Can I Enter Races with My Dog?

If you're looking for another good reason to try running, look to your dog. Running together can be a great way to make sure your beloved family dog gets or stays in shape right along with you. Many dogs are happy to run alongside their owners for short distances (up to 5K), while some breeds are perfect for longer runs. There are even special leashes and harnesses that make running with your dog a little easier.
To give yourself a deadline and a challenge to face together, train for a dog-friendly race with your furry exercise buddy. To get into 5K shape, check out SparkPeople's 5K Your Way Training Program or the dog-specific Pooch to 5K program, which is spread over a longer amount of time to make sure you don't push your dog too hard. (Regardless of the training you choose, check with your vet first to make sure your pet is healthy enough for strenuous activity.)

Dog-Friendly Races
Most running events don't allow dogs, so before you sign up for a race, make sure that it explicitly states that canines are welcome to join. There are, however, numerous dog-specific races around the country, and for most of them, you can choose whether you want to run or walk the course with your pet. You could even plan a vacation with the whole family (and Fido, too) if there are no doggie runs near you.
Here are 15 dog-friendly races to consider:

Western US

Race for the Rescues
Month: October and November
Location: Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, CA, and Orange County Great Park in Irvine, CA
Distance: 1K, 5K and 10K

Rocky Dog Trail Run
Month: June
Location: Golden Peak in Vail, CO
Distance: 1 mile or 5K

Oregon Humane Society Doggy Dash
Month: May
Location: Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, OR
Distance: 1.5 or 2.5 miles

Furry 5K
Month: June
Location: Seward Park in Seattle, WA
Distance: 5K

Eastern US

Pineland Trail Running 5K Canicross
Month: May
Location: Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, ME
Distance: 5K

CapeK9Cardio K-9 5K
Month: June
Location: Beebe Woods in Falmouth, MA
Distance: 5K

West Virginia
Dirty Dog 15K Trail Run
Month: May
Location: Kanawha State Forest in Charleston, WV
Distance: 15K

Central Vermont Runners Mutt Strutt
Month: May
Location: Little River State Park in Waterbury, VT
Distance: 3 miles

Southern US

Atlanta Dog Jog
Month: May
Location: Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA
Distance: 1 or 2 miles

Hot Lips Hustle

Month: September
Location: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Marietta, GA
Distance: 5K

New Mexico
Doggie Dash & Dawdle
Month: November
Location: Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, NM
Distance: 2 mile or 5K

Midwestern US

5K-9 Run for the Rescues
Month: September
Location: Hopkins Park in DeKalb, IL
Distance: 5K

Run, Waddle, Wag
Month: October
Location: Main Street in Ulysses, KS
Distance: 1 mile or 5K

Pet Promise Rescue Run
Month: May
Location: Arena District in Columbus, OH
Distance: 5K

Dog Day 5K
Month: June
Location: Lola's Lakehouse in Waconia, MN
Distance: 5K

General Racing Rules
Every race will have its own set of rules, but here are the most common you're likely to find:
  • No retractable leashes. These leads don't allow you to control your dog well enough for a crowded situation like a race.
  • No leashes longer than 6 feet. You'll need to keep your pet as close to you as possible to avoid potential conflicts with other dogs.
  • No unfixed animals. Unneutered males and unspayed females are generally not welcome at most public dog events.
  • No aggressive dogs. If your dog doesn't do well with other animals or people, you shouldn't bring him to a public race.
  • All dogs must be current on vaccinations. You should always make sure your pet is current on shots just in case, but it is especially important if he's going to be spending time with other dogs.
  • All dogs must be on leash and might require that your dog be accompanied by an adult.
You should also plan on cleaning up after your dog. (Don't forget your plastic bags!) Most dog-friendly events should provide water for the animals, but bring your own just in case—especially in hot seasons or climates.
Know of a dog-friendly race in your area? Please share it in the comments!