10 Tips for Running with Your Dog

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/19/2013 6:00 AM   :  80 comments   :  149,029 Views

See More: fitness, running, pets,
As a runner it's nice to have a partner to run with, regardless if that partner runs on two legs or four legs. A dog can make a great running partner, not only can they help keep us motivated to run, but they can also provide us with a sense of security and companionship especially for those of us who must run in remote areas.

But before you get too eager to put a leash on your four-legged friend, there are a few tips to consider prior to taking your first step out the door with your running buddy.

1. Get medical clearance from your dog's vet

Just like we need to get medical clearance for exercise, same is true for our pets. This is especially necessary if your pet has led a fairly sedentary lifestyle. While your dog may spend hours running around the backyard, it is not quite the same as running five, three or even one mile. 

2. Know which breeds are best for running

Knowing which breeds are best suited for running can help determine if Fido is going to make a great running partner or best left hanging out in the backyard. There are certain breeds where running may actually be detrimental to your dog's well-being. Some breeds, such as the Border Collie are more prone to hip dysplasia issues which can be aggravated from running while other breeds, such as the Pug and Bulldog are more prone to respiratory and overheating issues. Runner's World has compiled a list of dog breeds and the distance each breed can safely run. But remember your dog's vet is the best source of advice as to whether your best friend can run or not.

3. Consider the age of your dog

Having a puppy full of energy may seem like the ideal time to train her to run with you, but remember your puppy is still growing. Her bones are still developing. This does not mean she can't ever run with you, but please check with your vet as to the distance and intensity of runs that would be most suitable for your growing puppy.

Older dogs can run, depending on the breed and disposition of your dog, just make sure that you have discussed your concerns with your vet before taking Fluffy out for her first run.

4. Make sure your dog is on a leash

In my six years as a runner one of the most intimidating experiences is to come across a dog that is not leashed. While you as his owner may be quite comfortable with voice command in controlling your dog, I, as a runner, have no clue how well controlled your dog is. A few years ago I had a Jack Russell Terrier come running at me nipping at my lower leg, thankfully the dog's owner could grab him before any damage was done. My most recent scare came just a few days ago when a German Shepherd who was trained to attack came barreling at me (the owner's description, not mine)--to hear the fear in the owner's voice literally had me stop dead in my tracks until the owner gained control over his dog.

5. Consider the running surface

We are fortunate to be able to put on a pair of running shoes and head out the door. We don't have to worry too much about the road temperature or debris, but for your dog this is a big factor.  Concrete and debris on the road are big hazards for your dog, especially in the heat of summer when the running surface is very hot.

If your dog starts to limp, you will want to stop immediately to check his paws for any foreign body that may have embedded in your dog's paw. Also, if you are running in winter where snow and ice are commonplace, after your run be sure to wash your pet's paws as salt and other chemicals used on the roads can be very toxic to dogs, especially if they are prone to licking.

6. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of overheating

Dogs do not sweat like we do. They dissipate the heat via panting and through their paws so make sure you bring plenty of water for him or at least have access to water. My local running trail actually offers pet water stations which allows owner and pet to rehydrate at the same time. Also you may want to change your running surface from a hot road to a cooler trail when temps heat up.

If you find you dog is excessively panting, slowing down and not acting like he normally does, you need to cool him off as soon as possible. Just like heat stroke can be fatal to humans, hyperthermia can be fatal to your beloved pet. Many dog experts state that if the ambient air temperature is 80 degrees or warmer, or if there is excessive humidity, it is best to leave your dog at home. The risk at this point for heat stroke far exceeds the benefit for exercise.

Here is a link to helping keep your pet cool during the hot summer months.

7. Ease your dog into running

Just like many of us did not go from the couch to running 3 miles straight, same is true for your trusty companion. Running is very taxing on the human body and same is true for your dog. While it may seem natural for your dog to want to run with you, after all they love to please us, you must be aware that it takes time to build up the stamina to run the distances you are accustomed to running. So you may want to start with some walks to allow time for your dog to adapt to the routine of going out with you.

8. Know your dog's temperament

If your dog has been exposed to other people and other dogs, most dogs will do fine in a running environment. However if your dog has not been socialized, you may want to rethink where and when you will run with him. Remember not everyone is eager to come across a dog even on a leash especially if the breed has a history of being intimidating. While you may know that your German Shepherd or Pit Bull is a sweetheart, I as a runner have no clue.

Having a dog who is quite territorial with his environment and even you as an owner, may be more frustrating to you as a runner as you may find yourself keeping your dog in line versus running.

If your dog has never been socialized, you may want to consider taking her to obedient classes which many local pet stores and shelters offer for a nominal fee. If you are unable to locate a class, check with your vet, he/she may be able to help you locate a class.

9. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on his vaccination

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was running when a stray dog came out of nowhere and bit her on the leg. While this dog was not running with his owner, because the dog was not wearing a collar nor were his vaccinations current, she had to endure a long 10 day wait to see if the dog showed signs of rabies. Should you be running with your dog and he finds himself in an altercation with another dog or another runner, having verification of his vaccinations can bring peace of mind to all parties involved.

10.  Be courteous and clean up after your pet

Having participated in races where dogs were permitted, nothing is more aggravating to me as a runner than to be running along and stepping in a mess that I have to clean off my running shoes before getting into my car to go home. While it may seem like an inconvenience to carry a bag or two with you to pick up your pet's mess, it really is the courteous thing to do. Also know that many municipalities are now fining dog owners for not picking up after their pet. Taking a few seconds to keep our environment clean makes running enjoyable for everyone.

These are just a few tips that may help determine if your pet is ready to hit the running trail with you. However, I want to stress that you need to get clearance from your dog's vet to see if he/she is healthy enough to run. Studies are showing that pet obesity is on the rise, so just like we need time to ease into exercise, we do not want to rush the process in taking Buddy from the couch to running without the proper guidance and time frame to do so.

Do you run/walk with your dog? What are some measures you take to keep him/her safe?
 


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Comments

  • 80
    My dog knows and follows all necessary off-leash commands perfectly but I still put his leash on when I see people coming just for their comfort. Our largest problem comes from dogs without fences (invisible or real) that do not respect their property border and come running after us. I've walked many strange dogs home using my dog's leash. One time my dog was bitten, though. Let's worry less about dogs walking with their owner under total verbal control and more about controlling the wild ones in our own front yard. - 10/28/2014   4:33:10 PM
  • 79
    I just started taking my dogs for walks about a month ago (I've got a large yard so I've never really *needed* to take them for walks), and I've created a monster! In a good way, but...

    Both dogs get excited when I pick up their leashes, but the little one, an 8 year old chihuahua, goes NUTZ as soon as he realizes we're going for a walk. Once they're leashed and we're out and about, they're both fine, but, man! The little guy gets so excited that I'm afraid he's gonna blow a gasket! ;-)

    I'm also very careful about temperature - I figure that if I'm hot, they're hotter, since they're wearing fur coats and all. Sometimes that means waiting till evening for full-night before I take them out,but they don't care. They're just happy to be out and about, and their excitement makes me want to keep doing it. - 7/10/2014   4:17:22 PM
  • 78
    I have a 12 year old Australian Cattle Dog and she loves running, but definitely NOT when it is hot. When she was a puppy, I went out of my way to call her over to me and then poke and prod at her. This is really helpful for when she get's thorns in her paws. I also supplement her the same way I supplement myself so when we run we both take fish oil and glucosamine. It makes a huge difference. If it's been rigorous and I have to rub my legs out, I also give her a puppy massage which of course she grunts and moans through and you should see the love her eyes! Because we are running offroad for the most part, I got her vaccinated for rattlesnake bites. The last safety precaution is pepper spray. I couldn't get myself into carrying if for my own protection but after my dog was attacked twice by other dogs I started carrying it so I could break up an altercation if it got really serious. - 4/16/2014   10:52:39 PM
  • 77
    Great article. I take my dog (German Pin mutt) on walks, often off the leash. He had a great trainer who trained him to walk next to me and he does so dutifully, but he immediately gets leashed when I see other people so that they don't get nervous. He never poops on our walks, though I usually have him walking too fast to do anything.

    That said, I live in an area with very few cars, people or animals to contend with. I also keep a close eye on my dog when I do walk to keep track of any changes. He has never left my side. My other dog-walking neighbors do the same. It is quite comforting. - 4/13/2014   10:39:59 PM
  • 76
    Before and during walks with my dogs in the summer, I always lay the palm of my hand flat on the sidewalk or pavement. If it's uncomfortably hot to my hand, my dogs don't go. - 6/16/2013   3:04:55 PM
  • 75
    I have cats. They don't care much about running. - 5/29/2013   12:44:11 AM
  • 74
    I walk with my dog. I take water & a poop bag with me. - 5/24/2013   9:00:23 PM
  • MACBOOK23
    73
    i have a 2 year old german shepherd, is it too far to run five miles with her six days a week? will it cause her to have hip problems? - 5/15/2013   11:56:42 PM
  • 72
    Another reposted article from 2/8/2012 - 4/26/2013   12:42:15 PM
  • 71
    ... But, for those of you who go "leashless" please consider this: You may have the friendliest, most congenial dog in the world, but dogs like mine exist. Mine does not do well with dogs he does not know. If your dog approaches mine, there will be a fight, and someone will be hurt. Since mine is always well controlled on a leash, it will be your fault. Sorry ... When I see a dog without a leash, I go the other direction. Also, what is the point? If you are out to be with your dog, why not be with him? - 4/26/2013   8:52:41 AM
  • 70
    Yes, great article. See above it's linked by the American Animal Hospital Association. I got to it through a couple runner sites after Googling. Imagine my surprise to see that the expertise was incapsulated in a SparkPeople article . . not !! The last runners' site before reaching this was an article that identified which dog breeds were best for different running conditions; 10K and longer, hot weather running, etc. Now I have no worries for my fit 12.5 month old Labrador Retriever; her vet approves and I'm working to get back to jogging 5K's. (Of course, I'll limit her participation in summer heat.) Generally, if I can get conditioned to the point that my 10K effort on a 60 - 75 degree day (F) is too much for her, it will be a credit to both of us. This article warns us exercise enthusiasts to check with the vet about the dog's health for running/jogging three times! Kudos author. (I'm an old, happily married guy, but if you're single I want to introduce you to some of my family.) I'm aiming at my first easy 10K in early November, 2014; doing CouchTo5K now with a big group. My pup does one or two weekend jogs with me totalling a little over a mile now, but more to come. - 4/26/2013   7:23:33 AM
  • 69
    My husband and I walk with our dog, everyday. We go to the trails in the bush, and we let her run free. She wears a bell, and we know where she is, then. If we think she's been gone a bit too long, we can go in a get her. Emmy loves to be outside, and so do we, so it is a perfect relationship. Thanks for the tips.
    - 4/25/2013   8:07:21 PM
  • BANNERMAN
    68
    Thanks for sharing - 4/25/2013   2:02:41 AM
  • 67
    I ran with my rottweiler when I was training for a marathon. As my long runs got longer, she kept up great. Her longest run was an 18 miler and she did awesome (plus she slept really well afterwards!). Most of our running was during the colder months. As it got warmer, her endurance dropped. If it was over 60, I would only take her for a couple miles. - 4/24/2013   5:13:51 AM
  • 66
    I have a half Australian Shepherd, half full-sized Poodle mix who has trained for and run every distance race with me from the mile to the marathon, duathlons and on roads and trails. If I ever get another dog it will be a running breed, can't beat 'em. - 4/24/2013   12:35:04 AM
  • 65
    The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) just linked to this article on their Facebook page. Lots of good information! - 4/23/2013   9:07:44 PM
  • KRUMYRUNS
    64
    I run with my 4 year old Golden Retriever Cooper. Cooper has trained for several half marathons with me - he's always willing to go for a run, take a dip in a creek/stream and motivates me to run with joy like he does. Whenever we plan long runs, we drive the route and put out water/fuel for humans and the dogs. - 4/23/2013   3:50:36 PM
  • 63
    My dog Mack is a Jack Russell terrier mixed with something (got him at a shelter, so I don't really know what!) and we've been walking several times a day since I got him. We have wooded trails nearby which he loves, even in winter. If he does get tired he lets me know and I pick him up. He's only 12 pounds but feisty and loves to go after squirrels, so he is NEVER off leash - he will chase a squirrel and pay no attention to anything else, like cars, when chasing. But he does love his walks, and I probably wouldn't go without him! - 4/23/2013   1:42:02 PM
  • CHRISTINASP
    62
    Very good points. I hope dog owners read it and take it to heart.
    I like the idea of the leash. A lot. This week I got into trouble TWICE with the same runner who was just running along with plugs in her ears, listening to music, while her dog attacked mine and she did not even notice it. - 4/23/2013   12:00:55 PM
  • 61
    I have just started bringing my 7 month old Golden Retriever for runs / hikes near our house. I find he is a great partner and have endless amounts of energy. Great article!! - 4/23/2013   9:48:54 AM
  • 60
    My german sheppard mix Blue is a great running partner - helps me keep pace and push further - he's never ready to stop. - 4/23/2013   9:24:36 AM
  • 59
    Sophie and I are a perfect match: long slow distance! (she's a standard poodle, I'm merely an honorary poodle.) - 4/23/2013   9:18:56 AM
  • 58
    I love these dog blogs. For the two comments I read with Aussies, I also have one. He's my baby boy -- just one year old -- and LAZY when he isn't herding my sweet little shih tzu gang of two. I walk with him a couple of miles daily, much to his chagrin, and I thought -- reading about the breed -- that I would have a running buddy, but he is much more interested in watching Caesar on TV. I love the comment by the girl whose Aussie gets her socks. My baby has been kicked out of obedience school twice. (He loves people and our little tzu gang but not strange dogs) He stays on a leash!!! - 4/23/2013   8:22:33 AM
  • 57
    I walk with both of my dogs several days a week, usually late in the evening on a trail by the Columbia River. The dogs are on leashes and the main things we have to watch for are skunks and porcupines! - 4/22/2013   12:26:57 PM
  • ANDY_54
    56
    I ran with my girl Maggie this morning, almost 4 miles. She's a White German Shepherd and I have to agree with you on the fact that people do feel a bit intimidated (she's fairly large). She's always on a leash and always by my side. The issue I have is other people who don't have their dogs controlled, i.e. like the small terrier who bolted off its patio and into my dog's face--while the owner (I presume) just watched. But generally our runs are hassle-free and it gets her out and exercised (me, too!). - 4/21/2013   6:17:36 PM
  • MARYJEANSL
    55
    Please don't recycle blogs! I have read them all already. Can't we have something new? - 4/21/2013   9:23:30 AM
  • 54
    My two little Shih Tzu's love to walk, and love it when I run. Since I am 63 and overweight and not very fast, I increase to a jog and they just walk a little bit faster on their short legs. They don't even have to break into a run! They can do 2.5 miles, as long as we don't go that far two days in a row. They can't take the heat though. - 4/21/2013   7:55:48 AM
  • 53
    Cyrus likes to take Babe out for a run sometimes because it's easier than walking her. When we walk her, she tends to pull like a maniac, as I'm sure you've heard me relate before, but she keeps pace very nicely if you run.

    Cy is not a long-distance runner, and neither of them seems to be any worse for it when they get home, so I don't think there is any harm done, but I'll discuss it with the vet next time we're out there. Thanks!
    - 4/20/2013   10:05:50 PM
  • 52
    I haven't gotten into running, but I have attempted to and have brought my dog along on those attempts. He's a half Jack Russell/half Italian greyhound, so he's a runner.

    I have a walking bag that attaches to his leash that is great for holding bags, both new and used. It also has extra pockets to hold treats, and it was only $5 or so. I think all dog owners should have one because it makes clean up much easier and more convenient than just a jacket pocket. - 4/20/2013   6:54:16 PM
  • AMASCHING
    51
    I walk my dog, he would run as far and as fast as I would want to go, but he's a dachshund and would overtire on a long run. When we come home from our walk, we run from 2 houses down to our front door, and its enough for him. - 4/20/2013   6:04:04 PM
  • 50
    I have a Daschund, We do short sprints ! - 4/20/2013   3:05:53 PM
  • 49
    I have never been able to run due to weak ankles, but I just got a new cattle dog in January and we are walking together when we can. I like the blog and information that it has in it. - 4/20/2013   2:19:11 PM
  • 48
    I am an obese old lady and it's hard for me to run, but I do trot off and on when I walk my little tiny dogs. They love it and we move together pretty well. Walk a little, trot a little!!! When I started at SparkPeople I thought I'd be thin enough in a year or so to run again without hurting myself, but I was wrong. I do enjoy a little trotting though :) - 4/20/2013   9:26:46 AM
  • 47
    I have a manchurian chihuahua, she is only 3.9 #s, I was at 250#s when I started walking with her, I could maybe make it a block or two.. 11 months later I'm 162#s and Isabella Rosa and I jog about 4 to 5 miles (she can go about 8 blocks and then I pick her up) .. I carry her a lot because she is so tiny. I just purchased a puppy backpack for her so now she can go running with me and when she gets tired I can put her in that instead of carrying her...it has a portable water bowl i can use.. She really gets upset when I leave her home since I'm gone all day at work, so I'm glad I found the backpack a great compromise and she is happier going out with me.. - 4/20/2013   8:08:52 AM
  • JANETEMILY
    46
    I have a Black Lab/Shepherd mix that I rescued last August partly to have a walking buddy, and she's the best! The shelter THINKS she is about 3-1/2, and she is a dream walking on leash--except she does like to stop and smell! She and I have been out almost every day for the past 8 months-she loves walks so much, I can't tell her we're staying home unless it's pouring! We don't run much, usually walk and jog., She is the most calm dog ever, and ignores most other dogs we run into, but last fall, she was attacked by a German Shepherd while we were walking by. The owner was there, but the dog paid no attention to her commands. My dog's skin was not broken, but she was limping for over a week, so I am very wary of unleashed dogs--even if the owner is with them. - 4/19/2013   10:20:05 PM
  • 45
    Thank you for #4 and #10 . . . two of my big pet peeves with people that run with their dogs. Please be respectful of others! - 4/19/2013   3:53:21 PM
  • AJSTETZER
    44
    Pay attentiont to the pads of your dogs paws. Surfaces can be too cold, too hot, too abrasive, etc. We wear shoes to protect our feet. Their paws, toes, and tonails need care as well. - 4/19/2013   3:03:39 PM
  • 43
    Our one dog will seriously walk with me at my pace, not stopping to sniff and squat, but I can't take the other one, too, because it's more like a walk, stop, sniff, squat, repeat, if my goal is to do a serious walk. If we're going on a stroll, then I take them both so they both get some exercise. - 4/19/2013   1:28:39 PM
  • 42
    My friend tried this with her dog. The problem was her dog wanted to stop and check out markings. So they would be happily running along, then suddenly the dog would come to a complete halt, jerking her onto her backside. She decided that Fido could run at the Dog Park and she would take her runs alone. - 4/19/2013   11:43:26 AM
  • 41
    I love walking and running with my dogs. I have a Bluetick Coonhound who will run for short spurts with me but overall she really isn't a runner. Now, my Mountain Cur would go all day if I let him. We use our prong collars since my dogs are pullers given the opportunity. When it gets warm we go really early in the morning. We usually do this 5 to 6 times a week. Well... when we aren't currently drowning in water. - 4/19/2013   11:21:21 AM
  • EKIPATIR
    40
    I have been running with my Golden Retriever/Yellow Lab mix since she was a puppy (concurrently with doing a Couch to 5k program). I told my vet my intentions, and she approved, with the caveat that I stop running as soon as she begins to lag behind, so that I didn't strain her joints. It worked out great for me and Kerri (my dog). She to this day will pull on her leash, even with a gentle leader (which still does enough to save our shoulders from injury- which was why we got one in the first place). However, when I go for runs that can be as long as 7 km now, she settles down into a trot right away. Because she is so big (she is of the big and leggy variety of Lab) she can pant the whole time I'm running, because its just not a fast pace for her, though she still gets a work out -she LOVES running with me! The only thing I have to watch out for is in fall, since she loves to bite at leaves as they blow by. Also, she wears a mini dog backpack, and carries her own baggies of droppings till the next garbage-can, since I can't stand to carry it running. (Don't worry, nothing else goes in there!) - 4/19/2013   10:55:18 AM
  • 39
    The leash is absolutely imperative! I run with my dog all the time, and we come across other dogs, usually on leashes, but often not as well trained or controlled as my dog. He gets anxious around other dogs, and when we're waiting at a stop light and the other dog owner isn't keeping his or her dog away from mine, I worry that my dog might growl or nip out of fear. Just because your dog is friendly and wants to play doesn't mean mine wants to meet him! - 4/19/2013   10:18:22 AM
  • 38
    My Muddy (a big rotty/hound/shepherd mix) use to love going to jogs with me. Now that he is 12 we go for short walks around the block before I go on my jogs because he loves his walks but can't go very far anymore. - 4/19/2013   9:56:28 AM
  • SNOWEATER
    37
    My poor puppy is getting old but he loves his walks so I run and do my cool down walk with him. - 4/19/2013   9:35:20 AM
  • 36
    My dog is the only running partner I have! She's a mix of german/australian shepherd and blue heeler, AWESOME running partner! We've been doing it for a little over a year now and definitely started off slow, but we are progressing nicely :D - 4/19/2013   9:21:09 AM
  • KMR100878
    35
    My golden retriever and I just started running together, we're doing a couch 2 5k so we're starting off slowly. glad to read these tips, I'll be extra careful with him when the weather starts getting warmer! - 4/19/2013   8:29:48 AM
  • VOGELC1
    34
    I love to run and have had trouble training my dogs not to pull on the leash. On the recomendation of a dog trainer I purchsed a Gentle Leader collar to use in training my 8 month old Austailian Shepherd.. What a diffreence this has made! Now running with my dog is actually fun. I wish I would have know about this sooner. - 4/3/2013   8:37:21 AM
  • 33
    I take my boy for walks which we both enjoy very much!

    I'd love to run with him, but Shih Tzu's don't have a whole lot of running stamina, and those little legs can only go so fast! :) - 6/19/2012   1:57:43 PM
  • FIT4U_PT
    32
    Everybody PLEASE be careful running with your dog. I lost my Lab 4 years ago to heat stroke.
    It was a cool spring evening with ambient air temperature around 60 degrees. He was 4 and used to running with me all the time. It was an unexpected and extremely sad situation. He was the best running partner anybody could ask for. So, from personal experience, take extreme care and caution when running with your pet. Read and understand the sings and symptoms of overheating in dogs, they are subtle and often overlooked. Make sure the are well hydrated, if they show the least little signs of anything unusual get them out of the heat and cooled down.
    - 2/28/2012   12:30:11 AM
  • MMCARTHUR6
    31
    I do my walking with a Golden Retriever/Yellow Lab who is 2 years old. Both of us need to walk. Buddy is in decent shape, not overweight, but he doesn not have any endurance. He is ready to quit about the same time as me. I want to walk more than 10 minutes a day. - 2/19/2012   9:53:55 PM

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