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Running with your dog is an excellent bonding experience with physical and mental health benefits. Like you, dogs need daily exercise, and some high-energy breeds prefer running instead of walking. Additionally, your dog can help keep you active throughout your life.
However, if you want your dog to be your running buddy, you’ll need to invest time and energy into training them and ensure they’re healthy enough to run long distances. Every dog is different, so how quickly you can get them up to speed will depend on their training foundation. For example, do they already know how to walk on a leash?
Regardless of your pet’s current experience, this article will discuss everything you need to know about how to train your dog to run with you.
- Ensure Your Dog Is The Right Breed And Age
- Talk To Your Vet
- Teach Your Dog The Basics
- Practice Walking First
- Take The Necessary Safety Precautions
- Get The Proper Gear
- Teaching Your Dog To Run With You: FAQs
- Final Notes
1. Ensure Your Dog Is The Right Breed And Age
The first step in learning how to teach your dog to run with you is ensuring they can safely become your running companion. Some dogs are not suited for long-distance running. For example, dogs with short snouts, also known as brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs and Boston Terriers, should not run long distances because it can affect their breathing ability.1
Additionally, running long distances isn’t safe for puppies who are still growing and developing. Therefore, you should wait until your dog is an adult before they partake in the running. We recommend waiting until your dog is around 1.5 to 2 years old.1 However, during this time, you should work on leash training to ensure they know how to walk on a leash before running.
Several breeds make great running dogs, including Weimaraners, Doberman Pinschers, Russel Terriers, Border Collies, and Golden Retrievers. However, every dog is different. Some breeds are more challenging to train than others, so it’s essential to learn as much as possible about your dog’s breed to determine whether they'll make an excellent running partner. High-energy and working breeds may require more comprehensive training to ensure they don’t try to pull you across the street to catch a squirrel.
2. Talk To Your Vet
It’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before significantly changing your dog's health routine, such as switching foods or increasing their physical activity. Some dogs shouldn’t run long distances due to medical conditions. For example, senior dogs with arthritis can benefit from increased physical activity, but running may be too hard on their joints.
3. Teach Your Dog The Basics
All dogs need to know the basics before they can learn to become your running partner. If you’re trying to learn how to train your dog to run with you, you can’t just skip to the end. Instead, you must work on leash training, exposure, and cues.
Before your dog can start running, it must learn how to walk on a leash. If your dog isn’t properly leash trained, it may try to dart ahead of you, cross in front of you, or react negatively to strangers and other pets you pass on your trails. When walking and running with your dog, the leash should have slack in it.1 Dogs should never pull the leash or walk in front of you because it can be dangerous for both of you. Instead, your dog should know how to walk next to you on a loose leash.
Keeping your dog on one side is crucial for walking and running because it means they won’t step in front of you.1 If your dog isn’t trained to walk on a leash, we recommend starting inside with as few distractions as possible and using reward-based training to help them learn which side they should walk on. Once you’ve practiced a few times, take it outside.
Don’t be surprised if your dog goes from an A+ student inside to a D student outside. Your dog has a strong sense of smell, and everything outside is exciting. Therefore, we recommend walking back and forth with your dog, keeping them on one side and rewarding them for good behavior. Training your dog to walk correctly on a leash can take weeks or even months, so try not to get frustrated.
Exposure is crucial for dogs because it teaches them to be confident in new environments, people, and pets. Unfortunately, dogs who aren’t introduced to new people and pets at a young age can become fearful or aggressive because they’re afraid. Luckily, you can start socializing your puppy from a young age.
However, exposure gets much more difficult the older they get, especially if they have anxiety. Lack of exposure makes for a dangerous situation for you, your dog, and others.
Therefore, socialization is crucial if you want your dog to become an excellent running partner if you plan to run in populated areas where you will see other people and dogs. You can contact your vet if you’re unsure how to expose your dog to new elements.
Pet parents can teach their dogs several cues over their lives, such as sit, stay, and roll over. There are several cues that can help them be a better running companion. After you’ve laid the proper training foundation and your dog can walk on a leash, you can teach them heel and other essential commands.
Teaching a dog to heel will help them walk next to you if they get ahead on a walk. The heel command is ideal for walking and running and can keep your dog out of dangerous situations. For example, normal dog park behavior, such as playing, running, and jumping, can turn aggressive and dangerous for your dog. Knowing the heel command will teach your pet to join you at your side in any situation.
Other cues to prepare your dog for running include “stop” and “let’s go.” For example, you can use the stop command when entering a crosswalk to tell your dog to wait and use the go command to tell your dog to pick up the pace. There’s no limit to the types of commands you can use with your dog. The most important thing is that you stay consistent to help them learn faster.
4. Practice Walking First
While your dog may love running around in the backyard or getting the zoomies when they’re excited, long-distance running requires endurance. Some dogs are natural sprinters, while others seem like they can run for hours. However, most dogs don’t have the endurance to run long distances when they first start. If you want to train your dog to run with you, you’ll need to help them build their endurance.1
You can start by walking longer or faster to get your dog in shape. Continue to monitor them throughout their walks to ensure they can keep up with you. If your dog starts slowing down, consider shortening your walks until they’ve built enough endurance to start running.
5. Take The Necessary Safety Precautions
While many dogs love to run, running can be dangerous if you don’t take the necessary safety precautions. A few things to consider include the following:
- The weather: Always consider the weather before taking your dog for a run. All dogs are different; some thrive in colder climates, while others have short fur and can’t safely stay outside in the cold for more than a few minutes. You should never run with your dog in extremely hot or cold temperatures, so you might have to change the time of day you go for a run or find other activities you can enjoy together.
- Monitoring your dog: Always check in with your dog during the run. Even though you might be comfortable, they might not be. For example, during the summer, dogs can get overheated quickly, especially while engaging in physical activity, causing heat stroke and dehydration. You know your dog best, so it’s essential to consider their well-being while running and be prepared to end the run early.
- Warm-up and cool down: Always warm up and cool down together by walking for several minutes to prevent injuries, such as muscle strain.1 Warming up your dog by walking also allows them to take potty breaks.
- Carry water: Like humans, dogs need proper hydration for a run. You should carry water and a collapsible bowl and take breaks every so often to prevent dehydration.
- Watch for signs of exhaustion: Monitoring your dog can prevent exhaustion from affecting their breathing ability. If your dog needs to stop, let them take a breath.
6. Get The Proper Gear
If you want to learn how to teach a dog to run with you, you need the right equipment to ensure their safety. Here are a few pieces of gear to include in your training and running pack:
- Collar with ID tag: Any time your dog leaves the house, they should wear a collar with an ID tag on it in case they get lost.
- Harness: A harness is a great option for dogs, especially those that pull. Harnesses are considered safer because they won’t choke your dog if they pull too far away from you, but if you’ve invested in training your dog how to walk on a leash, harnesses aren’t necessary. Instead, you can attach the leash to the collar, still, a harness may be recommended as a collar could slip over the head. We recommend getting a reflective harness or vest if you choose to run at night.
- Leash: Avoid using retractable leashes because they can easily slip out of your hands, especially when sweaty.
- Waste bags: Always pick up after your pet. Since running can speed up their metabolism, don’t be surprised if they have to take a break while on the run.
- Water: Water will prevent dangerous dehydration and heat stroke. Always carry water and a collapsible bowl to refresh and rehydrate your dog on long runs.
In addition to the gear you need to walk your pet safely, we recommend having them microchipped as an extra precaution in case they get lost. Additionally, you should use heartworm, tick, and flea prevention medication year-round to control the spread of Lyme disease and other diseases.
Teaching Your Dog To Run With You: FAQs
What are the benefits of running with a dog?
Dogs are companion animals, so they make great running partners. Running together benefits your and their physical health and can improve their overall well-being and social skills. Additionally, running can help tire a high-energy dog out to prevent destructive behavior and anxiety. Dogs get bored at home, and running outside with you can provide physical and mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
How old should my dog be to run with me?
You shouldn’t run with puppies because they’re still developing and more prone to injury. Instead, we recommend waiting until your dog is fully grown. In addition to your dog’s age, you should consider its overall health. For example, many senior dogs can still run and enjoy themselves, but they’re predisposed to joint injuries, so you may have to shorten your runs when your dog gets older.
Is it okay to run daily with my dog?
Running daily is okay for most healthy adult dogs and can provide health benefits. High-energy breeds need daily exercise, and a simple walk around the block isn’t enough for them. Therefore, some pups may require daily runs to keep them healthy and content. Of course, you should check with a vet before running with your dog to ensure they’re healthy enough and running won’t pose any risks.
Learning how to get your dog to run with you takes time, especially if you haven’t yet laid the proper foundation with training. Every dog should be socialized, know basic commands, and learn how to walk on a leash before you try to run with them. If you’re unsure how to train your dog, you can hire a professional dog trainer to help you learn the basics.
Of course, before you start running with your dog, always consult a vet. A Dutch vet can help you determine if it’s safe for your dog to run based on their age, breed, and health. Try Dutch today.
Stephanie Gibeault, MSc. “How to Train Your Dog to Run with You: Running with Dogs Tips & Tricks.” American Kennel Club, 12 Apr. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-train-your-dog-to-run-with-you/.