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 Running on pavement
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176 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2008 :  3:46:24 PM  Show Profile  Visit heathera's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi all,
I'm trying to convince somebody else that training dogs on pavement is is a bad idea, but I'm lacking any hard evidence.

Who out there has personally experienced dog injuries running dogs on hard surfaces. What distance were you running, how often and at what speed or gait? What sorts of injuries resulted?

To hear from the other side of the argument, who has run dogs successfully over concrete with no problems? How often, what distance and at what speed?

If you don't want to "go public" but still want to help me out, you can go to, hit 'contact' and send me a note privately. If I get a decent number of answers, I'll post the poll result back here (without names)

Thanks in advance for sharing your experience.

Edited by - heathera on 04/11/2008 07:32:13 AM


831 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2008 :  7:32:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Heathera - I have a 7 year old AIREDALE who started out as a "sidewalk mushing" dog; 5 miles 3-5 days a week, mostly trotting, with a few bursts of 22mph when (controlled) chaseing after squirrels and cats. I didn't know any better, and we did this for probably 2 years.

BUT - I have also been doing some similar training with my other adult airedales on a paved rail-trail, maybe once or twice a month for 5-7 miles, and have seen no problems! My guess is that this breed just has tough feet. They are pulling a very light load, and not working very hard - not much more than just a 5-7 mile fast walk, is my guess. Only difference is that instead of choking themselves on a choke coller walking, they are in a harness and no longer "injuring" their necks. (other training varies from grassey paths to dirt trails throug the woods.) so at least they are getting a variety now that I live out in the country.

The benefit is never having to trim nails!

Sally J. Dawson and the Mushing'dales
N1BCF; "RED HAT" Musher
Live each day as if it is your last
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973 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2008 :  7:42:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit EllieRose's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Like Sally I went through the didn't know better phase as well. I ran dogs on paved roads, or beside them all the time. I never saw problems so I never questioned what I was doing. The dogs were happy and loved it. We would do short runs, 4-5 miles and at an easy run.

Now that said- I will not do it again. This last season in early fall I was gung ho to go and my dogs had torn nails scuffed up pads and the final slap upside the head to quit was the sprained and resprained wrist in my lead dog. Every one of these dogs had run with me before in the same conditions. The difference? I pushed them.

I would say that an easy, very easy run wouldn't be as hard on the dogs however if the other person is looking to really condition and train the dogs hard they'd be foolish to do it on a hard surface. In a nutshell I wouldn't recommend it.
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Willys Dad

139 Posts

Posted - 04/10/2008 :  9:07:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Concrete is a "dead surface". If you set a battery on it the battery will be drained dead in no time flat. Living things are batteries basically. Bodies are positively charged. Running on a negatively charged surface will drain energy out of the body. Unlike dirt or even rock. There is no energetic give and take, only take. Can't be a good thing. It's not good for humans with state of the art running shoes to run on dead surfaces. Can't be good for dogs with no source of return on their feet.

The more people I meet the more I like dogs and their people.
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3105 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2008 :  06:47:16 AM  Show Profile  Visit RSmith's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Well, one time I lost the brakes on my ATV. Still had SOME breaking, just enough to slow them down to maybe 10mph but not enough to STOP.
I had a larger string of dogs on and they missed the turn I wanted them to take and ended up basically running 3 miles on pavement.
Well, constantly shouting 'EASY, EASY' was working so-so. BUT, EVEN at 10mph half the dogs feet were destroyed for a couple weeks.

Thats how much I like pavement. The thing is when I slow down that much they keep DRIVING hard (not good on pavement) and I think maybe if I kept the pace to a 'medium' pace maybe they wouldn't have been trashed as much. ?

Roy Smith
Adirondack Kennel
Skandinavian Hounds/Stagsters

Edited by - RSmith on 04/11/2008 06:48:10 AM
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347 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2008 :  1:53:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
For short runs, infrequent or free running once in a while its not too big of a deal. Training consistenly on asphalt will literally wear holes in the pads after a while. I used to rollerblade with dogs on old country roads and never had too much problems but it was generally less than 5 miles once or twice a week. From what I understand it takes a LOOOOONG time to heal pad damage cause by wearing holes in the pads.
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574 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2008 :  7:00:38 PM  Show Profile  Visit Dougskijors's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I scooter a few km on roads sometimes to get out of town and I notice the dogs strongly prefer to run on the unpaved shoulder - so I think they are telling me they do not like pavement.
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194 Posts

Posted - 04/12/2008 :  09:31:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When we were just starting out and lived in the city we would canicross with our dogs on the sidewalk. The dogs did develop "holes" in their pads and we soon learned to avoid concrete and asphalt. Those two first dogs we had never developed to be hard working dogs.

My take on running dogs on pavement (and I could be really off?) is that the dogs will quickly learn to take it easy to avoid hurting their feet. Basically by running dogs on those surfaces you are conditioning them to not pull hard or run fast... which is fine with some people, just make sure to keep up on the foot care.
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Jake Robinson

773 Posts

Posted - 04/12/2008 :  7:10:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As someone who personally hammers out many hard miles on paved surfaces, I would definitely voice against it. As was stated earlier, even with high-tech running shoes, runners have problems. Not only would I be concerned about pads, but mainly about wrists and shoulders. If I run to much on paved roads, I begin to have a slurry of ankle and knee problems. I can run up to 55 miles per week on tar, anything more than that has to be done on dirt. And this is with highly developed, padded running shoes, imagine how hard it is on dogs' joints.

Do it by dog,
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546 Posts

Posted - 04/13/2008 :  08:19:30 AM  Show Profile  Visit hnewman's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Wondered if anyone was going to mention the impact of pavement on the rest of the dog's body beside feet. Even running on hard pack dirt and gravel roads can cause injuries because of the surface does not give.
Wrist and shoulder injuries can easily occur when running on pavement or any hard surface.

I do not run my guys on pavement but they do have to run on hard packed prairie roads that when they are dried out are as hard as pavement! Team runs along the edge on the grassy areas where it is not as hard. Also I go slower with them on the harder surface to avoid wrist and shoulder problems. And I have had dogs with wrists problems when they had to run on the hard packed roads and there was no softer edge. They also have bruised their feet and had abrasions from the hard surface. We had the abrasion problem a lot this winter on the hard packed snow on a lake we were taking people out on for dog sled rides.


Prairie Isle
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62 Posts

Posted - 04/14/2008 :  12:57:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Living in the city, it is hard to get the dogs out onto trails that are not paved. I walk/run my dogs about five km's a day on the sidewalk. They are not pulling any heavy weight, except when I have them hooked up to me for canicross training. Maybe their pads have slowly adapted to it as they have done this from a very early age, but I have never noticed any problems. We also slow down before we finish, and I massage them when we are done(don't know if this helps, but it can't hurt). I try to get them onto trails as often as possible, but haven't seen any indication of joint problems in either of them.

I do agree that it can't be nearly as good as trails, but if you don't have much of a choice, you take what you can get.

I would like to know what "holes" in the pads look like.

"In a perfect world, every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog." Unknown
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62 Posts

Posted - 04/15/2008 :  11:35:40 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Looking back at the other replies, I am starting to wonder if it is that bad to be running with my dogs on the pavement. If they aren't pulling any weight, or going for long distances, can it be ok for them? I think I am starting to feel guilty that I could be hurting them.

"In a perfect world, every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog." Unknown

Edited by - cdhusky on 04/15/2008 11:36:32 AM
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18 Posts

Posted - 03/20/2012 :  4:44:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
i have border collies. i learned my lesson on pavement when i pushed my dogs and they had torn pads. i felt very bad. if we go at a slow pace no problem. no damage.
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140 Posts

Posted - 03/20/2012 :  6:09:34 PM  Show Profile  Visit Cac's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I run 5 dogs on longer runs running on pavement, and I have learned that when the road is hot for you to stand on with YOUR bare feet, running dogs is not the best idea. I have had 2 dogs rip their paws on pavement, and it definitly wears down the nails. If going for runs longer then 10 miles, I suggest bringing dog booties along. I know this because I live in the city and that is all that we have here

A musher pursuing her dreams of owning her own with sled dog kennel and running the Iditarod!
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92 Posts

Posted - 03/21/2012 :  07:21:26 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
IMO pads are the least of your worries. Ask anyone who works on a hard surface all day. Its hard on your joints. Next time you're at home depot or something like that look what the cashier is standing on. Not the bare concrete, they have a anti-fatigue mat to stand on. I used to get really sore knees working in my wood shop, i put one of those in at my sanding station and it made a huge difference. if they still don't believe you tell them to run on pavement everyday for a week or two and then do the same on something like dirt or grass or a surface that has some give. They WILL feel the difference in there joints. also we have fancy shoes that cushion the blow, dogs don't, so maybe for it to be a fair experiment it should be done barefoot.

The more I get to know some people, the more I like dogs
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9 Posts

Posted - 03/22/2012 :  10:20:25 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I scooter and run my dog along a paved bike path. He has been taught to run on the grass alongside the path. I will run short intervals on the pavement but most of the run will be on the grass. I use the command "Grass" and he moves off the pavement.
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