Guide to Running With Dogs for Exercise (For You and the Pooch)

How Long and How Far Can a Dog Run (In a Day)

Are you a dog parent and active runner who loves hitting the pavement at break-neck speed? Or, do you prefer to go the distance with a slower pace jog? Maybe you’re new to running and would like to take your dog with you. Whether you are an experienced runner or newbie, bringing your dog along offers many physical and mental benefits for you both. However, there are a few things you should know about running with dogs before grabbing your dog’s leash and slipping on your running shoes.

Related: If you like this post, you might also be interested in our Guide to Dog Walking

Training Your Dog to Run With You

Not all dogs are born runners, so even if your dog is a natural, you must have a dog running training plan that includes these steps:

First, speak with your vet. Visiting your veterinarian to ensure your dog is in good health and physically able to start a training program. If your pet is obese, walking is a better alternative than running. You should also understand your dog’s breeding. Australian shepherds are known distance runners, while greyhounds are known for speed over short distances. Their runs should match their breed. Also, some brachiocephalic dog breeds are not good runners because of their inherent health issues.

Second, gather the right supplies. A hands-free leash allows you natural arm movement when running. A rear-attaching harness is best at providing support for your pet while running without putting undue strain on their neck and throat from a collar.

Other necessities include:

  • Waistband pouch for treats
  • Portable water bottle and collapsible dog bowl
  • High visibility gear like a reflective collar or leash for night-time or early morning runs
  • Poop bags because you never want to be THAT pet parent who doesn’t scoop the poop

Third, train and socialize your dog. Training and socializing your dog from an early age can ensure your dog knows how to behave while on a leash and around other animals, people, moving vehicles and other distractions.

Teach your dog a few cues. Instead of pulling on your dog’s leash to change pace, give your pet a signal or command. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) it’s best if you come up with a cue like “let’s go,” “run,” “whoa” and “stop,” or ones that are new to your dog and not associated with another activities.

Age Guide to Running With Dogs

When can you start running with a puppy? Never. Dogs younger than 18 months should stick to walking, as their bones are still developing, and running could negatively affect bone development. Once your dog is 18 months, it’s considered an adult dog.

When is a dog too old to run? Whether human or canine, running is a high-impact sport that causes repeated stress on the hips, elbows, and knees. As a dog ages, constant running can lead to stress fractures and tissue damage. If your senior dog’s health is good and still enjoys running, slow your pace and allow your dog to run on grass (to cushion the impact). Alternate walks between your jogs.

dog taking a break on the beach
Most dogs aren’t long-distance runners. Take frequent short breaks to let them rest their joints, drink water, and catch their breath.

How to Teach Your Dog to Run With You

Begin your run with a walk, keeping your dog on one side of you. Avoid switching sides or letting your dog run in front of you, as either can trip you. Keep the leash loose and provide positive reinforcement, aka praise and treats, for not pulling on his leash and staying on whatever side you chose. Once your dog masters one side, you can train him on the other.

Pick up the pace with your cues. If your pet is good-natured while walking beside you, use your command to pick up the pace. Incorporating short runs into your walks can help your pet build endurance. Every few days, add 5 to 10 minutes to your run until your dog is okay running longer distances.

Common-Sense Tips for Running With Dogs

  • Start your run slowly, allowing your dog to warm up.
  • Let your dog set the pace. Your dog’s size and stamina will determine the speed at which you should run.
  • Allow your dog breaks (hydration and bathroom).
  • Schedule rest days. Like humans, dogs need a recovery day in between heavy work-out days.
  • Watch for signs of stress: limping, crying, hesitation, tucked ears or tail are all signs your pet may be unhappy or injured.
  • Regardless of breed, keep your runs short and at a slower pace in hot weather. In addition to posing a risk for dehydration and heat stroke, hot asphalt can burn your pet’s paw pads. You can protect their paws with booties or paw wax, but watch for signs of over heating. Signs of heat stroke include labored breathing, red gums, drooling, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Try to cool your pet down immediately by pouring water on him or with a wet towel. Take your dog to the nearest veterinarian or vet hospital.
  • Cold weather can be an issue too. Short-haired dogs can struggle to stay warm, while smaller dogs can have trouble navigating through snow. Ice and sidewalk salt can burn your dog’s paw pads. Protect your pet by making them wear a jacket, coat, or sweater and booties.
  • Know your route. If it’s new for you and your dog, you should always know the surroundings and how to get back home, to your vehicle or to help if needed.
  • Don’t push your pet. Dogs can run an average of two to five miles, with some clocking 15 to 20 miles a run. Of course, your dog’s breed establishes whether they are built for long-distance running. Short-snout breeds like a pug and short-legged dachshunds aren’t good candidates.
  • Depending on the dog’s breed, physical fitness, and stamina, your dog can for a little as 30 minutes before they tire or go for a few hours and still want to run.

Remember, your running journey is more about your dog than you, so take the time to bond with your pet and enjoy the trek.

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