like people, he needs to build up the right muscles to be able to comfortable complete the race. We recommend starting small, maybe just a 10 minute run, and slowly building up to the full distance. Make sure you always have water available for your dog, and that you’re paying attention to signs that your dog is telling you he’s too tired.