How to Turn Your Dog into the Perfect Running Partner
Looking for motivation to start running consistently or to stick with a training program? Having a running buddy will help you get out there and enjoy your time running again - and your dog can be the perfect running partner!
Wondering how to teach your dog to run with you? You’ll want to be sure to properly prepare yourself and your four-legged running buddy, so follow our tips below and you and your dog will soon be bestie running companions.
Don’t expect to just head out the door with your dog and start running. If your dog isn’t already leash trained and socialized with other dogs and people (not to mention, cars!), you’ll want to make this a priority.
Begin with teaching your dog to walk with you on a leash before venturing into running. Start walking and, if he stays with you, reward him with a treat every few minutes. If he tries to pull away from you or puts any kind of strain on the leash, stop walking.
When running together, you’ll want to avoid a taut leash. The leash should be long enough to hang loose (but not trip you!). Go with a hands-free style that ties at your waist because retractable options can tangle or let your dog to run too far away from you.
Get Clearance from the Vet
Once your dog is walking nicely by your side, you're almost ready to go out on your first run. But check with your vet first to make sure your dog is up for the physical challenges of running. Your dog's physical abilities will depend on factors such as his breed, age and fitness level.
Generally speaking, dogs younger than one year should not be taken on runs because, since their bones and ligaments are still growing at a rapid pace, strenuous exercise can make them more prone to injury. If your dog is older, you’ll want the vet to give him clearance that he’s in good health and can handle running.
Bring Essential Items
Bring enough water for two, as well as a supply of dog treats that can be used as a reward for good behavior. Always have a cell phone handy in case of emergencies and bring poop bags in the event your dog needs to go (although you’ll want to try your best to avoid this by having your dog go before your run!).
Start Out Slow
Start with a route that’s familiar and away from heavy traffic (both foot traffic and road traffic). Also avoid routes with dangers such as hot asphalt and broken glass.
Even if you’re an avid runner or very athletic, you’ll want to be patient with your pup and give him ample time to get up to speed. Warm up with an easy stroll, then build up to a light jog for 10 to 15 minutes and incorporate a cool down at the end.
If your dog completes the run without getting out of breath or needing to sit down, try adding five more minutes every week. Start with three times a week and add in more runs as you and your dog get into a regular running rhythm.
Pay Attention to How Your Dog is Doing
Throughout your runs, always pay attention to your dog’s body language to watch for signs that he needs a break. If he's lagging behind or panting heavily, it may be time to stop. Also, be sure to provide your dog with plenty of water.
After your run, check and clean paws to remove dirt, road salt and anything else he may have picked up on the run.
Create a Training Plan
Once your dog is running either by your side or in front of you without any issues, you can make running with your dog a regular activity by either starting a new training program or including your dog in an already existing running program. Get into the habit of running together every other day and add minutes and miles each week to reach your goals.
Running with a dog can be a fun and rewarding experience. When you take the time to learn how to run with your dog, you’ll enjoy spending quality time together while doing an activity that keeps both of you fit and healthy!