Volksmarch translates from German as “people’s walk.” It is a noncompetitive walk, usually 10k. For those who are unfamiliar, here’s a fuller definition from the website of the American Volkssport Association (AVA):
“A volksmarch is a noncompetitive 3.1 mile (5 km) or 6.2 mile (10 km) walk. It’s not a pledge walk, it’s not a race, it is a fun activity you do with a club, with your family, with your pet, or all by yourself. Volksmarching got its name from its origins in Europe. Today there are thousands of volkssport clubs around the world, allied in the International Volkssport Federation, the IVV.”
Volksmarch with your dog
There are a lot of people who love bringing their dogs with them for a volksmarch. And why shouldn’t they? It’s a brilliant idea for both of you to have fun, move together and change the scenery. But, before you plan to do so, please check the specific event rules for each volksmarch. Some may say: “Pets are allowed, but must be leashed at all times during the walk.” Also, make sure your dog has the appropriate temperament and training.
Getting the best out of a volk
smarch with your dog
In order for both you and your dog to take the best out of this amazing walking experience, you need to assure safety and comfortableness.
- Make sure your dog can handle long walks. You can prepare for this by taking him on small walks first, and then increase the time and pace gradually. If your dog has accompanied you on long walks before but there might have been quite a long time since then, you need to make sure he’s not out of shape in order to prevent serious health problems from arising during, or even after finishing a volksmarch.
- Think about the temperature. Really hot weather can make your dog just as uncomfortable as you get in such conditions, sometimes even worse. Before committing to a long walk, make sure you check the forecast for the whole day. If you think it might get too hot, you can even decide to leave your dog home for the day. Don’t worry, there will always be other opportunities!
- Make sure you are carrying lots of water for your dog too. Depending on how big or small your dog is, you need to be aware of the right amount of water that he normally needs and that he would need in long walks. This can be based on your own previous experience, but if you are unsure of this, the best way is to ask your vet about the best quantity.
- Don’t forget to take food for your dog with you. You might be tempted to carry treats and other unhealthy snacks because they seem like an easier option but you don’t have to give up on your dog’s healthy eating routine; you can simply bring his favorite food into zipped packs and decide upon specific times when to feed him.
- Always use a leash for safety. Even though you know that your dog is friendly and could never do any harm to other runners or dogs, you can’t count on how other dogs are. So, the best thing to do for the safety of your dog is to keep him on a leach at all times.
Tensed situations between dogs can rapidly excalate, so there might not be enough time to put the leash on your dog in case he gets a face-to-face confrontation with another dog. It’s always good to prevent such things. Don’t worry, your dog can run without a leash in a more intimate and private area, like the back yard of your own house.
- Pay attention to your dog’s feet and always carry small pet first-aid kit. If the terrain is rough or has large, sharp rocks, make sure your dog’s feet are not cut or injured in any way. It would be preferable to carry your dog over the dangerous parts of the trail and if he is too heavy try to find a safer path for his paws. If injuries occur along the way, use the first-aid kit that you ought to have. This should consist of at least non-stick pads, gauze, cotton and a bandage.
- Make sure u check his fur for insects or burrs. If you walk in tall grass you need to check his entire body for ticks and other infects that might have crawled into his fur. Keep Your dog well-groomed to avoid insect infestation.
Some last tips that are very useful:
- Always pay attention to the surroundings. There might be dogs that are not very well- mannered, usually in the towns and surrounding areas.
- If your dog is distressed you should get him to a safe place, don’t push him too hard.
There are many volksmarchers who usually go with their dogs, and here is a very detailed blog with photos about this wonderful, never-ending experience.
And make sure you check out this Paraglide newsletter reporting on the Third Annual Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Volksmarch, when over 200 dogs happily joined their owners