7 Tips for running with your dog

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We all love having a friend to run with! Running with your dog can give you an extra sense of motivation, and you can accomplish a lot when you both get out and exercise together.

But before you strap on Fido’s leash and hit the pavement, you should consider a few things, namely, what are some safe ways to run with your dog?

In my years as a running coach and marathoner, I’ve known a lot of people who love to run with their furry friends including myself. Below, I provide some super useful tips on making sure you and your buddy can safely be co-runners.

Make sure your dog is the right breed and age

Even if you love to run, your dog might not be a candidate to run with you. For example, dogs like pugs and bulldogs can’t run for very long because their top-heavy bodies and short noses don’t allow for it. It’s also not a good idea to run with puppies.

Usually, larger dogs with long legs like Weimaraner and Greyhounds make great runners. Little canines like Jack Russell terriers and Beagles can also be great. Mixed-breeds from an animal shelter can also be very eager runners. Here's a useful list by the AKC about the best breeds for runners.

Check the weather report

If you’re a die-hard runner like me, rain, snow, and heat are no reason to stay indoors! But dogs are different. They are much more susceptible to heat exhaustion and dehydration, and can more easily slip or damage their paws on the ice.  

Before you head out in unpleasant weather, ask yourself if you really think your dog can handle the conditions. Is it extremely hot? Is it very slippery? Do you need to cover your face from the wind? If so, let Fido stay home.

If not, make sure you’re taking precautions for your dog’s safety, like bringing along extra water in heat or giving them booties to wear to protect their paws in the snow. 

Ease them into it

Remember back to when you first started running? You probably couldn’t go very far right away. Make sure you help condition them to the activity.

Let them walk and then try running in short spurts. Then try running for ten minutes, and adding ten minutes to the routine each week.  

 Think about your dog’s paws. 

Dog paws are designed to handle a lot more than our bare feet. But you still need to make sure your running route is safe for their paws. Sidewalks are okay, but make sure to keep an eye out for broken glass or debris.

In the summer, the pavement can get very hot, so you and your dog are better off running in the grass, a dirt path, or sand. In the winter, sidewalks can be covered with ice-melting salt, and if your dog gets it caught in their paws, it can be very painful.

Be mindful that they are running without the protection of running shoes! 

Keep your dogs food in mind.

Nutrition balance for active dogs is important. Your current dog food might work fine, but your dog may want more of it because they’re burning calories on their run.

In fact, athletic dogs can require up to a stunning 10,000 calories per day! So if you notice that your dog seems hungrier or is losing weight after you start a running regimen, they either need more food or a different food altogether.

Be mindful of their needs.

If your dog doesn’t get excited about going out to run with you, they probably just don’t like it. That can be a bummer, but it’s best not to force them.

If during your run they are panting heavily or aren’t able to keep up with you, it’s probably too much. Just like you listen to your own body’s cues for what you can handle, you need to pay close attention to what your dog is communicating.

FAQs about running with your dog

How fast can a dog run?  

A dog’s speed depends on the size and breed of the dog. The fastest dog is a Greyhound, which can run up to 45 mph. German Shepherds come in second at 30 mph.

Most small dogs come in slower, except the Jack Russell Terrier, which can move its short little legs at up to 38 mph! Click here for a list of the fastest dog breeds.  

 How old should my dog be when I start running with them? 

Puppy bones are still developing up until they’re 18 months old. So while it may be tempting to run your energetic little puppy to tire them out, it’s best to let them play on their own until they’re fully developed.  

 What kind of food do running dogs need?  

Just like you, a dog needs a carefully balanced diet of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Read about the top-rated athletic dog foods here.

You may want to consult your vet before you start running with your dog to make sure they are getting the right food and the right amount.  

 How often should you run with your dog?  

Most dogs need about 30 minutes of exercise per day, but that can vary by breed.

A 30 minute run a few times a week is a good plan for a healthy, running-ready dog, provided they are not showing signs of being too tired or overwhelmed by hot or cold weather.  

What’s the best dog harness for running?

You’ll need a leash and chest harness that fits them comfortably, allows you to maintain control, and are bright and reflective for visibility when running at night.

I wrote an article on the best dog running leashes for you to find the ideal leash for you and your best friend.

Once everything is in order, heading out for a run with your dog can be an absolute blast! Your best friend could become your best running partner, spurring you on and reminding you of joy and love as you exercise. It’s a wonderful gift!  

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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