Running with your dog can be beneficial for both you and your four-legged best friend. There are, however, general rules to follow to keep your pup safe.
Also, many tips can make transitioning from running solo to running with a pup easier for you both.
Benefits To Running With Your Dog
Safety is a huge benefit to running with your dog. When you encounter someone on a run who might have bad intentions, they are less likely to risk tangling with someone with a dog. This is especially true if you have a dog larger in stature.
Anyone with a black labrador retriever will find this hard to believe, but most people find big black dogs to look especially menacing.
It does not matter if your dog is “mean” or not; what matters is that people are more likely to leave you alone if you are running with a dog in tow.
Physical Benefits for You and Your Dog
Whether or not you are currently running, committing to a workout regime that includes your dog is good for both of you. Having a workout buddy is one of the best ways to stay consistent.
If you are already an avid runner, just remember, you did not start off running 30-40 minutes at a stretch – and neither should your dog.
Photo Note: Zeus is an almost ten-year-old black lab. Like many runners, he started running later in life. He prefers cold winter night running, fall trails, and intervals. Short and stocky, he is best suited to a brisk walk, not long-running.
Mental Benefits for Both of You
Dogs thrive on both physical and mental stimulation. Training your dogs to run obediently beside you is not just good physical stimulation; it is good brain work!
Plus, a well-exercised, socialized dog is a well adjusted and happy dog.
Things to Consider
Dogs are people pleasers, and they are likely to work hard to keep you happy, even if they aren’t in good enough shape to run the long haul. Be sure you check some basic boxes before taking Fido out for a run.
✓ Start Easy – Listen to cues from your dog and start out with a couple of miles. Likely your dog might start out fast with excitement, and that’s okay.
However, when your dog slows down, listen to his cues. Walking or stopping needs to be okay as you get him acclimated to running with you.
✓ Pay Attention to Temps – If you are running in shorts and a sports bra, remember your dog is wearing a fur coat. Some dogs are more likely to be able to run in hot temps while others simply cannot in such conditions.
Your husky, who loves to run with you in winter, shouldn’t be expected to run at noon in the summer.
Photo Note: Four-year-old Harley is a blue heeler who runs intervals with his mom, Beth Olmstead. Beth started running with Harley because, as an evening runner, she simply feels safer with her dog by her side.
After running trails, mom is careful to check his paws to be sure they haven’t been cut or injured. Harley is quick to roll over for a post-run paw check and a belly rub.
✓ Watch Puppy’s Paws – If running on hot surfaces, be careful of pups’ paws. On hot days, grass or trail running may be a better choice (make sure you get Rockay’s trail running socks for this). Check your dogs paws after each run just to be sure nothing harmful has happened.
✓ Be Alert – Running with a dog means he could get spooked and end up underfoot. Always be alert while running your dog to prevent tripping over your four-legged friends or the leash.
Photo Note: Kelly Bergquist runs with her buddy Harley, who is three years old. She taught Harley running-specific terms like “focus, turn, easy and nose up.” Harley loves to run, and her furthest run is 5 miles. Harley even won a race called the Riggs Run, which raises money for the K-9 unit in Marinette, WI. Kelly’s advice is to be just as smart about what your dog has eaten as you are for yourself. She waits 2 hours after breakfast before running Harley. Post-run, they share a snack of peanut butter and bananas.
✓ Time of Day Matters – Your furry friend may find running before the sun comes up or after the sun goes down during hot weather months.
Also, if your pup is about to spend a long day alone while you are at work, a quick jaunt will tire him out and help him miss you less while you are gone.
✓ Safety Gear – If night time running, you need reflective gear, so does your dog. Companies like Noxgear make reflective and light-up gear, especially for your dog!
Photo note: Kato is a seven-year husky who loves running in cool and cold weather. He gets so excited when his harness is put on him; he will “sing” in the back seat during the drive to the Rec trail near his home in Waukesha, WI.
- Do not start a dog running too young. Talk to your veterinarian. Most vets recommend a dog not start running until between 8 months and 18 months old. (The typical rule of thumb is 12 months.) A lot depends on the breed and size of the dog. Talk to your vet before starting an exercise regime.
- Do not skip the warm-up. Just like humans, dogs need to warm up at the beginning of a workout.
- Don’t let your dog pull you. You should leash train your dog to either run just beside you or right in front of you, depending on your preference and what type of leash you prefer.
Things You May Want
Many people prefer a hands free leash system for running with their pooch. These systems are typically used with a harness for the dog, with the leash portion clipping to the top of the harness.
Running harnesses are often semi padded to ensure your dog’s comfort. The leash is fastened to a belt that can be worn around the waist or hips, depending on your preference.
Photo Note: Garbanzo Bean is a 4-year-old Great Dane who carries a Ruffwell Approach Dog Pack by REI. He loves to carry things and “work” for his person Sarah Bryne.
If you plan to run long distances, you will want a collapsible water dish for your dog. On warm days, your dog will need water before you do. Remember the fur coat. You also need a poop plan, so figure out a way to carry doggy-do bags while running your fur baby.
Best Breeds to Run With
If you are actively searching for a best friend who will make an exceptional running buddy, there are some breeds noted for being strong runners. Topping the list are weimaraners and vizslas. Both of these breeds are noted for long runs and are capable of fast running.
If you are partial to small dogs, the terrier also loves to run and can be in it for the long haul.
Not all dogs are good for long-running but will make good company for shorter runs or interval running. Pit-bulls and greyhounds both love to run short distances.
English setters, golden retrievers, and labrador retrievers are notoriously exceptional family dogs and also like to run shorter distances. If you are looking for a lovely animal to jump from workout buddy to family pet, one of these might be a great option.
Photo Note: Omni is a three-year-old Weimaraner who began running when her vet-approved it at twelve months old. Built for the long haul, her furthest run to date is 12 miles! If Mom Christina tries to sneak out without her, Onyx cries and pouts.
Running with a dog is not for everyone, but for many, many runners, having your four-legged friend alongside you for runs helps you to be more consistent and a dedicated runner, plus it is healthy for both of you.