How to run with your dog

Dogs can make brilliant running partners. If you train them right, they will run happily by your side for miles and miles, and still be wagging their tails at the end.

How to run with your dog

Just follow our guidelines to ensure your dog loves his or her runs as much as you do.

Breed suitability

First of all, make sure your dog is a suitable breed for running. Some breeds are just not genetically pre-disposed to loping across the hills with you. A dachshund or pug would be better suited to joining you for gentle walks than haring around the park.

Most medium to large, athletic or lightly built dogs will happily run alongside you at your pace. Breeds such as Dalmatians, huskies, Weimeraners, Vizslas, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Labradors, retrievers, pit bulls and even Jack Russells and lightweight, larger terriers should all enjoy a good run, though characters will vary. Breeds with flatter faces such as bulldogs may have trouble breathing and are not suited to being a running buddy. If your dog is not cut out to be your running partner, why not check out our article 5 ways to make running buddies?

Fitness and age

It’s important not to start too young. Dogs under a year old (and up to a year and a half for larger breeds) have not finished growing and the repetitive action of running on hard surfaces can damage their bones and joints.

Equally, older dogs who are not in the habit of running could well end up with sore joints if they run too much.

If your dog is overweight or unfit, you’ll need to start very slowly. Go for short runs, with walk breaks. If it’s not an enjoyable experience for the dog from the start you’ll end up with a miserable pooch. When you’ve got a dog who sits down mid run and refuses to continue, it’s no fun for anyone! If your dog needs some more encouragement, keep a couple of treats in your pocket to dispense along the way.

Running behaviour

You’ll need to teach your dog to run at your pace. Be the pack leader: don’t let the dog pull you along or dawdle behind. He or she will soon learn that runs are different to walks. Walks are for sniffing interesting things and making friends, runs are for loping along by your side, listening to your instructions.

Lead time

Opt for a short lead rather than an extending one as they can trip people up or get caught around trees and lamp posts. You can even buy yourself a hands free lead that attaches around your waist. Only run without a lead on your dog if you have complete control over your four-legged friend, and as long as you are in a safe, traffic free area. When near any roads, it's better to have the dog on a lead.

Clean up after your dog

Take a good supply of poo bags with you and be sure to clean up after your dog. It’s not that pleasant running with a bag of poo swinging from your hand but it’s better than stepping in dog poo in the dark on the way home!

Shine bright

If you’re running in low light or in the dark, invest in an LED collar so you - and other people - can see where your dog is and don’t trip over him. Also if you ever feel unsafe running alone, having a dog with you can make you feel much safer, especially after dark.

Keep an eye on your dog’s state

Be sure your dog isn’t overheating or getting exhausted - panting excessively and trying to lie down are signs that you’re asking too much. Avoid running in hot weather and be sure to carry water for both of you, or factor in stops where your dog can find water to drink. If you’ve got your dog with you it’s probably not the best time to do sprint work or a 20-miler.

Running with a dog can be very rewarding. Some days it’s great to have quiet canine company by your side, and a well-exercised dog is generally a happy dog. You may well find that your dog’s bouncy enthusiasm when you put your trainers on and grab the lead gives you another great reason to go running.

Check out our guide on what to do if you encounter an aggressive dog while running alone or with your own dog: What to do if a dog attacks you on your run

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