If you’re looking for ways to get your dog more involved with exercising, you might want to look into running together. This is especially true if you’re already an avid runner yourself and are looking to add a running partner to your daily excursions. Or maybe you love the idea of starting a fitness training plan but think the motivation of bringing your pup along will help.
Most dogs love to run, hence their adorable daily zoomies that have the backyard looking like a racetrack. However, not all dogs are ready to go on a long run with their humans.
Before you start bringing your dog on runs, be aware of their limits and understand that not all dogs are distance runners. Here are five helpful tips to help kickstart your dog’s running career and make the process easy and rewarding.
Know Your Dog and Their Limits
Certain dog breeds may be more or less likely to be a runner, and it comes down to their drive, their age, their breed, and their personality. For some dogs, running is not encouraged, whereas other dogs may need it in order to feel fulfilled and content.
Dogs that might really enjoy an energetic run include high-energy breeds like huskies, border collies, and retrievers. Dogs that struggle with the following might not be best suited for long runs, so keep this in mind as you start to prep your dog for runs:
Before planning your early morning runs, consider these points:
- Brachycephalic dogs might have difficulty breathing while running, especially in the heat. Brachycephalic breeds can include bulldogs and pugs.
- Older dogs and young puppies should proceed with caution. Senior dogs may have decreased stamina and loss of hearing/vision and are more susceptible to temperatures. Puppies need to take things slower to protect their growth plates.
- Proceed after consulting with your vet if your dog has: arthritis or hip dysplasia. Have questions? Chat with a veterinary expert here 24/7.
- If you have a smaller dog, especially a Chondrodysplastic breed like dachshunds and basset hounds, proceed with caution. Their short, curved legs are prone to premature disc degeneration and other injuries. Short distances are best.
If your dog fits into any of those categories, consider lower-intensity workouts. Running might only further exacerbate current issues or cause new ones.
Helpful Tips To Start Running With Your Dog
After ruling out potential problems, if your dog is in the clear and motivated to do this activity with you, there are ways for you to make the process easier.
1. Start With Walking
Your dog needs to go on walks daily. It’s a great way for them to log some exercise, get their bodies moving, and burn off energy.
Don’t just jump into running long distances with your dog. Walk the routes you intend to run and follow similar paths so that your dog can become used to them.
That way, when you start running, your dog has built up their stamina through walks. You can start increasing the distance you go every week — slow but steady absolutely wins the race.
Walking isn’t the only basic skill to master — dogs should know how to heel and display polite leash manners. Keeping your dog in a heel might be easier at a walk, but they could be more easily distracted when at a run. Request the assistance of an AskVet Certified Dog Trainer to ensure that your team is ready; plus, get all the help you need along the way.
2. Use Running Gear That Works for Both of You
Invest in running gear that benefits both you and your dog:
- Leash: Keeping your dog on a short leash or even attaching them to a harness that goes around your waist for hands-free running can help to keep them close by to you. In most cases, you don’t want your dog straying from your side; it can be easier to control them if they’re on a short leash. Speaking of leashes, investing in a dog leash with a poop bag container is vital.
- Harness: When it comes to the harness vs. collar debate, harnesses are typically better for dogs since they don’t put added pressure on the trachea.
- Booties: Depending on the terrain, booties can help protect your dog’s paws to make the running experience much more enjoyable, even if they think the boots are awkward at first.
3. Schedule Rest Days
Just like humans, dogs need a few days a week to rest. Even if you don’t run every day, take your dog on gentle walks on their rest days so they can continue to use their body and exercise their muscles. This will help them to build stamina even if it doesn’t seem like it would!
You might notice that in the beginning, your furry friend becomes a bit sore. They might move slower or use more effort to jump up onto the couch after a few days of running. This is typically nothing to worry about, especially because humans experience the same difficulties.
4. Let Your Dog Set the Pace
Your dog will let you know what pace is good for them. They might start off really strong but then decide to slow themselves down midway through the run. This helps them to maintain their stamina and lets them go for longer.
Follow along with your dog’s pace so that you can be mindful of how they feel. Remember, though this run is for you, it’s just as much for your pooch! You don’t want to burn them out or make going on runs seem like a punishment. They should want to run with you and look forward to the activity but on their own terms.
Your dog may surprise you: Greyhounds are known as great running pets, but you might find that your Terrier prefers to go out on a jaunt more than their long-legged canine sibling.
5. Bring Water and Stop for Breaks
Don’t forget to carry with you some water with a collapsible bowl and water bottle for when your dog becomes thirsty. A little bit of water here and there can prevent your dog from becoming dehydrated.
If you see a small puddle of stream, don’t be afraid to let your dog jump in to cool down. This can help to regulate their body temperature; heat stroke can be a concern even on cloudy days.
A note on heat: Excessive panting isn’t the only sign of heat danger to watch out for. Paw pads are very susceptible to heat and rough surfaces. Asphalt can reach up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit on a 75-degree sunny day, which can burn paw pads.
Booties are a must, but it’s better to avoid taking your dog running at all when the weather gets too hot. Instead, venturing out in the early mornings and late evenings is best.
Water breaks are smart for you and your dog, so if you come across a scenic view on your run, allow yourself to stop and take it all in.
Talk With the Experts at AskVet
For more tips and tricks on how to best run with your dog, consider using the AskVet app to find resources on training, emotional wellness, and behavioral problems.
Our Certified Pet CoachesTM (CPC) can help offer guidance on taking your dogs on walks while also answering behavioral questions like “Why does my dog do that” and “How do I stop them from barking at the vacuum cleaner?”
Join now for access to veterinary experts and Certified Pet Trainers. Your pets are members of your family — and the AskVet Family is here to support yours.
Behavior Guide for Your New Puppy | OSU Veterinary Medical Center
Canine Brachycephaly: Anatomy, Pathology, Genetics and Welfare | NCBI
The Dog As An Exercise Science Animal Model: A Review Of Physiological And Hematological Effects Of Exercise Conditions | NCBI
Chondrodystrophy (CDDY and IVDD) and Chondrodysplasia (CDPA) | UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
How to Prevent Dogs and Hot Asphalt Meeting This Summer | The Animal Hospital of Sussex County
How Hot is Too Hot? Heatstroke in Dogs | American Kennel Club