Follow our tips for running with your dog and you’ll be ready for trail wags and pavement pitter patter in no time.
What are the benefits of running with your dog?
Running can be kind of a paradox. Many embrace the sport because it offers solitude. But sometimes running gets lonely. To make sense of this paradox (or any problem really), it’s best to just add a dog.
There are many benefits to running with your dog. You get an eager running companion who you know and trust. Dogs have great instincts and can help keep you safe. And they’re great motivators — they’ll keep you moving without ever judging your pace. All for a few head scratches, an occasional treat, and some water stops, which you should be taking anyway.
Bryan Bhark (yes, that’s his real name) is a senior innovation footwear developer at Brooks Running. As a trail ultramarathoner, he spends plenty of time in the great outdoors with his dog.
“Running in the mountains with my 3-year-old vizsla, Cedar, is like having a training partner who is down for any distance, any speed, any condition — as long as there are treats and lots of post-run snuggles. He gives me an extra boost of motivation on tough runs because he never complains. He just keeps going and is happy to be in the moment. Cedar has accompanied me on runs up to 34 miles with over 14,000 feet of vertical gain with ease. Sharing miles with him has formed an inseparable bond between us. No run or adventure is the same without him.”
What about the benefits for your dog? When you run together, your dog can stay in great shape, too. A healthy dose of the outdoors keeps fido from going stir-crazy. And, you are the centre of your dog’s universe — your dog likely wants to do whatever it is you’re doing. Except for hoovering the living room, maybe.
How to run with your dog safely
If you want to get into stride with your four-legged friend, there are some important safety considerations. Follow the tips below to keep you and your dog safe while out on a run.
Puppies are a no-no
According to the American Kennel Club, it’s unsafe to run long distances with puppies because they haven’t had their growth plates fully developed. Prolonged or rigorous exercise can risk injury in puppies.
Walk before you run
Before you pick up the pace, make sure your dog is comfortable walking with a leash. You don’t want to be mid-run and have your dog run circles around your legs. Be patient — training can take some time, but you’ll want to teach the dog to avoid pulling on the leash before you get into full runs.
If you can run in an area that permits off-leash dogs, make sure they never stray too far from you. Be 100% confident with your dog’s recall ability — that’s where you call your dog and can expect them to respond.
Know your dog’s limits
It’s important to gradually build your dog’s mileage over several weeks and months, and ensure they also get proper calories, hydration and recovery, just like humans. Pay close attention to weather conditions — dogs don’t do well in high heat or humidity.
Consult your vet
Not all dogs are made to keep up with you on a run. Every breed is different, and so is every individual dog. Some breeds are built for speed and others, endurance. Working dogs like huskies and border collies are typically more suited to running with people over dogs like pugs and dachshunds. Ask your vet if it’s safe to run with your pooch.