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Running with your dog can be enjoyable and beneficial for you and your canine companion. Not only does it provide an opportunity for bonding, but it also ensures that both you and your furry friend stay in optimal physical condition.

Canine fitness is crucial in maintaining overall health, and for you, having a running companion can make the experience more enjoyable and motivating. Before embarking on this fitness journey together, it’s essential to understand the dos and don’ts of running with a dog. By following the appropriate guidelines and keeping a watchful eye on your dog’s well-being, this can become a regular, rewarding component of your fitness routine.

Silhouettes of runner and dog on field under golden sunset sky in evening time.
Photo credit: Andrey Yurlov/Shutterstock.

Remember, safety first! Always consult your veteranarian to prevent injury or discomfort. Start with shorter distances and increase the running distance gradually as your dog’s fitness level improves. Monitor your dog during and after each run for signs of exhaustion, excessive panting, limping, or any other indications of distress.

A woman running on a forest trail with her dog.

The Benefits of Running with Dogs

Running with your dog offers numerous advantages for both you and your pet. It can be an enjoyable experience that provides the opportunity for bonding and improving overall fitness. One of the key benefits of running with your dog is the motivation they offer to keep you active and consistent in your exercise routine. As a result, you both will stay healthy and experience improved physical health.

Another significant advantage is that running together could help alleviate anxiety and stress in your dog. Regular physical activity can contribute to a positive mood and even slow cognitive decline in the long run, benefiting your dog’s mental health.

Dogs need exercise. For any dog owner, that’s common knowledge. Our dogs get anxious, antsy, misbehave, and even tear the house apart without exercise and stimulation. A poorly exercised dog becomes a lot less cute, really fast.

Not only does running with your dog have physical and mental health benefits, but it also enhances your relationship with your pet. Dogs are known to improve your quality of life with their companionship, unconditional love, and emotional support, and running together strengthens the bond between you two. Making time for these shared experiences can result in happier, healthier lives for you and your dog.

Woman running outdoor in the spring with her Bernese Mountain dog.
Photo credit: Fotokostic/Shutterstock.

Preparation before the Run

Before you strap your sneakers on and zoom out the door together, there are a few things you’ll want to do to make sure you and your pup have the best running experience possible.

There’s no such thing as being overprepared! As long as you consider these tips for running with your dog, and your dog is at least a year old, you’re well on your way to being the cutest pair of athletes in the neighborhood.

Not All Dogs are Suited as a Running Partner

While most dogs are born athletes, some dog breeds might not be suited for your marathon training – or anything more than a short, slow jog.

Dogs that struggle to breathe (brachycephalic dogs), like bulldogs or pugs, aren’t the best choice and will be gasping on the side of the road. On the flip side, active breeds such as dalmatians, border collies, and sports dogs like Brittany spaniels (like my Beau) thrive with a lot of activity and make the best running partners.

The length of the run is something to consider as well. Short sprints are a great fit for some breeds, whereas a long slow jog would wear them to the bone.

Do a little research and talk to your vet to see the best way to run with your dog, and keep that in mind when putting your training plan together. Remember, we aren’t all runners, and not all dogs are.

Running with a Puppy

You may be a new puppy parent and keen to get them running with you, but you will need to wait. Running long distances with a puppy is not recommended because their bones are still growing, and the repetitive and high impact can harm their growth plates. The general rule of thumb is to wait until your dog is mature and fully grown before they start running with you.

Health Assessment

Before embarking on a run with your dog, ensuring your pet is in good physical condition is vital. Regular veterinary check-ups, as well as being up-to-date with vaccinations, are essential. Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or injury your dog may display, and consult your veterinarian if necessary.

Dogs with arthritis, seniors, dogs with hip dysplasia, and obese dogs should only be running if approved by a vet.

Dog and its owner taking part in a popular canicross race.
Photo credit: Raquel Pedrosa/Shutterstock.

Proper Gear

When running with your dog, choosing the right gear, such as a secure harness and leash, is essential. Opting for reflective equipment is also crucial in low light conditions, ensuring your dog’s visibility and safety during exercise sessions. Remember to carry water and a dog bowl to ensure your pet can stay hydrated.

To ensure a successful and safe running experience, invest in appropriate gear for you and your pet. Some of the best gear for running with your dog to consider are:

  • Poop bags
  • Hands-free leash
  • Harness
  • Reflector
  • Collapsible bowl
  • Water bottle
  • Running belt or running vest
  • Running shoes
  • Paw protection
  • Paw balm
  • Rain jacket

The point of attachment is essential when running with dogs. And by point of attachment, I mean where you’ve got that cute leash hooked onto. Instead of attaching it to the collar, which has a high choking probability, experts recommend using a body harness. A harness where the leash is hooked to the chest reduces leash tension and gives your dog better control queues!

Choosing Ideal Routes

When planning a running route, prioritize areas with little to no traffic to minimize distractions and reduce the risk of accidents. Additionally, consider paths that offer ample shade, particularly on hot days.

Familiarizing yourself with the area ahead of time can also help you avoid any unexpected challenges or unseen hazards, making for a smoother running experience for you and your pet. For outdoor enthusiasts, exploring nature trails with your dog can provide a more enjoyable and varied environment on dirt trails.

Running Surfaces

The type of surface you run on can impact your dog’s comfort and overall health. As a general rule of thumb, avoid running on concrete or rough terrain for extended periods, as these surfaces can cause excessive wear on your dog’s feet. Instead, opt for softer surfaces such as grass, dirt, or running-specific trails whenever possible.

Running on grass will be better for both you and your dog’s joints, but beware of hazards like rabbit holes which can be dangerous.

Woman jogging with her dog.
Photo credit: michaeljung/Shutterstock.

Training Your Dog for Running

Just like humans need to train for longer runs, it’s important you take the same steps with your pup! You want your furry best friend to learn to enjoy running without any injuries or traumatic experiences.

Starting Slow

When training your dog for running, begin with short distances at a comfortable pace for several weeks. This allows you to help build your dog’s endurance and strength gradually.

Consult your veterinarian to ensure your dog is physically capable of handling running before starting any training program. Be mindful that puppies and older dogs may require a different approach and adjustments in training.

If your dog does not yet know basic commands or how to walk on a leash, it may be smart to consult a professional dog trainer before running.

Position Your Dog Correctly

Keep your dog on a short leash to maintain control and establish a consistent running position as you begin running together. Ideally, your dog should run beside you, not too far ahead or behind.

This helps maintain a consistent pace and encourages your dog to focus on the route. Use a leash with some elasticity or a harness for running to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety.

Reading Your Dog’s Body Language

Monitoring your dog’s body language during and after your runs is crucial. Watch for exhaustion or distress, such as excessive panting, limping, or discomfort.

If your dog shows fatigue or distress, stop running, provide a cold water break, and let them rest. Please familiarize yourself with the various signs indicating a problem, and never push your dog beyond its limits.

Increasing Pace

Once your dog has become comfortable running by your side and shows no signs of distress, gradually increase speed and distance. Remember that, like humans, dogs need time to build up their conditioning, and not all dogs can handle long distances.

Limit your runs to a maximum of 5 to 6 miles and no more than three days per week to prevent overexertion and injury. Remember always to prioritize your dog’s health and well-being while training them for running.

A dog resting after a good run.

Safety Measures While Running

Running with your dog can be a fun and healthy activity for you and your canine companion. Following some essential safety measures can ensure a pleasant experience for both of you.


One key aspect of running safely with your dog is ensuring proper hydration. Always bring plenty of water for you and your pet, and offer water to your dog regularly. Some signs of dehydration in dogs include excessive panting, dry or pale gums, and lethargy.

Sudden Health Changes

Please pay close attention to your dog’s health while running, as sudden behavior or physical condition changes may indicate a potential issue. According to Health, some signs to watch for include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Drooling and dark red gums
  • Vomiting

If you notice these symptoms, stop running immediately and consult a veterinarian to identify and address any health concerns.

Post-Run Checks

Once you’ve completed your run, it’s essential to do a thorough post-run check of your dog. Examine their paws for any cuts, abrasions, or burns, especially if you’ve been running on hot or rough surfaces. Additionally, check for any signs of overheating or heatstroke, such as rapid breathing, excessive drooling, or vomiting.

By performing these checks after every run, you can catch any issues early and ensure your dog stays healthy and safe.

Couple with dog running outdoors.
Photo credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.

Running in Different Seasons

Each season brings different pros and cons while running with your pup. Although it’s definitely doable to run throughout the year, it’s best to be prepared. Many runners have different favorites and opinions, so it’s up to you to choose your favorite time of year to run!


Summer is a beautiful season for outdoor adventures, and running with your dog can reach new heights of enjoyment. However, it is essential to take precautions against high temperatures and humidity. Ensure your dog has access to shade and water on your runs, and avoid running during the hottest parts of the day.

Opt for early morning or late evening runs when the temperatures cool and the sun is less intense.


Autumn is a great time to start or continue a running routine with your dog. In most regions, the temperature quickly becomes more accommodating, and the danger of overheating is significantly lessened. Enjoy the colorful scenery and crisp air as you and your dog navigate through fallen leaves.

Watch for wildlife; some animals may be more active during this season.


Running with your dog during winter can be challenging due to cold temperatures, snow, and ice. Invest in protective gear for you and your dog, like coats and boots, to keep warm and maintain traction on slippery surfaces.

Shorten your running sessions and monitor your dog’s comfort and energy levels, as snow and ice can be tiring for them to navigate. Always check and clean your dog’s feet after running to remove any ice, snow, or de-icing chemicals.


As temperatures rise and the snow melts, spring is an ideal time to resume or increase your running routine with your dog. Enjoy the blossoming plants and the return of greenery, but be cautious of wet and muddy trails, which can be slippery for you and your dog.

Look out for allergens that could affect your dog, and ensure they’re protected against fleas, ticks, and other pests that become more active during this season.

Silhouettes of runner and dog on field under golden sunset sky in evening time.
Photo credit: Andrey Yurlov/Shutterstock.

Challenges and Solutions

Although running with a dog has its many benefits, it’s also important to be aware of potential challenges. We never want running to be painful for you or your pup. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Running Fatigue

Running fatigue is a common issue humans and dogs face during long or intense runs. To help combat this problem, ensure that you and your dog are in good physical condition before starting a running routine. Gradually increase the distance and intensity of runs to allow your dog to build up its endurance.

Additionally, give your dog plenty of water breaks and opportunities to rest during runs, especially in hot weather. Maintaining a consistent running schedule can also help prevent fatigue.

As a regular old dog parent, you’re probably used to some communication and monitoring while on your regular walks, which is needed while running.

Distractions While Running

Dogs are naturally curious animals, which can lead to distractions while running. To minimize distractions, practice basic obedience commands such as “heel,” “sit,” and “stay” before starting to run together. Training your dog to respond to these commands can make keeping their focus while running easier.

Choose running routes with fewer distractions, such as less congested areas or parks with designated dog-friendly zones. Using a proper running leash that provides control without causing discomfort to your dog can also help manage distractions.

To make running fun for your dog, consider tacking on a fun treat for them afterward, like a trip to the dog park or a place they can walk around to smell all the scents.

Uneven Pace

An uneven pace can be challenging and frustrating for you and your dog. To address this issue, observe your dog’s natural pace and adjust your pace to match. Depending on your dog’s abilities, you might need to slow down or speed up.

Be patient and give your dog time to build endurance, as they might not be able to maintain a fast pace immediately. Using a running app or device to track your pace can be beneficial for monitoring improvements and adjustments.

Woman and dog enjoying freedom on beautiful golden sunset. Fitness girl raising arms celebrating sport achievement with her pet.
Photo credit: Dirima/Shutterstock.

Running with Dogs Frequently Asked Questions

What breeds are best for running partners?

You must consider your dog’s breed. Some breeds are naturally more suited for long-distance running. These include athletic and energetic breeds like Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Weimaraners, and sporting dogs. However, short-muzzled breeds like bulldogs or pugs may face difficulty breathing while running due to their unique respiratory system. Dogs with short legs may be unable to keep up with your pace, while larger breeds are prone to hip dysplasia.

How do you train a dog to run on a leash?

To train your dog for running on a leash, start with basic leash training, ensuring your dog knows how to walk beside you without pulling. Slowly increase the pace and duration as your dog gets more comfortable with walking, and gradually introduce jogging. Use positive reinforcement, praise, and treats to encourage your dog during training.

Should I give my dog more food if we are running regularly?

Regular running can increase your dog’s energy requirements, and you may need to adjust their food intake accordingly. Monitor your dog’s weight and any changes in their body condition. If your dog is losing weight or becoming overly lean, consult your veterinarian to create a suitable feeding plan tailored to your dog’s needs.

How far can my dog run?

The distance you should run with your dog depends your dog’s age, breed, and fitness level. It is essential to keep your dog safe! Start with shorter distances and increase them gradually, continually assessing your dog’s energy levels, heart rate, body temperature, and any signs of fatigue or discomfort. Consult your veterinarian for a physical checkup to establish a safe and appropriate distance based on your dog’s needs.

Is running on pavement safe for my dog?

Running on pavement can be safe for your running buddy if proper precautions are taken. Check the pavement’s temperature, especially during hot summer days, as hot asphalt can burn your dog’s paw pads. Also, pay attention to signs of wear or injury in your dog’s paws, and consider using dog boots for added protection on rough surfaces.

What is the proper etiquette when running with my dog?

The proper etiquette while running with your dog is similar to the rules you consider as a dog owner when walking. It includes keeping them on a leash, ensuring they don’t interfere with other runners or pedestrians, staying on one side of the trail, picking up after them, and adhering to local leash laws. Only let your dog off leash in designated areas if they have excellent recall with a single verbal cue.

How often is it recommended to run with your dog?

The frequency of running with your dog depends on age, breed, and physical condition. A general guideline is to aim for three to five runs per week, but monitoring your dog’s joints, energy, and health is essential to adjust their running schedule accordingly. Always consult your veterinarian before starting a new exercise regimen with your dog to ensure they are in tip-top shape, and consider rest days to prevent overexertion.

How do I carry water for my dog while running?

When running with my dog, I like to fill a hydration pack with water and then pack a collapsible water bowl for my pup. It’s reccommended to stop every mile or so to give your furry best friend a drink.

How much water should I pack for a run with my dog?

Although each dog is going to be a bit different, a general rule of thumb is to pack 1/2-1 ounce of water for every pound of your dog. This will of course slightly vary depending on the temperature outside and the length of your run.

Silhouette man and dog jogging on the background of beautiful sunset.
Photo credit: Songdech Kothmongkol/Shutterstock.

A Good Running Partner

Running with your dog offers numerous health benefits, such as reducing stress and enhancing overall well-being. As you and your pet engage in this joint activity, prioritize your dog’s needs and safety.

With practice and dedication, running with your dog can become a rewarding activity that strengthens your bond and leads to a healthier lifestyle for both of you. These tips for running with your dog will help get your dog (and yourself) ready for this new running routine! Grab your running shoes and get ready to hit the trails.

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.


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