It beggars belief that, as temperatures and humidity have soared over the last few days over much of England and Wales, people are still forcing dogs to go running.
Owners may think that the dog enjoys it and is getting wonderful exercise, although many of them wouldn’t even notice if their dog turned belly up as they are too far ahead and too busy being preoccupied with the muzak pumping into their ears and the digits ticking by on their exercise monitors. The attitude seems to be to combine two chores into one. They have no interaction with their dogs and – more importantly for other people – no control over them either.
Dogs that are forced to run often appear aggressive to other dogs as they have no choice but to rush past in order not to be left behind. They have no options to stop and sniff or even eliminate – the most important part of any walk. Of course, if they are desperate and do stop, the owner won’t pick up because they are blissfully ignorant and uncaring. Fearful dogs hang back caught between the Scylla of the dog that frightens them and the Charybdis of their owner’s oblivious back disappearing into the distance until they eventually make a panicked dash for it. Owners may pamper their own sore muscles afterwards but don’t even consider that their dog is suffering too.
Even sled dogs that are bred to run would not be worked in the spring, summer or early autumn when temperatures are simply too high for them to be able to cool down efficiently. They are also not running on hard, hot urban surfaces which jar joints and stress muscles, not to mention inhaling deeply of the toxic cocktail of pollutants.
If you get masochistic pleasure out of running in hot weather, don’t inflict it on your poor dog and don’t shave him to within an inch of his life so that he has no protection against the elements just because you can’t be bothered to look after his coat.