Looking for some advice on how to start running with a dog?
Then you have come to the right place.
Jogging with your dog is a great way to help get both of you in good shape.
Having a running partner can be a key source of motivation. Running with your dog brings enormous benefits to both you and your dog’s physical and mental health..
As well as assisting with weight loss, which is particularly important right now as vets report increasing numbers of overweight pets, running can also do wonders for your dog’s wellbeing. The exciting sights, sounds and smells that they discover on a run, as well as the change of scenery, all help to provide mental enrichment and stimulation, reducing anxiety and alleviating boredom.
I can go on and on about the benefits of running with a dog, but when it comes down to it, not all dogs will enjoy—or be able—to run, and it might not be a good idea to go on a run with your dog.
In this article, I’ll share with you a few tips on how to teach your dog to become a good running partner and the safety measures you need to take to prevent injury and overuse.
The Right Breed
Before taking your dog for a run, ensure they’re suitable for logging the miles.
Here’s the truth. Some dog breeds just aren’t cut out to be running companions.
Breeds like gundogs, Golden retrievers, Huskies, Dalmatians, and Collies are ideal long-distance running partners, but others aren’t so well suited. Not only that, but some breeds were built for distance, whereas others were built for speed.
Even ones that appear capable of running might not be the ideal running partners.
Though Salukis and Greyhounds may seem like the ideal running candidates, they’re better suited for shorter distances since they’re, after all, the sprinters of the dog world.
Dogs who have short noses, or what’s known as Brachycephalic dogs, aren’t built for running and can only sprint short distances before they struggle to breathe. These include:
- French bulldogs
- Shih Tzus
- And any other dogs with “smushed face”.
Dogs that have heavy coats and are better suited for cold weather, like the Siberian Husky, will overheat fast, especially in warmer temperatures.
Running might be too stressful on giant breeds like Great Danes.
For this reason, consider your dog’s breed and temperament, research their breed, and consult a veterinarian to ensure it’s safe for them.
Some of the best dog breeds for running include the following:
- Border collies
- Australian shepherds
- German short-haired pointers
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
Additional resource – How to choose a running partner
I hate to state the obvious but dogs who are too young (or too old) are not suited for running for an extended time.
The high-impact nature of the sport can damage their bodies. Puppies risk permanent damage if they start running too early since their bones and joints are still developing.
As a general rule, puppies should run for long before nine months of age, and that might even be too young for some breeds. Remember that giant breeds grow slower than smaller breeds, so they will need additional time before they’ve grown enough to start running.
To err on the side of caution, consult your veterinarian to determine if your dog is still enough to start turning.
The vet should be able to tell if your dog’s growth plates have closed enough to make it safe for them to start running.
Additional Resource – Here’s how to plan a running route.
When Can You Start Running with Your Dog?
Overall, the answer depends on the age and size of your dog.
Still a puppy? Then you should wait around until their growth plates have completely developed. Logging the miles isn’t safe for pupils, particularly those still growing.
As a rule, wait around 1.5 years for most breeds. In other words, you should wait long enough until your dog is mature before they log the miles with you.
Running might not be advisable for dogs with joint issues.
But if you’re trying to get your dog to lose a few pounds but suffering from joint problems, consult your vet first or get started with something more merciful on their joints and muscles.
Additional resource – What’s the best temperature for running
If you’re serious about getting started with running with your dog, don’t just clip on their lead the next day and take on a long run.
Like humans, dogs need training to build up their endurance and tolerance. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen overnight to you and surely won’t for your dog.
I’d recommend doing an easy mile and then gradually working your dog to longer distances—as long as everything goes well. Your first few sessions shouldn’t involve a lot of running. Then, start slow and up distance and speed over several weeks.
Remember that dogs love to stop and sniff a lot during runs and that you’ll need to pick up after them. This can be tricky if you’re in a hurry, especially if they’re on the lead.
Additional Resource – Why Do I sweat too much while running?
How Far Should you Run With your Dog?
Again, this depends on your dog’s breed and conditioning level.
As a rule, start slow when you’ve never been a run with your pooch before. This way, if you notice your dog lagging, it lets you do run-walk rotations to allow them to catch up.
As conditioning improves, aim to increase the running duration slowly in five minutes increments.
As long as they follow the right training plan, most dogs should be able to run most distance—unless you’re a serious endurance athlete who regularly logs in 20 miles before breakfast.
The key is to build distance and speed slowly over time—just like you’d for yourself.
This means increasing weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent per week. I’d recommend a running program that involves running and walking, like this one. What’s more?
Keep in mind that recovery days are as just as important for us humans as for our canine friends.
Read your Dog
Good communication is key to effective partnerships—jogging with your dog is no exception. That’s why you should keep a keen eye—and ear—on your dog’s behavior.
If they seem uninterested or sluggish, consider slowing down—or scaling back—on your runs, which might either mean slower and easier runs, adding in more recovery days between workouts, or running for less next time.
Remember that your dog may try to keep up with you to please you, even when they actually want to stop.
The main red flags include:
- Heavy rapid breathing
- Refusing to run
- Dark red tongue
- Extremely pulled back lips
- Excessive drooling
These are all signs that you’re pushing your dog more than they can handle. Be careful. The moment you notice any of these signs, slow down or scale back.
Additional Resource – Here’s how to protect yourself from dogs
Use Verbal Cues
The easiest way to regulate and control running pace is through verbal cues.
The more—and clearer—instructions you give your dog, the better they’ll be at responding appropriately. The rest is just details.
By teaching your dog the following obedience commands before setting out, you’ll help avoid any potentially dangerous encounters with other people and dogs.
The must-have commands include:
- Leave it
- Follow me
Use The Right Gear
If you’re going to bring your dog for a run, you’ll need more than just a pair of running shoes.
Although you can definitely put your running shoes on, leash your dog and head out the door, there are a few measures you need to take to run safely with your dog and make it more enjoyable for you both of you.
Here’s what you need.
Although the leash you already use for a walk may work well for running, there are running leashes that are more durable during strenuous activity.
Though running without the leash may seem too free, I’d advise against it.
If you’re running in crowded areas, you should have your dog under your control.
And this is the case even if your dog normally behaves well at home.
I’d recommend a waist-attached leash, preferably one made of nylon. It’s less annoying and more secure than a handheld model. Avoid using a retractable leash as it can cause injury.
A properly fitting harness can be a fantastic option for any dog, but it works well if your dog pulls a lot or has a sensitive or thin neck.
Though a collar might work, a harness is a better choice as it grans more control over your pup and keeps your dog safer.
Check your dog’s harness:
When running with your doggy, it’s really important to use a secure, safe harness that fits your dog perfectly.
Make sure you try it on your dog ahead of your run to check that it fits comfortably and won’t rub. They’ll need to be able to run without the harness moving and becoming uncomfortable when out on their adventure!
Using a collar while running is a bad idea as it puts undue pressure on the dog’s trachea, which can result in breathing and other health problems.
Instead, use a harness that adjusts in more than a few place to ensure your dog stay comfortable and secure on the run.
Next, get your dog used to wearing it, especially if they’re not used to wearing one around the house.
It goes without saying but picking up your waste is a cardinal rule so take plenty of poop bags.
Unlike humans, dogs don’t cool off by sweating. Instead, they do it via their respiratory system, primarily by panting. For this reason, dogs can dehydrate fast when performing strenuous exercises such as running.
Take a water bottle and bowl: Running is hard work, so it’s important to make sure you have water for your pooch, so you can stop for a drink when they need one.What’s more?
Your pup can’t ask for water, so it’s on you to ensure they stay well hydrated while running. Because of this, it’s key to carry a water bottle, preferably a collapsible bowl, with you while running.
Symptoms of dehydration to pay attention to in dogs include excessive panting, dry nose, and a sudden slowing of pace.
Remember to carry water and a water bowl for your dogs during runs lasting more than 20 minutes.
Additional Resource – Here’s how to start running two miles a day.
There you have it! If you’re looking to start running with your dog, then today’s post should get you started on the right foot. The rest is just details.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
Thank you for dropping by.