How To Run With Your Dog

By on May 27, 2013

How To Run With Your Dog

Dogs aren't just great for cuddling - they also make excellent running companions.

If you love pounding the pavement, but need a little extra motivation, Fido's boundless energy might be the secret to cranking up the intensity of your workout.

Plus, since your dog probably isn't out in the backyard doing laps on his own, outdoor runs ensure that your pooch gets the daily exercise he needs to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of behavioral problems, like excessive barking or biting.

For safe, injury-free runs with your dog, follow these guidelines before hitting the road.

Wait until your dog is full-grown.

Running is not a good idea for puppies since their bones and joints are still developing, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The rapid movement can place extra stress on their still-growing bodies. You can make sure your pup stays active through less intense physical exercise like fetch, walking, or swimming.

Visit the vet.

Take your dog for a medical check-up before starting a regular running routine. This will help to identify any heart, lung, or joint issues that you may be unaware of.

Know your dog.

Not all dog breeds are created equal. Breeds with short or flat noses, such as pugs or bulldogs, can have trouble breathing and make poor long-distance running partners. They also tend to overheat. Other breeds are built for sprinting, such as golden and labrador retrievers, greyhounds, and huskies. The size, age, and fitness level of your dog also matters. Large dogs, for example, are more prone to leg injuries. Overweight or sedentary dogs need to build up their stamina before running long distances.

Get the right gear.

Always make sure you are walking your dog, and not the other way around. That means Sparky should either be running on your right or left side - not dragging you down the street. Your dog should be kept on a leash the entire time, which will prevent him from roaming off, wandering into traffic, or potentially getting into confrontations with other dogs. Shelly Brouwer, a Supervisor of Animal Training and Behavior for the Humane Society in Boulder, Colorado, recommends a no-pull harness, especially for dogs with a lot of energy.

Start slow.

Most of us aren't born running marathons. Your dog is the same way. It's important to slowly to build up your canine's strength and endurance before taking him on longer, more challenging runs. The first run should be short with frequent stops if necessary. During this time, you should be training your dog to run beside you and avoid being distracted by various smells or small animals.


Dogs may be happy to sip from ponds or puddles of dirty water in the park, but that's not always safe. Make sure your four-legged athlete stays hydrated by either carrying extra water bottles, or packing a small water bowl that can be filled with fresh, clean water. If you're wondering how often to stop for a drink, chances are if you're thirsty, your dog is parched too.


Don't forget to keep tabs on your dog, checking in to make sure he isn't overheating, thirsty, or tired. A dog can't speak up to tell you when he's exhausted, but he will respond in other ways, like slowing down or panting. Pay attention to these warning signs, and never place your own fitness goals ahead of your dog's health.

Dina Spector
Dina Spector
Contributing Writer at
Dina Spector is a writer based in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @DinaSpector.
Dina Spector

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