Canine Bible is reader-supported. We receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. This doesn’t affect rankings. Learn more.
If you are looking to learn how to run with your dog, you are in the right place!
We’ve put together the most comprehensive running with dogs guide to make your runs enjoyable and rewarding for both of you.
It’s essential you understand the different factors that influence your dog’s ability to run. From dog breeds made for running, gear, and training to the weather conditions and more.
So, before you hit the trails, sit tight as we teach you how to run with dogs!
All about running with dogs
Can My Dog Breed Run?
Before you start running with your dog, it’s important to identify if your dog breed can run. Just like humans, not all dog breeds are born runners.
The first thing you need to do before you even think about running with your canine friend is to identify if your dog’s breed is fit for runs.
Some breeds, such as huskies and greyhounds, were bred to run.
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that dog breeds that have remained closest to their wolves ancestors have higher levels of athleticism and resistance when running than other breeds.
The research found that northern breeds (i.e., Siberian huskies, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyeds, etc.) had significantly better endurance than the other dogs. They also discovered that hounds and retrievers trotted at speeds substantially faster than predicted for quadrupeds of similar body mass.
Brachycephalic dogs (i.e., pugs and bulldogs), on the other hand, may not be good companions for that 5-mile run, but a fast-paced walk should be fine. These breeds have short legs, trouble breathing, and are prone to overheating quickly.
Below you will find a list of the best dog running breeds.
Always consult with your veterinarian before starting your dog on any exercise program. Make sure your pet is healthy enough and ready to run.
Top Dog Running Breeds: Best Dog For Runners
According to Runner’s World, professional dog runners, and the American Kennel Club, these are the top dog breeds for runners.
If your pet has a hint of one of the dog breeds listed below, then they might make great running companions.
|Dog Breed||Best For|
|Weimaraners||Long, steady runs; going fast; running on trails|
|German Shorthaired Pointers||Long, steady runs; going fast; running on trails|
|Vizslas||Long, steady runs; going fast; running in the heat; running on trails|
|Parson Russell Terriers||Long, steady runs|
|Greyhounds||Brisk, short runs; going fast|
|Pit Bulls||Brisk, short runs|
|English Setters||Brisk, short runs|
|Golden and Labrador Retrievers||Brisk, short runs; long, slow runs|
|Beagles||Brisk, short runs|
|Dalmatians||Long, steady runs|
|Rhodesian Ridgebacks||Running in the heat; long, steady runs|
|Fox Terriers||Running in the heat|
|Malamutes||Running in the cold|
|German Shepherds||Running in the cold|
|Swiss Mountain Dogs||Running in the cold|
|Siberian Huskies||Running in the cold|
|Border Collies||Long steady runs; running in the cold (just not the snow)|
|Belgian Sheepdogs||Brisk, short runs|
|Pharaoh Hounds||Brisk, short runs|
|Portuguese Water Dogs||Trails with obstacles; long, steady runs|
|Australian Shepherds||Trails with obstacles|
|Catahoulas||Long, steady runs|
|Standard Poodles||Long, steady runs|
When Can My Dog Start to Run?
Now that you have determined if your pup can run, you’ll want to ask yourself: “When can I start running with my dog?”
It will depend on three critical factors.
1. Bone Development (Growth Plates)
Running on hard surfaces such as pavements can damage a dog’s joints and bones that haven’t fully formed yet.
ASPCA’s animal behaviorist Sharon Wirant says “you really should wait until a young dog’s growth plates have started to close.“
But what exactly are puppy growth plates? They are areas of cartilage tissue near the ends of the dog’s long bones. Growth plates gradually calcify and transform into solid bone as your puppy grows older. That is, taking your dogs for strenuous runs prior to proper full growth plates development makes them vulnerable to being injured and potentially fractured because they still haven’t become bones.
It’s advised to postponed strenuous running with your pup until a young dog’s growth plates are one hundred percent mature. Generally, most growth takes place when the puppy is between the ages of 4 to 8 months.
However, that time frame varies by breed. You can use this general guide on the usual closure times of growth plates in dogs by Provet Healthcare Information.
Heather Loenser, Senior veterinary officer at the American Animal Hospital Association, recommends keeping runs to less than a mile before the nine-month mark.
The growth plates of large dog breeds will take longer to seal up than that of a medium/small dog breed. So, a Beagle could probably start going on regular runs earlier than a larger dog, like a German Shepherd.
Keep in mind that in some large/giant dog breeds, the growth plates may not mature until 18–20 months of age.
If you want to be sure your dog when it’s safe to start running with your dog, check with your veterinarian. He may take some x-rays to determine whether the bones have finished growing.
How Many Miles Can a Dog Run?
You have to make sure you are not making the dog take on too much!
Don’t expect your four-legged friend to be able to run marathon-length distances from the get-go. Your dog needs time to build its strength and endurance.
Nike+ Run Club’s Coach Chris Bennett tells us that the first run is about the dog and not about you. Running with your dog is not supposed to be all running. Let them explore and have a good time as well. Your first several runs should not involve much running at all. Let your pup set the pace so that it becomes an enjoyable experience that you would want to again.
Slowly over time, you’ll start building up distance just like you would for yourself. So, how far can a dog run?
If you are an amateur runner who likes to do daily runs, Tom Moroney, from New York’s Team Running Paws, recommends that you probably don’t want to take your dog more than five miles daily (and if you do go 5 one day, only do 2 or 3 the next).
Conversely, if you are a professional runner, hardcore runner, or are training for a marathon, you can have your dog join you on your easy days. Some dogs can run up to 25 to 35 miles with the proper training and conditioning, The Whole Dog Journal reports.
How To You Run With Your Dog: 16 Steps & Tips
Now that you have the proper gear to take your dog running and understand when and how long a dog should run, it’s essential to keep him safe along the way.
Here are the best tips for running with your dog that you need to follow!
- Wait at least nine months for proper bone development.
- Make sure your dog’s breed is suitable for runs.
- Check in with your veterinarian to make your dog is healthy and apt for runs.
- Get your dog the proper dog running gear.
- Training your dog to run (basic commands).
- Start slow and build endurance.
- Never skip your warm-up.
- Vary the length and duration of your runs together.
- Take water breaks so he can recharge and go to the bathroom.
- Cool your dog down when you’re finished by walking for several minutes.
- Don’t run when it’s too hot.
- Watch out for their paws.
- Monitor your dog at all times while running (look for signs of heatstroke or overexertion).
- Have a poop plan.
- Don’t give a treat too soon.
- Enjoy the run.
We’ll explain the points we haven’t covered previously in more detail in the next section below.
Training Your Dog to Run With You: Step By Step
Shelby Semel, a professional dog trainer, suggests that if your dog is prone to dodge off course or easily excitable, your dog will need training before they’re ready to run.
Use the following tips to teach your dog to run with you.
1. Introduce your dog to the harness (or backpack) and hands-free leash.
Start by letting him get used to wearing both items. Then, let him wear them around the house and reward him with treats, so he associates his new gear with an enjoyable, and fun experience.
2. Make sure your dog knows these basic commands before running
The American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests two essential commands your dog should master, the “let’s go” (or “get running”) cue and the “slow down” signal.
You should alert your dog to the change in pace by using those verbal cues to let them know when it’s time to slow down or pick up the peace so that you’re not just jerking him on the leash.
Other vital commands Fido needs to understand are:
- “Look” command: This probably the most essential command. This command gets his attention to focus solely on you. It makes it easier to communicate with him and teach him other commands.
- Recall command: This is an essential command to master to tell your dog to come in emergencies.
- “Leave It” command: Be sure your dog understands that everything on the ground isn’t up for grabs when you tell her to. While running, your dog may encounter trash, non-potable water, wildlife, among other non-edible items.
3. Take it outside for a practice run. Fill your pocket with treats!
4. Once out, decide what side you’d like the dog to run
If you’d like your dog to run on the right side, hold treats in your right hand.
5. Start running gradually and try to maintain the “heel” position
Take a quick jog about 10 yards, then stop. Feed the dog some treats from your hand. It’s okay if the dog doesn’t stay in the “heel” position at first but always correct your dog if he doesn’t. Gradually increase the distance and reward every time you stop. This will teach your dog to run by your side, and after a few weeks of practice, you won’t be needing treats.
NOTE: Minimize giving treats to your dog while running; it can cause an upset stomach and other problems in dogs.
6. If your dog starts to pull you or running ahead, stop immediately
If the dog pulls ahead, stop running immediately. Use the “recall command” or “slow down” cute to call your dog back to you or slow him down. Lure him back with treats, but don’t treat him yet. Instead, do a quick job again before feeding.
7. Repeat steps until dog master running alongside you
When your dog is well-training for runs, you and your new running buddy can start working on building endurance and going on longer runs.
Benefits of Running With Your Dog
A consistent running routine can do a lot for the health of you and your dog. These five incredible reasons will make you start running with your dog!
Running benefits for dogs
After running, runners experience a feeling of euphoria also known as the “runner’s high.” Running induces higher levels of endocannabinoids in the brain explains science. According to research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology our dogs experience a similar “runner’s high.” Not only do our bodies reward us for exercising, but so do our brains.
- Healthier heart and lungs for both you and your dog
- Tired dogs are generally happier and more obedient than under-stimulated dogs
- Keeps dog in shape
- Helps them lose weight
- Helps your dog socialize with the environment and other dogs, which provides mental health benefits.
- Active lifestyle reduces stress and anxiety in humans and dogs
- Exercise can help modify unwanted behaviors
- Reduces stress
Benefits for humans
Dogs are runners by nature, and they provide more than just faithful companionship during runs. According to a study by the University of Michigan, people who go jogging or just walking with their dogs are 34% more likely to abandon a sedentary lifestyle and practice more than 150 minutes of physical activity a week than people with other animals or none.
- It’s always nice and safer to run with a dog by your side, especially when running in dim or dark surroundings.
- Save on vet bills, running sessions keeps them healthy & in shape
- Helps build a strong relationship with your dog
- Best running partner, they are the most patient
- They will push your pace and keep you motivated to push harder
Nutrition For Dogs That Run
Does my dog need a special diet to support his or her running activities?
Usually, you wouldn’t have to adjust your dog’s diet if you’re taking your dog out for a run a couple of times a week.
Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, a professor of clinical nutrition and sports medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, told The New York Times:
“For dogs jogging along with you for 20 minutes a few times a week, a normal commercial dog food containing about 15 or 16 percent fat should be fine. But if you and your dog run five or 10 miles a day, that dog likely needs a slightly higher-fat diet”.Dr. Joseph Wakshlag
Protein content should consist of at least 25 percent protein, preferably from meat, but you can also mix in some vegan options. Dr. Joseph also mentions that if your canine friend is running continuously for more than 30 minutes, you should adjust a dog’s diet in terms of performance.
To be sure your dog’s nutritional needs are met, monitor your dog’s weight. If he is losing weight and seems more hungry, then you can increase the food rations and vice-versa.
Remember that water is the most important nutrient. Providing water before, during, and after the run is essential. Give water in small amounts; too much water at once, especially during vigorous activity, can cause gastric volvulus and dilation (GDV), also called “bloat.”
Tips For Running With Small Dogs
Is running good for small dogs?
While most dogs love to run, there are a few caveats and dangers about running with small dogs.
Toy dog breeds (i.e., Chihuahua) are usually not great running partners. They may look energetic and healthy, but their frail bodies and small bone structure are not made for long runs. Dr. Sarah Wooten, a member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists, says that they might be up for a walk or quick jog but not a full-on run.
If your dog is a brachycephalic breed (dogs with a smooshed face such as pugs) or a chondrodystrophic dog breed (dogs with shortened or bowed limbs such as Bulldogs or Corgis), consider sticking to walks or short, easy jogs. These dog breeds have trouble breeding and challenges running due to the shape of their legs, respectively.
To be sure your small dog is safe to run, visit a veterinarian to make sure they’re a suitable running companion.
Running With a Dog That Pulls
Stopping a dog from pulling during runs is all about proper leash training!
If your dog starts pulling, stop on your tracks as soon as you notice this behavior, grab the leash, and stand still, and refuse to move until he calms down and returns to you.
Never yank your dog, jerk the leash, or yell at your dog. These actions will never fix the behavior.
You can also try to redirect his attention with a treat as soon as you sense he is starting to pull, but the best solution is to use dog leash training to stop this unwanted behavior. If your dog tends to pull a lot during runs, your dog may benefit from using a harness and head halters.
In this video, you’ll learn how to stop your dog’s leash pulling and train your dog to walk or run by your side.
Best dog running gear
Best Dog Running Gear & Equipment
Learn about the importance of dog running gear. Having the right equipment for your best friend and go-to adventure buddy will make runs for pleasant and safer.
From leashes to running booties and almost everything in-between, here are the top running gear for dogs.
Best Hands-Free Leash For Running With Dog
We recommend running with hands-free leashes only. If you lose your balance, having a free hand may save you and your pooch from accidents.
If you want a leash that will be more convenient while running, look for a hands-free leash like this one from Sparkly Pets. It attaches to your waist so you can keep your hands free to run more freely.
It’s also adjustable to fit all sizes of humans, and so you can tether your dog up to other sturdy objects like a tree or a fence if you ever need to.
Best Dog Running Harness: Kurgo
If you need a better way to run with your pet, so she doesn’t yank you down the trails, a dog harnesses can make a difference.
Kurgo’s dog harness is designed for mobility, which is excellent for running. If your dog hasn’t quite master leash manners and is always trying to wriggle out of his collar and constantly pulling, a dog running harness makes it easier to control and manage any dog. A harness is a great training aid for first-time dog runners.
It’s also safer for their body. A dog harness puts pressure on their chest instead of their neck.
Best Dog Running Belt
So, how do I carry my keys, phone, water, treats, and other items while running with my dog?
We like using the running belt by Ruffwear. It’s a comfortable way for a runner to carry water and all your essentials.
Best Dog Running Backpack
For longer runs, you might need more space to carry your dog’s trail essentials. Sometimes a running dog belt might not be enough.
A dog running backpack allows your pooch to carry his water, extra water for you, and other necessities.
Ruffwear’s dog pack has two side pockets that fit 0.6-liter of water, each with enough room left for treats, pick-up bags, and a small leash.
Best Dog Running Balm: Musher’s Secret Pet Paw
Whether you in cold or hot weather conditions, paw balm is perfect for protecting Fido’s pups at the trails.
The balm, made from a blend of waxes and oils, protects paws from sand, hot pavement, ice and salt by creating a layer of protection around your pup’s paw.
Before you start your runs, we recommend always rubbing some paw balm on your dog’s palms to minimize the dry skin and damage pavement can cause. Reapply the balm after returning from runs.
Best Dog Running Boots
If you want to protect your dog’s paws, dog running shoes or boots are the best options.
Hot pavement/asphalt in the summer, salt and snow during winter, and rough rocks and dirt can impact your dog’s comfort as they run. That’s why protecting your dog’s paws is important, and running dog shoes are a definite must for any run.
A little heads up! Not all dogs love these. Make sure your train your dog to use the boots inside the house several times before going on a run (see video below).
Best Dog Running Water Bottle
How to carry water for your dog when running?
Keeping your dog hydrated while running, it’s essential!
This dog water bottle for dog runners lets you conveniently offer your dog water without any mess or waste. They are portable and have a leaf-shaped silicone bowl that folds out for easy use.
You can pair this with the dog running belt option above.
Dog Running Gear List
Below is a list of 10 things you should bring with you when you’re running with your dog.
- Water bottle(s) with water for the dog and you
- Hands-free leash
- Collar with tags
- Reflective dog vest for more visibility at night
- First aid kit
- Boots for hot pavement or winter weather
- Dog backpack (for carrying extra items)
- Brush to remove burrs, leaves, and debris from your dog’s fur after the run
- Hand wipes and paper towels in case of accidents
- Poop bags
- Towel to dry your dog up in case your dog hops in the water or gets muddy
Tips, FAQs and more.
Dog Running Endurance Tips
The first advice to build endurance running is to start with a slow and gradually increase the pace to achieve longer runs.
Here are five steps to building your dog’s endurance for longer runs.
1. Consistency: Consistent running builds your dog’s aerobic base and capacity (which is how much oxygen your muscles can use) and strengthen his muscles. Aim for 3 to 4 sessions per week for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Run Longer: By week 3, you’ll want to increase your runs by another 5 to 10 minutes each time. It might not sound like much, but it begins to add up.
3. Shorter Distance But Faster: You’ll want mix in some tempo runs, or run over a shorter distance, but at a higher pace than usual.
4. Nutrition For Endurance: Ensure your dog’s diet provides enough nutrients, carbs, and energy to cover the distance you’ll be running.
5. Recover: Your dog’s recovery is based on a proper diet and sufficient sleep time.
Monitoring Your Dog During The Run
Understanding your dogs’ capabilities and limitations is important. It’s up to you to ensure your beloved pup is doing okay through the run.
Michael San Filippo, the spokesperson for the American Veterinary Medical Association, explained that “dogs usually limit their activity when they’ve had enough, but sometimes they’ll go beyond their comfort zone and conceal an injury to keep up with their owner.”
Monitor your dog at all times, both during and after a run, to check whether it’s doing okay.
If you notice any of the following signs of exhaustion when running with your dog, immediately stop:
- Dog refuses to run
- Heavy or rapid panting
- Extremely pulled back lips
- Signs of heatstroke or overexertion
- Dark red tongue
- Dark red gums
- Excessive drooling
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Other signs your dog isn’t enjoying the run are lack of engagement, enthusiasm, and whining. If a dog’s tail or ears are tucked, he might not be enjoying himself.
When a dog is lagging or has a hard time keeping pace, this means he or she could use a break. If your dog stops and refuses to continue, don’t force him.
Risk of Running With Your Dog
Are there any risks associated with a dog running? Yes!
There are a few pet dangers that you need to be aware of that occur when you are running with Fido:
- Pad abrasions
- Muscle soreness
- Joint wear and tare
Too much too soon increases your dog’s risk of injury, just as it would a human’s. Please make sure you are proactive and use all the tips we’ve provided above to ensure you have a safe and fun running experience with your dog.
When Is Too Hot to Run With Your Dog?
Summer heat and humidity are not always ideal running buddies for your pet dog.
So, when is it too hot to run outside with your dog?
Chris Vargo, the 2014 U.S. 50-mile trail champion who takes his dog Colt, a 4-year-old black Lab, on runs up to 25 miles, says that
“when it’s over 90 degrees, I don’t run outside with Colt at all. I mean, he’s a black Lab,” Vargo says. “I don’t want to kill him,” adding that he’s seen friends’ dogs run into trouble at distances as short as 4 miles in the heat.
A safe temperature to run with your dog is 75° F or below. For higher temperatures in hotter months, a good tip is to run in the shade, in the mornings or evenings, when the temperatures are cooler.
Justine Lee, an emergency critical care veterinarian, recommends taking the temperature and adding the humidity. Anything over 150 or more it’s probably too hot. So, if it’s 90 degrees with 70 percent humidity (90+70=160), then your pup should stay home.
Beware! Pavement, asphalt, sand, and car surfaces can become very hot during the summer months exceeding temperatures of 145° F.
We recommend testing your trail’s surface temperature before running on them with your dog. Place your hand or a barefoot on it for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet. If you avoid doing this, you run (no pun intended) the risk of burning your dog’s pads.
Some gears to help during hot weather runs are dog booties and a cooling vest. Never head out for a run in extreme heat. If you do, your dog might suffer from heat stroke.
Keep your dog’s coat type in mind. Thick-haired dog breeds such as a Husky will be pretty miserable during summer runs while compared to short-coated dogs.
When Is Too Cold to Run With Your Dog?
According to PetMD, cold temperatures are not a problem for most dogs unless they are below 45° F. However, when the temperatures fall below 32° F, you should make the necessary adjustments when taking your dog outside.
Your best allies during cold-weather runs are dog booties and dog jackets. Winter dog gear can help protect your dog’s bellies and paws from the icy trails.
Running with your dog on temperatures under 20° F is not advised. At this point, your dog is at risk of developing hypothermia and frostbite.
Be mindful of your dog’s coat type. Dogs with thin coats are more susceptible to cold climates risks.
Dog Muscle Soreness After Running
Yes, dogs can get muscle soreness from running!
Muscular soreness is a sign your dog may be running too much. This typically shows up after the dog rests following excessive running. How do you notice that your four-legged friend is sore?
A few common signs are:
- When your dog is ready to get up, you may notice a struggle
- Your dog may refuse to walk up or downstairs
- May show signs of discomfort when reaching down to the food dish
- A dog may even cry out when first moving about
So, how do you get those sore muscles back to normal?
To lessen the chances of your dog being sore, build endurance first before going on longer runs: run-on grass or soft surfaces. A body massage can aid with recovery and help loosen up stiffened muscles. If your dog is in too much pain, call your veterinarian.
Will My Dog Pad’s Get Injured During Runs?
Yes, a dog’s paw pads can get injured during runs. Sudden stops can create paw pad injuries, dog steps on glass or other sharp objects, extreme temperatures, and other factors that can cause your dog’s pads to tear.
You need to examine your dog’s paws before and after the run, and you’ll realize how much punishment his pads take daily.
Running with dogs can be fun, but overworked pads are not! It just like walking on a ruptured blister on the bottom of your foot.
Some signs of overworked pads may include tears with visible flaps of skin present, which may appear red, worn away, or thinner than normal. Swelling or pus may also be present if infected. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop running and give your dog the appropriate medical attention.
Dog Running Training Beginner Plan
Are you wondering how you can run 5k with your dog?
This basic plan will help you will let you and your pooch progress at a safe and reaching that 5K goal.
|Week 1||Pick three days out the week, ideally Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Plan a 2 to 3 mile runs at a mild to moderate pace. You can choose to rest on weekends or add a bonus run.|
|Week 2||Build distance. Try adding 0.5 mile or 5 minutes to your original 2-3 mile run.|
|Week 3||Repeat week two and try to increase your average mile pace from moderate to moderate-high.|
|Week 4||Build distance again. Increasing your distance by 0.5 to 1 mile and add one or two more running days to your schedule. So you are running 4 to 5 times a week.|
|Week 5||By now, you should be able to run 4 to 5 miles if you are struggling to go back to week four and work on your endurance. If not, week five should include tempo style runs.|
|Week 6||Add 0.5 to 1 mile to your distance and one more day, so you are running five days a week consistently. You and your furry running companion should be at the 5 to 6 miles a day. If you are not, repeat weeks 4 and 5 until you can meet week’s six goals.|
Running 5K with your dog takes condition and training. Be sure to provide time for active recovery and catching your breath. Nutrition and sleep are very important.
Other Tips For A Safe & Enjoyable Run
To keep a run in the trails more fun and safer, follow these simple rules.
- If your dog is overweight, running may not be appropriate yet.
- Only run with your dog until he’s mastered the basic commands for running.
- Plan your route and a running schedule. Be consistent.
- Follow our weather tips for hot and cold climates
- Stretch your dog before and or after runs
- Don’t forget your poop bag. Let’s respect the environment and other runners.
Running With Dogs
Every day more people take their dogs for a run.
Running with your dog is a great way to get some exercise and spend quality time together. Just make sure that you’re not overdoing it, so both of you can enjoy the experience for years to come!
Sources & References:  The Independent,  Pet Helpful  GQ,  YouTube Nike,  Active,  PetMD,  New York Times,  Vet Street,  Michigan State University  Journal of Experimental Biology