Next time you go out for a run, try taking your pup along! It's a fun and healthy way to get some exercise and take in the fresh air all while spending quality time with your dog. Whether you're new to running or seasoned, bringing your dog out for a run can be an enjoyable experience for both of you. But before you lace up your shoes, there are a few important things to consider to ensure a safe and rewarding adventure.
Always consult your physician and veterinarian before any strenuous and/or high-risk activities. This content is not medical advice and should not replace consultation with a physician or veterinarian.
Benefits of Running With Your Dog
There are so many benefits that come with running alone and there's even more when you bring your pup along for the run. Let's take a look at a few:
Preparing to Go Running With Your Dog
Preparation is everything when it comes to running with your dog. Before you head out though, take some time to get organized. These tips will ensure that both you and your pup have a safe and enjoyable run.
GEAR: First things first, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Pack water bottles, poop bags, treats, a leash, and anything else you might need during your run. And don't forget to keep your dog hydrated with plenty of water before, during, and after your run. Check out our gear list below for a complete list.
WARMUPS: Make sure your dog has had the proper amount of exercise before going on a run. Just like humans, dogs need to warm up their muscles before engaging in intense physical activity. You can warm your dog up by going for a walk or playing some fetch to get their heart rate up and muscles warmed up.
WEATHER: Be sure to consider weather conditions before heading out. Dogs with thick coats may struggle to regulate their body temperature in hot and humid weather, while dogs with short coats may get too cold in lower temperatures. If the weather isn't suitable for running, consider indoor activities and run when the weather is more cooperative.
VET CHECK: Consult with your veterinarian before starting any exercise routine with your dog. They can advise you on your dog's individual needs and any potential health concerns. It's always better to be safe than sorry!
Here's a short gear list of what you'll need on your run. Every dog and human's different so this is not an end all, be all list. Just something to get you started.
Harness and Leash
Water & Food/Snacks
First Aid Gear/Kit
Finding Dog Friendly Running Spots
When it comes to finding a dog-friendly spot for running, the possibilities are endless. If you're lucky enough to live near a park or nature reserve, that's a great place to start. Just make sure to check if dogs are allowed and be aware of any leash laws in the area. This can be done with a simple internet search. There's been a municipality website for pretty much every place I've researched. If you've read my hiking guide, you'd recall that BringFido and AllTrails are great resoruces as well.
One of my favorites were the trails at Sandy Creek in Athens, GA. I was in the military at the time and our dog was back in San Diego with Jennifer, so I never got to experience running with him there, but I did log many miles and saw many happy dogs running and hiking with their humans there. It was so hard to run because I kept stopping to pet all the happy dogs!
Another way to discover new dog-friendly running routes is to join a local running group for dog owners. Not only is this a great way to find new running routes, you'll also meet other like-minded people who enjoy running with their dogs.
If you don't have any specific dog-friendly spots in mind, consider exploring in your own neighborhood. You never know what hidden gems you might come across that are perfect for running with your dog. Just be cautious of busy streets or areas with heavy traffic (taking the above video, I almost tripped going up the curb at the 0:14 mark!). There are tons of canyons in the Southern California area and I've stumbled upon numerous trails right by my house that I would have never known existed if I didn't get out and explore. Although, always be cautious of wildlife.
Safety Tips When Running With Your Dog
As with any physical activity, there are safety measures that should be taken when running with your dog. These include, but are not limited to:
Choose a safe and appropriate route: Avoid busy roads and stick to well-lit paths and trails with good visibility
Keep your dog on a leash at all times. Use a harness instead of a collar to avoid choking and injury to your dog's neck
Watch out for potential hazards and be aware of any obstacles, such as rocks, broken glass, or uneven terrain
Check the temperature and weather conditions and avoid running in extremes
Always have proper identification on your dog in case they get lost during the run
Check for any ticks or other pests after the run, especially if you run in wooded areas
In addition to these safety tips, it's important to also consider your dog's individual needs and abilities. Some breeds may not be suitable for long-distance running. Always listen to your dog's cues and adjust accordingly. It's important to also be aware of your own health and physical abilities when doing physical activity. Make sure you are physically fit enough to handle the distance and pace you plan on covering, as well as any potential challenges that may arise during the run. See disclaimer above!
Training Tips for Running With Your Dog
These commands and skills are extremely important to have down before going on runs, especially in public areas where you'll encounter other people, dogs, and quite possibly wildlife. Remember to always be patient and consistent with training, as it takes time for dogs to learn new commands and behaviors. Learn more about these commands on our essential training commands blog.
-Sit -Wait -Loose Leash Walking
Make sure your pup has these commands down before moving into more complex training
-Heel -Leave It
Especially beneficial if you're running in heavily populated areas
-Other Dogs -People -Sounds
Do in a controlled and positive environment, such as taking them on walks around the neighborhood or to a local park; allow your dog time to explore and sniff his environment while maintaining control
When you're out for a run, don't forget to have treats or rewards on hand to reinforce good behaviors. By consistently reinforcing positive behaviors, you can effectively communicate your expectations and motivate your pup to impress you. And remember, you can incorporate training into your runs as well. This not only adds variety and excitement for your dog but also reinforces that good behavior.
Always have patience when training your dog to run with you. It takes time and practice for both of you to become comfortable running together. Don't get discouraged if your dog doesn't pick up on things right away - stay positive, be consistent, and enjoy the journey together.
Best Practices When Running With Your Dog
Before Beginning a Running Program
Engage your dog in fun, but endurance building activities like park visits or hiking to prepare them for running
Start With Short Distances
Starting with shorter routes and gradually increase distance over time to build their fitness levels at a comfortable pace
Mix It Up
Change up the distances on various runs to test/observe their speed, agility, and mental endurance
Reward Good Behavior
Use praise and treats as positive reinforcement when your dog behaves well on a run
Listen To Your Dog
Observe your dog's cues and adjust accordingly; if they seem tired or uninterested in continuing the run, don't push them further
Don't Skip Out On Breaks
Take breaks as needed and look for any signs of discomfort or injury; remember to take these breaks to prevent pushing yourself or your dog too hard
Monitor Your Dog's Health
Pay attention to your dog's energy level and look for signs of fatigue, such as excessive panting or slowing down; if you see these signs, take a break or end the run early to avoid overexertion
Do Stop And Smell The Flowers