New rule from this weekend for dog owners taking part in Wigan's parkruns

Dog owners have expressed their disappointment at a new rule covering how they run with their pets at popular events in the borough.

Haigh Woodland parkrun and Pennington Flash parkrun - along with all other 5k parkrun events across the country – will no longer allow people to use a waist harness when running with their dog.

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The new rule starts this Saturday and states dogs should be on a “short, hand-held, non-extendable lead by the side of the participant, and within reach at all times”.

It has been introduced by parkrun UK amid concerns about the number of incidents involving dogs and their owners running with waist harnesses.

Hundreds of people take part in the free parkrun events at Haigh Woodland Park and Pennington Flash each Saturday, with many more joining other events around the country and in other parts of the world.

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A statement from parkrun UK said: “Over 10 per cent of incidents at parkrun events involve dogs, and as such we have spent significant time considering the nature, frequency and severity of dog-related incidents.

“Our evidence shows that, when participants use waist harnesses, there is an increased risk of serious incidents, particularly trips and falls, compared to when using hand-held leads. These are typically associated with dogs running in front of other participants, and are occurring when people are together in groups, when people with dogs are overtaking others, and when people with dogs are being overtaken.

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Haigh Woodland parkrun is held each Saturday morning

"Unfortunately, the nature of parkrunning with a waist harness is such that the lead allows dogs to move from side to side, in front of the participant, which can result in the dog suddenly and unexpectedly crossing in front of other participants on the course.”

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The announcement has been met with disappointment by some of those who enjoy running with their dogs at parkrun events, which take place at 9am every Saturday.

On Haigh Woodland parkrun’s Facebook page, Gareth Pratt wrote: “I’ll never have a go at parkrun or the people involved in the decision making because it’s such a force for good in the world and provides so much to so many. Just makes me sad that Zippy’s days as a regular at Haigh parkrun are probably over as it’s not really practical to run with her as required.”

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Helen Seddon said: “As others have said its such a shame for canicross runners. I don't always have time to attend the Haigh Parkrun but me and goose loved it! Friendly people and thank you to all the volunteers for their hard work!”

Chris Bennett said: “We won’t be able to attend ParkRun as a result of this ruling. It’s not safe to run with a dog in the way that’s being suggested. I don’t know anyone who thinks this change is value adding. Such a shame because my dog absolutely loved her Saturday morning runs.”

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Several commenters highlighted plans for a Barkrun UK event – where people can run with their dogs – at Beacon Country Park in Up Holland at 9am on Saturdays.

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