How not to run downhill when attached to your dog!

I doubt I’m the first, and certainly won’t be the last, to have trouble keeping my dog from running at what feels like 100 mph when we’re negotiating any steep downhills.

My larger dog Red is a demon going downhill. It’s even worse if our other dog Sidney is in front because Red likes to lead so she’ll do her darndest to get past.

My natural tendency is to keep the line close to me and yell ‘steady’ while trying not to fall flat on my face.

I decided to ask the canicross community for their expert advise. The canicross trail runner page is great for this type of thing as people are more than happy to help (well most of them, as you’ll see)….

Here’s some of the comments I got. It did give me a laugh but I did also get some very good advice.

Hi. Just after a bit of advice please. What’s the best way to run downhill with your dog when they are going a bit too fast/pulling a bit too hard for your liking (esp when you have dodgy knees!)? I have a strong dog which doesn’t help (although still waiting for her to perfect the uphill bit!). I have tried saying ‘steady’ &/or will hold onto the line for extra effect. So not sure if it’s just a matter of practice and perseverance or I’m missing a trick? Any thoughts much appreciated before I trade her in for a dachshund , thanks
  • Mike Hawker I find a quick prayer helps and hope for the best
  • Dave Southern 1) Train them to run to heel on the steep bits 2) Run faster Good luck
  • Hannah Watkins Second that …. and if all else fails, dig your heels in and water ski
  • Mark Zikking If u can get her to come into your side then encourage her to pull at the botton
  • Gemma Bitaraf I EVENTUALLY got Chester to do this at some point last year. We’d done so many races involving downhills and me tugging at the line shouting ‘steady, steady’ and not really having any effect. I’m not sure exactly how I got it to click but somehow I managed to slow him down (I had to walk to practice), bring him to my side with a command ‘HERE’. What he really loved was the build up of anticipation for when I would release him an ‘OK, GO GO GO’ and he could begin to pull again. A bit like releasing an excited dog from a stay. I think he also realised that we got down a lot faster if he came by my side. Practice, practice, practice and be consistent I think they will get it
  • Gary Turner Judo. Always Judo. Breakfalls will save your life.Alternatively, scream, flail the arms wildly, slip and slide and tumble….I have the same problem with my two huskies. Coming down Pen Y Fan on last years Ultra was agony. Walking lunges and around 10 tumbles down one of Wales’ largest mountains. Not funny. It nearly killed me. I’ve been training mine to run beside me to the command “with me”. Successful until a deer. Or a squirrel. Or a sheep. Or a leaf. Or anything….October 16 at 3:06pm · Like · 15
  • Jo Ann Bonnick I just started running faster….
  • Gail Walker Thanks guys. Very helpful (and v amusing!) tips. Think I will try the heal/with me/here idea before enrolling for any martial arts classes although I do a mean roly poly
  • Cath Nicoll Scream!! Mind you the saying “scream if you want to go faster” does spring to mind so perhaps not!
  • Samantha Dunbar Don’t ask my other half, he is related to a Tasmanian devil when it comes to running downhill. No offence Mark Dunbar!
  • Marsha White We have an “easy!” command. If she gets too amped up, she knows to check herself and to slow down just a hair if I cry “easy!” it took some time, but I would just pull back on the leash and slow down while saying it. Eventually she realized that “easy” meant slow down. Good luck!
  • Dario Poloni You have two options; One is suicide by descent, where you continually attempt to get your dog to slow down as it runs downhill. However smart and well trained your dog is eventually you will fall and keep falling if the dog pulls you downhill. The second option is to train your dog to run behind you on command – personally I would recommend the second option. Far less blood, bandages, screaming, yelling, knee guards, biofreeze and antiseptic.
  • Liz Vassell Like Gary Turner, if my beagle foxhound cross scents a fox/rabbit/squirrel/cat or thinks he sees one, screaming, arm flailing and moving my little legs as fast as they can is about all I can hope for!
  • Gary Turner There is another way. A local blacksmith friend of mine is doing some work for me. Not sure about the weight issue, as it may be a bit of a problem over 42miles, however, we’ve worked out a solution. A great big iron anchor. This year when we start the descent down Pen Y Fan I’m throwing it out the back. The anchor won’t stop them, yet it may just slow them down so I can just flail and wail…
  • George N Sarah Humphreys If your going to use the steady command technique then teach the dog on the flat. What i do to start is i lean back a bit, if he slows i use the word steady and praise. when i get to point i want dog to move on i just say on on. I also use the steady command in agility (normally before seesaw) so it is reinforced. Once happy its working then i can progress to downhills. I do practice downhill running without the dog to improve technique.
  • George N Sarah Humphreys i guess the word doesn’t matter its consistency, so if you wish instead of steady you could use something that springs to mind when going down hill like “oh Sh*t”
    Tempting as it is to ‘scream, flail the arms wildly, slip and slide and tumble’, the good news is that I’ve been trying using the words ‘with me’ whilst keeping Red next to me as we run downhill. It’s just a word I use for canicross & it seems to be working, with perseverance!
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