The Muddy Dog Challenge: how to get in on the (mucky) fun 

Bored of the dog park? Discover a new way to get fit with your pooch

3 minute read

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Taking on a fitness challenge is something you can share with your furry friend, thanks to Battersea's 'Woof Mudder' style events.

We sent pet writer Rachel Spencer and her dog Daisy to experience it.

  • Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is holding Muddy Dog Challenges across the UK
  • They're fun for dogs and a great way to raise money to help needy animals
  • Take on the UK's first 2.5km and 5km obstacle runs that you can tackle with your dog

We've heard of humans taking part in muddy obstacle races, but now our four-legged friends are getting in on the action with a series of Muddy Dog Challenges run by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. 

Do you fancy a fun challenge to help you get in shape for the summer? If so, why not take on the Muddy Dog Challenge and help support the work of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home while you're at it.

The Muddy Dog Challenge is an event with a difference, because not only can you run the muddy obstacle course, if you have a dog they can take part too. In 2019, Muddy Dog Challenges are in Exeter, Windsor, Cheltenham, Nottingham, Manchester, Tunbridge Wells, Newcastle and Leeds.

Rachel Spencer and her dog Daisy braved the mud at 2017's event, and spoke with pet experts at the event. Here, she shares what she learned about tackling a Muddy Dog Challenge with your pet.

Reinforcing relationships

'We wanted to create something that people could take part in with their dogs,' says event manager Emma Lovesey. 'Obstacle races are popular, so we had the idea to bring this together with something dogs love too: mud.'

'It's about reinforcing the loving relationship we have with our dogs and the feedback has been brilliant. You can see from the dogs' faces they're having so much fun, while raising money to help other animals too.'

Get active and muddy with your dog this summer

Rachel and Daisy: Muddy Dog challengers

'Along with my rescue dog Daisy, I joined 700 owners at Woollaton Hall in Nottingham. We did the 2.5km course, which is a total of six hurdles, ranging from tunnels to trampolines. There's also a 5km option with more obstacles if you're feeling adventurous.

By far the most difficult were the Muddy Tunnels – six inches of sludge that had me sinking up to my elbows! Daisy, wisely perhaps, teetered around the side, barely dirtying her paws, while I emerged caked in mud.

When we ran through the finish line, we were greeted by a medal held by one of the friendly team members organising the event.'

Watch some of Rachel and Daisy’s best moments from the challenge in the video below.

Watch our video about Rachel and Daisy at Muddy dog 2017

View video transcript

Making sure your dog is prepared

'Ahead of the event, make sure your dog is fit enough to take part, and of a healthy weight,' says vet Natalie Scroggie from Priory Vets in Beeston, who helped care for dogs at the Nottingham event. 'Feed them a small meal at least four hours before, then a couple of hours after the race they can have their normal food.'

Natalie urges owners to familiarise their pets with obstacles and water in advance. However, volunteers are on hand to care for dogs, who, like Daisy, didn't want to tackle all of them.

'Remember, it's a fun event to raise money for a very good cause,' says Natalie. 'Don't make your dogs do anything they don't want to do.'

Natalie's survival tips for the Muddy Dog Challenge are also great to keep in mind when exercising pets during the warmer months. 

'The most important thing to remember when running with your dog in the summer is to make sure they don't overheat,' Natalie says. 'Have water for your dog, something for them to cool down in and an area where there's shade. If you get muddy, wash your dog when you get home and dry them off.'

A great day out for your furry friend

Rewarding your dog 

Rachel says Daisy was shivering after a hosing down at the end of the race, so she took her straight home for a warm bath. 

'It's nice for the dogs to have a bit of a pamper afterwards,' says Laura Redstone, a grooming expert from For All Dogkind, who make natural pet shampoo.

'If you have a dog that loves getting filthy, it's best to bath them regularly or each time they get mucky. Choose a shampoo that's made of natural ingredients and sulphate free, as this will clean their fur and skin without stripping oils from their coat.

'Give them a nice warm bath then, once they're dry, give their coat a brush and check for lumps, bumps, fleas, bugs and ticks. Don't forget to check their paws too.' 

Ten things you'll need on the day

As well as preparing your dog, you will need a few things for the Muddy Dog Challenge too:

  1. Poo bags – make sure the course is kept as clean as can be.
  2. Treats – use titbits to encourage them over the obstacles.
  3. Water – have a fresh bowl and bottle for your dog, and a bottle for you.
  4. An old collar and lead – your pooch will be caked in muck, so don't put on their best, fashionable number.
  5. Old sportswear and trainers – jewellery or a fitness tracker may get lost.
  6. Food – give your dog a light breakfast a few hours before so they have time to digest.
  7. Safety pins –to fix your number to your top.
  8. Baby wipes – there's no showers, so these are best for cleaning up.
  9. Change of clothes – you will be covered in mud afterwards.
  10. Bum bag – ideal for carrying your phone, camera, treats and keys.

Finally, make sure you have pet insurance for your dog, so you know you'll be covered if anything should happen.

Full training and fundraising support will be given to all participants to help you make the most of the challenge. These tips should see you and your dog through the Muddy Dog Challenge, and even come in handy all year round. When you're outdoors, whatever the weather, let your dog be a dog and have fun.

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