What is the best leash for running with a dog?

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Are you looking for the perfect dog leash for your next run? I get lots of requests from dog owners who are also runners wondering what the best dog running leash is. So, I decided I to compare them for you, and let you in on my favorite leash below.

First, I need to put you onto the hands-free dog leash. Yes — you read that right. A hands-free dog leash for runners connects the leash to a belt on your waist. The best hands-free leashes offer a strong and secure leash-to-collar attachment.

For security, the leash is also made with a shock absorber elongation that helps keep the stress off your waist and your dog’s neck.

If you want to avoid tripping over your leash, or worrying that your clasps and connectors will break, then you’ll want to go with the best hands-free leash. I’ve rounded up my favorites below.

The best dog leashes for runners

When you're buying a running leash, you'll want to strike the right balance between comfort and protection for you and your dog. Depending on the size and breed of your dog, you'll also want to choose the appropriate length.

You should also consider how close you want your dog running to you. Three or four feet is a great starting point for most dogs, and in the best case scenario, you'll purchase a running leash for your dog that can be adjusted.

Now, let's talk details. After years of running, I've tested lots of leashes that are excellent to use when you're taking your dog out for a run with you. Here are my favorites:

1. Best overall dog leash for runners

Kurgo Quantum 6-in-1 dog running leash

Let’s start with this leash that I like the best because of its versatility and value. Pros of this dog leash for runners
  • Has a 6-in-1 option: It can turn into a trainer leash, a hands-free courier, ties around your waist for another hands-free option, a training leash, a 4-6 foot traditional leash, and a double-dog option
  • Has a double-dog connector (the price goes up for this option, though)
  • Strong, sturdy material that will support even bigger dogs
Cons of this dog leash for runners
  • It’s a little more expensive than your typical running leash
  • The carabiner clasp on the leash might be too heavy for a smaller dog
  • Admittedly, this leash is a little rough around the shoulders

Buy on Amazon.com

2. Best running leash for big dogs

Paw Lifestyles Retractable Bungee dog running leash

If you have a medium- to large-sized dog, this could be a great option, but I don't recommend it for smaller dogs.

Pros of this dog leash for runners

  • It is really sturdy and reliable. If your dogs have a tendency to pull, the clips are strong, and the bungee will keep your dog on track
  • Features dual handles to ensure you are in complete control of your dog
  • Comes with a phone holder
  • Super comfortable
Cons of this dog leash for runners
  • More expensive than your average dog running leash
  • As mentioned before, the bungee cords add a little weight
  • The zippers on the phone pouch have a tendency to break

Buy on Amazon.com

3. Best running leash for night runs

Tuff Mutts running leash for dogs

The reflective material and comfortable details on this one make it great for night runners.

Pros of this dog leash for runners

  • Stays nice and tight, so it's not likely to drag on the ground
  • Fits snugly around the waist without being too tight
  • Reflective running material keeps you and your canine safe after dawn
  • It's cost-effective compared to other leashes
Cons of this dog leash for runners
  • It might drag on the ground with a smaller dog
  • Although it worked fine for me, there are a lot of reported breaks after just a few uses
  • It's a heavier leash, and the heavier the leash, the more wear and tear on your pup’s joints

Buy on Amazon.com

4. Most affordable dog leash for runners

TaoTronics running leash for dogs with Dual Bungees

This one's a best-seller for two reasons: It's effective and it's affordable.

Pros of the running leash for dogs

  • One of the cheapest yet most reliable leashes on the market
  • Good leash for controlling a dog that likes to pull
  • Adjustable, comfortable, and durable. What more could you want?
Cons of the running leash for dogs
  • Would be heavy for smaller dogs
  • If you adjust the length to the smaller sizes, it has a tendency to get in the way
  • There could be more reflective material on the outside as a safety precaution

Buy on Amazon.com

5. Most stylish dog leash for runners

Stunt Puppy Stunt running leash for dogs

The simplicity of the design and aesthetic appeal drew me in the most.

Pros of the dog running leash

  • Sturdy material and build
  • Great snap hooks and flexible brackets
  • Lighter weight than other similar leashes
Cons of the dog running leash
  • Expensive when compared to similar leashes
  • The waistband rides up while running

Buy on Amazon.com

6. Most durable dog leash for runners

Ruffwear Dog running leash

The Tubelok webbing on this leash combines durability and aesthetic, resulting in a leash that's stylish and built to last. If you're into trail running, Ruffwear also has whole trail running leash equipment.

Pros of this dog running leash

  • The Flat Out Leash includes an accessory loop that allows you to conveniently carry pickup bags
  • Strong and secure attachment
  • Easily adjustable
Cons of this dog running leash
  • Not ideal for small dogs

Buy on Amazon.com

How to run safely with your dog

Let’s answer some questions about the most important aspect of running with your dog: safety! One of the most important considerations, especially during the summer, is keeping your canine running partner hydrated. Let’s explore that first.

Do dogs need water while running?

There are a few effective ways to keep your dog hydrated while on a run: bring an extra water bottle and pour a stream. You can teach your dog to lick the stream and stay hydrated! You can pour water into your cupped hands.

Also, there are plenty of portable bowls you can pack with you on your run. Many of them collapse and will not take any unnecessary space.  Use your running bladder to deliver a stream of water for your dog.

Keep in mind that your dog won’t always let you know they are thirsty. There are indications of a thirsty dog, but just because your dog won’t drink from a receptacle, does not mean you are free and clear to keep running. Let’s look at some of the indicating signs of a dehydrated dog.

Sign that your dog is dehydrated

The common litmus test for a dehydrated dog is checking to see if the nose is dry. But keep this in mind! A dry nose does not mean much on its own. There are better indicators for a dehydrated dog:
  • Panting
  • Lethargic actions and fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Skin elasticity
  • Dry gums

According to the American Kennel Club, to check to see if a dog is properly hydrated by skin elasticity means doing the following:

Grab some of your dog’s skin near the shoulder. Pinch it and let it fall back in place. If the skin bounces back quickly, your pup is not dehydrated.

How far is it safe to run with a dog?

Determining how far you should run with your dog is reliant on the breed of the dog, age, and level of fitness. So, it depends on how healthy your dogs are.

A good first step is to go to your vet and ask them if running with your buddy would be a safe activity. If given the OK, take it slow and make sure you are watchful of your dog’s health.

Depending on the type of dog, you might want to keep running distances short by default. Dogs like bulldogs and pugs naturally have trouble breathing, so only short distances for those breeds. But larger breeds can often safely run longer distances.

So, if your dog does not have arthritis or any other physical condition, running can be a great way to strengthen the overall health of your pet. Just make sure you are running when the weather isn’t too hot or cold. Keep it safe for you and your pup!

Best dog running leashes FAQs

Running dog leash considerations:

All of the dog running leashes listed above have their strengths and weaknesses. Some don’t accommodate smaller dogs, others are not as comfortable as they could be, and some don’t have the sturdiest construction.

But all of them are solid leashes that you can trust for your pups. As a reminder though, here are some questions to ask yourself when looking for the very best dog running leashes:

How long should my dog’s running leash be?

Across the board, you will want a dog leash that gives you the freedom to adjust its length. It might take some trial and error, so be sure to do small test runs around the block to make sure you have measured the right length for comfortable running.

Make sure you have given your dog enough leash to run without the leash dragging on the ground. Also, be sure the leash is not too close to you.

If you are accidentally stepping on your dog or are making your dog nervous, you are more likely to get injured (or injure your running partner!)

Too much room on the leash and you run the risk of not being able to control your dog. Unless you have an obedient pup, it’s best to play it safe and keep your buddy close. But not too close!

Why are reflective dog running leashes important?

Reflective dog running leashes are important because they increase your visibility during the morning, day, and night while you and your dog run.

If you do run at night with your dog, you should be wearing clothing that reflects light. Bright colors are key for safety and visibility, and many of the best leashes take this into consideration.

During the summer, chances are that you will be running with your dog during the cooler morning hours. Depending on how early you start your run, you will want to make sure that early morning commuters see you and your running partner as much as possible.

A brightly colored leash with reflective areas is an essential aspect to consider for your running partner! Even during the daytime, reflective leashes are a great way to get people’s attention.

Is it better to run with a dog in a harness or collar?

It really depends on how obedient or large your dog is. Some dogs, despite being the biggest sweethearts, are also the biggest escape artists. So, getting a harness is never a bad idea if your furry friend is prone to slipping out of collars.

Harnesses are an excellent add-on to any hands-free leash. Using one will mean that you don’t have to worry about any unpredictable pulling. They give you a little extra control and can increase the stability of your leash.

A really important thing to note is comfort. Some harnesses have a tendency to dig into your dog’s armpit and cause chafing. Be sure to pick a comfortable, padded harness for your dog that also allows for adjusting, as some settings may be too tight for your particular pup.

Why you can trust Sabrina Wieser
Runningbrina is committed to bringing you unbiased ratings and information. Her editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Sabrina uses data-driven methodologies to evaluate all products, so all brands are measured equally.
  • Most featured running blog, past 6 years
  • USATF certified running coach
  • Experienced endurance athlete
  • 7 marathons

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