Running With Dogs? Tips To Keep It Safe & Sporty
As a runner, it's much easier to get going when you have a running partner. Even better when they're your four-legged, loyal canine companion. Discover the best practices for running with dogs - and how best to keep them safe if they decide to run off on a whim.
Running with your dog is a great way to bond with your furry friend, get in shape, and get your dog their daily dose of physical activity. But the biggest perk to regularly exercising your dog? Ensuring they’re too tired to run away or make an escape attempt.
Because while running with dogs might seem like fun, your dog can and will outrun you if they’re in the mood. And for reference, the average dog running speed clocks in between 15-20 miles (24-32 km) per hour.1 (Even faster for active, high-energy dog breeds.)
So before you head out for a run with your dog, here are a couple of tips to guarantee a fun fitness adventure – that also keeps your buddy safe. Like following their every step in real-time with a GPS tracker in case they bolt off while on a run.
Table of contents
- Is your dog fit for running?
- Master loose-leash walking first. ..
- … and then basic commands
- Speed things up with a cue
- Train for endurance.
- Get your dog running gear
- Pay attention to your dog.
- Consider the weather.
- Choose a dog (paw) friendly running route.
- Always clean up after your dog .
- Plan ahead for your dog running off
- Safety tips first – but then ready, set, go!
Is your dog fit for running?
Not so fast! Before you start running with your dog, you need to find out if your dog’s age, health, and breed make them actually suitable for running. Certain dogs won’t be able to run at all, whereas other dog breeds are born for running.
- Check out our guide to the best running dogs for more information on what makes a dog suited to running or not.
- And of course, consult your vet if you are unsure about your dog’s physical abilities before starting any new exercise routine with your dog.
Is my dog likely to enjoy running? What to consider
- If they’re young. Puppies might seem like little balls of endless energy – but even they have their limits. They might also be too excitable to take for long runs. (Since they’re more likely to get distracted, run off, and get lost.)
So wait until your dog is at least one and a half years old to run with them. Running can be dangerous for puppies, whose bones are still growing,2 Or if they pick up an infectious disease (like distemper) before they’ve gotten their vaccinations.
- If they’re on the older side. Senior dogs might be vulnerable to mobility-affecting health conditions like arthritis. So for them, even long walks might feel uncomfortable. Besides, with their risk of developing conditions like dementia, a senior dog might even wander away while out on a run. (And not be able to find their way back home because they’re disoriented.)
- If they’re a brachycephalic breed. Dogs with short muzzles like Pugs or Bulldogs are not well suited to running long distances. (As they’re more prone to breathing difficulties.)
Lastly, always consider your dog’s personality, temperament, and physical health before heading out for a run with them. Make sure to get a green light from your vet before starting any new routine.
Master loose-leash walking first...
Safety first. As any dog parent knows, training is an essential part of raising and caring for a beloved furry friend. So before your dog can safely run with you, they’ll need to have mastered walking on the leash first. Because it can be dangerous when your dog pulls on the leash. (And even more so when you’re both running at full speed!)
Later, when you’re actually running with dogs, you’ll need to make sure that your canine companion is trained to run beside you – not in front of you, or all over the place. Otherwise, you could get hurt by tripping on or getting tangled in the leash.
⚠️ Walking your dog on a leash might even be a legal requirement in different countries around the world (and some US states.) Make sure to check your local laws before heading out for a run with your dog.
Read more: The guide to leash training a puppy or dog
…and then basic commands
If your dog misbehaves on walks, then they probably aren’t ready to run. Teach your dog some basic commands that you can use when you run.
- “Leave it” is a helpful command, as your dog will learn to ignore tempting items on the route (like leftovers).
- Teaching your dog to “Sit” and “Stay” is also very important, especially at traffic crossing.
💡 For a safe and smooth run, consider a fun, practical method like clicker training for dogs that’s based on positive reinforcement. Because if your dog decides to go off wandering while out running, teaching them recall (“Come”) is going to be a lifesaver.
Speed things up with a cue
Once your dog is walking on the line like a good boy or girl, you can slowly start to increase the pace you’re going together. Here it can be helpful to use a cue, to let your dog know you’re picking up the pace.
For example, if you say, “Come on, let’s go” to tell your dog it’s time for a walk, you might try a different cue such as “Run, buddy!” to signal it’s time to run.
💡 Make sure to teach another cue to help your dog learn when it’s time to slow down. (“Okay buddy, let’s slow down” – or similar.) Use the same phrases consistently for best results.
Train for endurance.
If you’ve mastered the previous steps, now it’s time to start building endurance in your dog. As runners, we need to build strength and endurance over time; your furry friend is no different. Too much too soon increases your dog’s risk of injury, just as it does for you.
Start out by incorporating small stints of running into your daily walks with your dog. Slowly, gradually, increase the time spent running on each succeeding walk. Your canine fitness companion will be in shape in no time.
💡Tracking your dog’s daily activity can be a great way to stay motivated and consistent with a fitness routine. (Kind of like your Duolingo streak.)
Plus, your Tractive device comes with a built-in motion detector to pick up on how active your dog’s been throughout the day. So you can ensure they’ve gotten enough exercise – and that they’re fit and healthy.
Get your dog running gear
The perfect dog jog or run is not complete without the right equipment – for you and your furry friend. In addition to your personal running gear, here are somethings to take with you for your furry friend:
- Collar or harness. Make sure your dog is wearing their collar or harness – so you can attach their ID tags, leash, and tracker/activity monitor to it.
- Make sure your dog’s ID collar tags include your contact details.
- Dog running leash. Use a hands-free dog running leash to ensure your dog stays by your side and out of harm’s way.
- Running belt or backpack. To keep your poo-bags, cell phone, keys, and water.
- Paw ointment. To protect your dog’s feet from the elements.
- A dog jacket, in case of very cold weather.
- Collapsible water bowl. So your dog never has to go thirsty.
💡A runaway dog might end up in a bit of a rough and tumble situation – where their ID tag might fall off. So besides an ID tag, consider getting your dog microchipped.
A microchip works like a permanent ID tag for your dog implanted into their shoulder blades. (Which a vet can scan to find your contact details and inform you they’ve found your lost dog.)
Plus, it’s a painless, 10 minute, relatively affordable procedure you can do at a local community clinic near you.
Pay attention to your dog.
As you’re running you’ll need to consider not only your own needs and condition, but that of your dog(s) too! So pay attention to your dog’s behavior and act accordingly.
- While running, your dog might get thirsty, need a potty break, get tired, injured, or sore.
- Taking short water breaks throughout your run will give you an opportunity to check in with your dog and make sure they’re still doing okay.
- And of course, stop if your dog shows any signs of distress or illness.
⚠️ Even a dog struggling with illness, injury, or infection might seem normal and healthy. But if you’ve been tracking their daily movement, your Activity Tracking data can help you catch on to a change (like a dip or a spike in their active minutes) early on.
Besides, your Tractive device also sends you Health Alerts in case your dog hasn’t been as active as usual. So you can get them to a vet for a preventive health checkup. (And avoid an expensive, avoidable medical emergency down the line.)
Consider the weather.
Dogs endure hot and cold weather differently. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t jog with your dog when it’s too hot, because the last thing you want is for your dog to experience a heat stroke!
Dogs have fewer sweat glands than us and can’t shake off the heat like we do. Try to jog early in the morning or late in the evening, when the temperatures drop and the sun isn’t at its highest point. The best advice is to test your dog’s jogging endurance during different temperatures.
Your pup can’t tell you when he’s thirsty, so make a few water-breaks during the run until you have an idea of how much water your he needs.
Be especially generous with water in the warm months, because dogs overheat more easily than humans – because of all that fur and the fact that they don’t sweat. In cold weather, you may need to consider using a dog jacket or dog shoes.
- Dogs & Cold Weather: How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs?
- Dogs And Heat: How To Keep Dogs Cool In Summer
- Heat Stroke In Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention
Choose a dog (paw) friendly running route.
The great thing about running is that you can do it almost anywhere. But some places are better for your dog to run than others. Streets and sidewalks with hard surface can be tough on your dog’s body. Grass is softer and can be much easier on a dog’s joints than pavement (but beware of uneven surfaces and holes).
- If you’re running in the heat of summer, keep in mind that the pavement gets warm in the sun and can harm your pet’s paws. If the ground is too hot for you to touch comfortably with the palm of your hand, then it’s too hot for your dog to run on.
- Also, if you are running in winter, through snow and ice, avoid streets with salt and chemicals as these can be very toxic to dogs.
- Hiking with dogs and feel like a run? Make sure you’ve picked a dog-friendly trail.
Always clean up after your dog.
Be nice to your fellow runners and clean up after your dog! There is nothing worse than stepping in a mess that you have to clean off after your run.
Poop bags may not fit your running equipment, but bring a bag or two and pick up your pet’s mess – it really is the courteous thing to do! Keeping the environment clean really makes running more enjoyable for everyone.
Plan ahead for your dog running off
Even the most well-trained dogs can fall prey to their instincts. I.e., to:
- Chase down a woodland animal
- Wander off to meet a nearby female in heat
- Run away because they got spooked from nearby fireworks
- Or bolting off simply because they’re bored.
- Some dogs even run away because they need to burn off some extra energy!
💡 But now imagine having the peace of mind that you can track your dog – literally wherever they’re off wandering? In real-time and over an unlimited range? Means you’ll never have to experience the fear and pain of calling out for your dog and not hearing them respond.
Rather, with just a glance at your phone, you’ll be able to track your dog live – and find them in no time.
Like these happy Tractive dog parents around the world are experiencing:
And for sporty dog parents, we know how rough and tumble your outdoors adventures might get.
Which is why the Tractive DOG XL Adventure edition comes with bite-proof, fiberglass-reinforced casing and a 30-day battery life. So you can run, hike, jog, and swim in nature with your dog – 100% stress-free.
Always know where your dog is
Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your dog too.
Safety tips first – but then ready, set, go!
There’s a reason why so many dog lovers feel that dogs can be, by far, the best running partners. That’s because dogs which are suited to running are often eager and motivated to run with you; they love the ritual of it and get used to it very quickly. Your dog will never complain about the weather, and will motivate you to run on a daily basis.
But at the same time, make sure to stay on top of your dog’s safety and wellbeing before getting started with a running routine.
- Figure out whether your dog is fit for running. If they’re too young, too old, or a brachycephalic breed, running might not be the best to start right off the bat.
- Stay on top of your dog’s training. With basic commands, leash training, and cues while running.
- Start slow and build up over time. Training for endurance (over speed) can help your dog respond better to a running routine.
- Get your dog running gear in place. Including a leash or a harness and dog ID tags. We’d also recommend getting your dog microchipped for identification purposes, in case they get lost.
- Pay attention to your dog while running. For signs of exhaustion, injury, or if they’re sore. Tracking your dog’s regular activity can help you catch on earlier to any signs of a sickness or injury.
- Consider the weather. If it’s too hot or too cold, you’re better off playing an indoor game together instead.
- Watch out for your dog’s paws. Salt on pavements during winter and too-hot pavements during summer can injure them.
- Always clean up after your dog.
Track your running dog’s movements in real-time – and never lose them again
With a dedicated dog GPS tracker, you can track your dog’s movements in real-time and over an unlimited range. Which, in an emergency, can make all the difference between finding your buddy safe and sound…or potentially never seeing them again.
Besides, your Tractive device also includes Activity Tracking and Health Alerts. To ensure you’ve gotten your dog enough exercise – and when to consider taking them to a vet. (If, say, their active minutes drop more than usual.)
“Everything we build puts pets and pet parents first. It’s why we’ve built one device that tracks all aspects of your pet’s safety, from location to wellness. So you can holistically keep them both safe and happy.”– Sebastian Raab, Product Manager at Tractive & occasional pet-sitter
So we hope you enjoy running with your dog and cherish each moment that your four-legged family member is by your side! For more tips from a running pro, check out this video:
Got an inspiring story, or cute photos of your dog running with the Tractive GPS? Want to share them with us? Share your pics with Tractive on Facebook or Instagram for a chance to be featured on our blog or social media pages!
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