The ultimate guide to running with your dog

Running with your dog can be great fun, as long as you do it right! Here’s everything you need to know.

Running with your dog is a great way to keep your running fun while bringing along and exercising your four-legged friends. There are often a handful of questions that get thrown around when talking about running with a dog. To answer these questions, we’ve created a complete guide to running with your dog. So sit down, gave me paw, and enjoy the read!

Is it okay to take my dog running?

Yes! Dogs require daily exercise, just like us for their health and happiness. Including a run with your dog, a couple of days per week is an easy way to increase their activity instead of the standard walk.

How do I start running with my dog?

Before running with your dog, you want to make sure they’re almost fully grown. For the majority of dog breeds, this is around 9 months. However, bigger dogs such as German Shepherds can take longer than one year and up to two. Running with a dog which is not yet fully grown may damage the dog’s musculoskeletal system, therefore, increasing the chance of developing conditions such as dysplasia.

How often should I run with my dog?

This ultimately depends on the dog. There are three considerations we must take into account when discussing how often to run with our dogs.

1.    Age

Running with too young of a dog (as previously discussed) may stunt the dog’s growth or lead to conditions such as dysplasia. Likewise, running with a dog who is considered old may develop muscle/joint strain.

2.    Size

Much like age, the size of your dog is also extremely important when debating how often to run with them. Smaller dogs will generally be less inclined to go for a run, whereas much larger and leaner dogs are well suited for the challenge. This is because smaller dogs have to work much harder to keep up (they only have small legs!).

3.    Breed

The final consideration when discussing how often to run with your dog is the dog breed. Different dog breeds have different energy levels and capabilities, just like us. For example, you’ll most likely never run a 10k with a pug although with a dog such as a lurcher or german shepherd you’d be able to cover more than double that distance.

On a final note, it is especially important to pay attention to your dog. If lacking energy, panting, or generally not acting themselves, it is best to leave the lead at home and hit the roads yourself – at least for a while.

How to stay safe while running with your dog

There are many different safety considerations to be wary of when running with your dog. One of these is that dogs have fur coats, this means they get much hotter much quicker than we do. As a general rule of thumb, if the temperature is above 25 degrees (Celsius) or very humid, it is advised to leave your dog at home.

Dogs are too loyal!

It’s a common fact that dogs are loyal to their owners. However, for running, this can often be detrimental to their health. This is because dogs will push through exhaustion and the heat, putting themselves in danger.

It is, therefore, essential to monitor your dog for any signs of fatigue before, during, and after your run.

Dogs don’t own shoes

Although it sounds obvious, dogs don’t own shoes. When running be cautious of any broken glass, sharp stones, rubbish and of course the terrain you are running on.

Keep the lead

Although many dog owners will disagree, keeping your dog on the lead is the safest option when running with your dog. Not only will this prevent them from taking off, but this will also allow you to navigate out the way of any cyclists, other dogs, small children, and any other obstacles you may face.

Keeping your dog on a lead is also considerate to those around you and other dog owners. Imagine being chased by a German Shepherd while on your morning stroll. Don’t be that guy.

Build up your dog’s endurance

Much like you would do yourself, it is vital to build up your dog’s endurance. This can be achieved by starting with a few smaller runs (less than 5k) a couple of times per week while slowing building the distance and frequency over a long period.

Keep your dog hydrated

Just like us, dog’s must stay hydrated! Ensure to give your dog water before, during (if needed), and after your run. Dog’s sweat more than humans due to their fur coats, therefore, meaning they need more water.

Adjust to your dog’s breed and ability

Depending on the breed of your dog will determine how far, fast, and how often they can run. Larger dogs such as German Shepherds and Labradors can cope with a much higher running intensity compared to pugs and sausages dogs.

Just like the dog’s breed, it is essential to adjust your running speed and distance to their ability. Some dogs will have much more energy and be able to keep up speeds as high as 7:00 per mile, whereas others may be more suited to 9 or even 10 minutes per mile.

Whatever your dog’s breed or ability, it is crucial to monitor any signs of fatigue before, during, and after your run. Make adjustments based on their needs, you can speak, they can’t.

What gear should you bring when running with your dog?

There are many different gear options to make both you and your dog’s life easier on the run, from leads with reflective materials to harnesses, we discuss the essentials.

Running lead

One option you may want to invest in as a proper running dog lead. We recommend the barkswell running dog lead. This allows plenty of slack, contains a zipped pouch (perfect for keeping poo bags), and even includes reflective material – essential for running in darker conditions.

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Harness

Running with a dog on a lead places strain on the dog’s neck, whilst also being prone to slipping off. Running with a harness transfers the load to the dog’s chest, allowing them to be much more comfortable and leaving you in complete control.

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Collapsible water bowl

When running in the heat, (remember no hotter than 25 degrees Celsius) bringing a collapsible water bowl can help keep your dog hydrated and happy. We suggest the COTOP portable dog water bottle. This is portable, convenient, and easy to use – providing your dog with fresh water during your run.

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Poo bags

Most notably, be sure to bring a couple of poo bags whenever you head out the door for a run with your dog. Always bring more than one, it’s better to be on the safe side. These can be stored in the zip section of your running lead (like the one we suggested).

How many miles can I run with my dog?

We have briefly touched on this; however, this entirely depends on the dog’s age, size, and breed. Many dogs are capable of running up to 25-35 miles per week. However, this must be built up over a long period of time.

The younger, older, and smaller the dog generally means the fewer miles you’ll want to cover. Be sure to research your dog breed beforehand, crucial towards protecting your dog’s health.

Be mindful of your run

When running with your dog expect to stop multiple times, whether this is to sniff a bush, mark their territory or god forgive if they’re making you use them poo bags. When running intervals, or faster running, in general, it is advised to leave your dog at home. If you are wanting to run with your dog on your interval day, you could perform either your warmup or cooldown with them instead.

To summarise

Running with a dog can be a fun experience for both owner and pet. Be sure to follow our safety tips to protect their health while allowing them to enjoy the running experience themselves.

When running with your dog, be sure to prioritise their safety and constantly monitor them for any signs of fatigue.

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