A Beginners Guide To Start Running With Your Dog
Nothing beats finishing an epic run with your best friend. Peering down at the world from the peek of a mountain. Witnessing the cold air circling through your chest as your soul absorbs the penetrating twilight. You pass an intimate star flushed gaze at one another as you bask in awe and wonder.
Yes running with your dog can have its upsides, which is why many of us choose to take our dogs on a run with us.
Since the series of lockdowns hit the world, many of us have taken to the companionship of mans best friend.
If you clicked on this blog, you may be wondering if you could take your friendship to a new level and start running with your dog?
Or perhaps you already do and are looking for some pointers?
Good news! It’s not a hard as it may sound.
Running with your dog is a great way to bond and build a greater relationship. It is a great source of stimulation and exercise for you and your dogs.
Follow our proven tips on running with your dog to bring endless amounts of fun into this activity.
Which Type Of Dog Is Best For Running?
First off, you need to find out if your dog loves to run. Breed set aside, most dogs do; however, some dogs just really enjoy taking it easy. If your dog is satisfied with a gentle walk and a sniff in the grass, then dragging them out for a regular 5k will just make them miserable and they will hide every time you start lacing up your running shoes.
It’s important to note that dogs, whatever breed they are, will have different energy levels. Low, Medium and High is generally how they are graded.
Low energy will hardly need a walk, they like to sleep all day. Medium energy will enjoy a daily long walk or short runs. High energy dogs are the ones that love to run.
If you have a high energy dog, you probably already know it. They’re probably eating your couch as you read this. High energy dogs are difficult to contain in a house, the sooner you get them running the more peace you will have back in the home.
Here are some examples of breeds that would be great running companions:
Jack Russell – Tons of energy
Staffordshire Terrier – Athletic, would be a good protector.
Labrador Retriever – Water dog, loves to swim but can also run all day with perfect temperament.
Alaskan Malamute – Run for miles, only in cold weather.
Siberian Huskey – Bred to pull sleds, cold weather only.
Dalmatian – Bred to run alongside horse carriages.
Rhodesian Ridgeback – Bred to hunt lions in the desert, a fearless protector.
Weimaraner – Built for agility, speed and endurance.
German Shorthaired Pointer – Bred as a hunting dog.
Vizslar – Bred for endurance, a very popular choice.
There is a belief that sprinter dogs such as greyhounds are good running buddies, however, due to the nature of a dog that sprints they don’t like to run distances. These breeds are better off in a park playing fetch or you could take them out for some sprint intervals.
Brachycephalic (short nose) dogs are prone to breathing difficulties and don’t mix well with running. All these breeds, Pugs, French Bulldogs etc… may be best left to walks especially if its hot out.
Although our listed breeds are great runners they could be overkill if you are just planning to run the occasional park run. If you can’t keep up with the dogs pace you will feel like you are being pulled by a train which could become frustrating. However, a low energy dog, won’t ever want to get out of bed. Know your limits and pick a partner that will be most suitable.
Bigger heavier dogs could easily overpower a lightweight runner. If you choose a more powerful dog, you need to assure they are well trained to avoid any mishaps.
Once you know if your dog could be a potential running partner, talk to a vet about whether your dog is safe to do any running, especially if its older or still growing as a puppy.
ID tag – Just in case your dog goes missing. This ID should have your name and number printed on it.
Microchip – Get your dog chipped, this is another way of reuniting a lost dog with their owner. The advantage of a chip is that it will have additional information such as your address and it can’t go missing.
Dog jacket – For the winter if its cold out and you have a short haired dog, a jacket will help to keep the chilly wind off them.
Paw protectors – More for treacherous terrain when its cold and snow is around or when its overly hot, these can also protect your dogs paws from salt, sharp terrain and icy conditions.
Bell for collar – A jingle bell for your dog’s collar will allow you and others around you to hear them if you can’t see them. Either when its dark or they have just breached your line of sight.
Lights – A light up collar will give your dog better visibility.
Dog water flask – Water is super essential, never forget to take water with you! Ensure your dog is adequately hydrated before, during and after.
Backpack – Dogs with higher energy can carry their own things in their own backpack. This will however weigh the dog down and take more energy from them so it’s important to bare this in mind when running any kind of long distances.
Harness – A dog harness should not obstruct their front shoulders and should allow a full range of motion through all their joints. If you need any help in fitting a dog harness, take your dog down to your local pet store for additional help.
Go pro camera – Not essential but does add a lot of additional post run fun to see your dog’s view of the world.
Waist bag/Flip Belt – Have a backpack or waist bag each time you head out, being hands free is far more convenient and a lot more comfortable.
Poo bags – Always clean up after your dog. This is also important if your dog is in a nature reserve as dog poop can upset the development of soil.
Hands free Bungee lead – Prevents dogs from darting off, jarring the lead and hurting itself.
Human harness – Use a human harness if you have a big dog, this will give you better stability and centre of gravity. An appropriate harness will support you lower back and allow the dog to pull you forward. Once fastened, the harness shouldn’t be moving up and down or creating any chafe.
Shokz – Music can turn a good run into a great run. But you must always be aware of the environment around you. Shokz will give you the spatial awareness you need to hear where your dog is and what your dog is up to if they stop to sniff or run into a bush. It will also allow you to hear any traffic or roads nearby and keep you alert with bicycles and other trail users.
Walking To Running
Lead Training – Walk Before You Run
Before you start running, you need to have at least the basic training for walking. If you are struggling to get your dog to follow you or they don’t pay attention when you’re out on walks, considering Dog Obedience training will accelerate your progress, getting you out running in no time. That being said, if your dog is somewhat out of control on a normal walk, chances are your runs aren’t going to be much better. Once you’ve got the walking down and your dog knows to follow you, that’s when you can start to run with a bit more ease, i.e., less pulling on the lead.
Commands to know:
LEAVE IT, HEEL, STOP, GO, STEADY
Building The Distance
Dogs need to build their running legs. Start your running journey together with a constructed training programme. Just as you would train yourself, your dog needs to go through the same progressive training in the same way you did when you first started. A couch to 5k programme for example, is a great way to introduce your dog to running. Using this approach will give your dog the conditioning it needs in plenty of time.
Once you are up and running and starting to accumulate some miles between you, consider running near a river or lake so your dog can cool off if they get hot.
A dogs fur prevents them from having sweat glands like us. The sweat glands they do have are in their paws and are not as efficient, therefore, most of their body temperature is regulated by panting. Some dogs can pant up to 400 times a minute. This is a very effective way of regulating body temperature but having an additional water source nearby will allow them to cool down faster.
Over running your dog can lead to serious health problems such as heatstroke, joint issues and blistered paws. Dogs can’t tell you when they’ve had enough or are hot and tired, so you need to allow them to take a pace that is comfortable for them. Don’t pull them along trying to PB your times!
Where To Run?
Make sure you research where to run to ensure its dog friendly, steering away from unpredictable bike lanes, main roads and anywhere containing dangerous wildlife.
When running off road, try to steer away from tall grass as it may be housing snakes such as venomous Black Adders! If you are running through tall grass be sure to be upfront so you scare them away.
When you are running on a road be sure your dog is always on a lead and up in front of you so you can see them.
Dogs can have a lot of energy, running it out of them can be very beneficial for your dogs health also your own physical and mental health.
If this is something you and your dog really enjoy, consider checking out a local CaniCross group.
Enjoy the moment!
We’d love to hear from you:
Which of our top tips have you found most useful?
What type of dog do you take out on your runs?
Leave us a comment below and please share any information from your own experience.