Should You Run With Your Dog?

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on May 29th, 2023

If you are a runner or thinking about picking up running, you might assume that your dog will be your eager exercise partner! But before you leash up and head out, there are some important things that you should know about dogs and running. 

In this article, we’ll talk about whether your dog is well-suited for running, what you can do to run safely, and how to troubleshoot potential problems.

Not every dog is a runner
There are a few different reasons why a dog would be unsuitable to be your running.

For one thing, they may not be bred for strenuous exercise. Dog breeds with short snouts, like Pugs and French Bulldogs for instance, are at higher risk for respiratory complications. On the other hand, there are some breeds, like the Greyhound, that are built more for sprinting than distance running. That’s not to say that these dogs can’t build up endurance, but they’ll need a slower training process than other breeds. 

Age is another important factor here. Dogs who are still developing should not be forced to run. The hard impact on their joints and muscles can negatively impact their growth.

Finally, overall health may prohibit your dog from running. No matter what kind of breed or age, it’s always recommended that you get your vet’s sign-off before running with them. If you get the go-ahead, here are a few ways to get started.

Start leash training early
Even if your dog is too young to run with you, it’s never too early to start leash training. Here are a few of the commands that you’ll want to master before going out for a jog:

  • Leave it. One of the biggest challenges of running with a dog is their tendency to stop in their tracks when they see other dogs or smell something interesting. But, even the most curious doggos can learn to ignore outside stimuli with the right training. Work on the “leave it” command at home and then reinforce it in gradually more interesting settings.
  • Heel. This command is absolutely essential! Without it, your dog will be all over the place, zig-zagging in your path and pulling you in different directions. Now, “heel” for a jog can look different than with regular leash walking. It’s perfectly fine for your dog to run slightly ahead of you, at your side, or slightly behind. As long as they understand that they should be keeping pace with you, you’re good to go. In fact, if you already have a “heel” command in which your dog walks directly at your side, you might train a new phrase such as “with me” for running.

Gather your supplies
Make sure to pack poop bags in your running pack and keep an eye on your dog to look for signs that they need a potty break.

You’ll also need to carry water and a portable drinking bowl or dog-designed water bottle. 

Run in intervals to get started
There are a few reasons why you’ll want to start training your dog to run with you in short bursts.

For one thing, it will be important to slowly build up your dog’s endurance. Most dogs are accustomed to short sprints, such as chasing a tennis ball or running around the dog park. Asking them to sustain a running pace for longer than a few minutes will take endurance training. 

Remember, also, that running with your dog requires them to enter “work mode.” They will need to be aware of changes in direction and speed while also ignoring distractions. What you’re teaching them, in other words, is how to maintain a state of focus. 

Finally, teaching running in short spurts will allow you to address play behavior. For many dogs, the sight of their owner running is exciting. They may be thinking, finally, my human wants to run around and play! You may find that your dog starts to bite the leash or try to jump up on you. When they get overly excited, calmly stop running, allow them to calm down, and continue walking. Don’t punish them, otherwise, they may form a negative view of running altogether. When they’re calm again, you can start jogging. Try as much as possible to maintain a neutral emotional tone, yourself. This will teach your dog that running is not playtime.

Over time, you should be able to lengthen these periods of running and shorten your rest times.

Avoid running on hard surfaces
Running on concrete and other hard surfaces is hard on your joints as well as your dogs. And the difference is that your dog doesn’t have specialized shoes to offset the impact or protect them from hot surfaces! 

So, as much as you can, take your dog to areas with sand or soft trails.

As you drive to new running destinations with your pup, remember to keep them safe in the back with BreezeGuard Screens. These easy-to-install window coverings will keep Fido safely in the car even when he’s raring to go! 

Practice proper paw care
Running on shaded trails is a good way to protect your dog’s paws. But if that’s not possible, you might want to train your pup to run in booties. There are also paw pad salves that can help keep the pads from cracking. 

At the end of every run, take a look at the paws to make sure there are no injuries or debris caught between the toes.

Most importantly, have fun!
Running can be a fantastic form of exercise and bonding time for you and your dog. But don’t forget to have fun with it! Keep a positive attitude during the training process, even when your pupper is still getting used to ignoring interesting smells and sticking with you. And, you can always schedule in a few solo runs if you’re feeling like your dog is not up to your level, yet. Overall, if you can be patient and understanding, your dog will eventually become an excellent running partner!


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