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When I first began running with my dog it was out of necessity—Zowie’s energy could not be expended in any sedate, leashed walk. He and I would get back from a 4-mile trek and as soon as the leash was off, off he’d go—running frantic laps all around the house.
Taking up running wasn’t a matter of course for me, it has never been my first choice for exercise. But after doing some research on how to safely train my dog to be a confident jogging partner, running became more fun. When you’ve got your dog by your side, the miles seem to fade away a little quicker.
A few tips before you hit the road:
- Be sure to check with your vet to be sure your dog is healthy enough to start a running program.
- Consider the temperature. Running in the extreme heat or cold could be dangerous to your dog’s health, even if they are cleared by the vet to run.
- Carry water and take shade breaks to keep your dog both hydrated and at a healthy temperature. Remember that they are covered in fur and (if unprotected) that their paws are directly on the hot ground.
A little specialty gear can make both the training and the jogs themselves much more enjoyable.
This belt + leash combo had every feature that I knew I needed, plus one extra I was ecstatic about when bunny season hit. Top priorities when purchasing a hands-free running leash for my dog and myself were:
- Comfortable waist belt with pockets to hold my phone, ID, keys, water, and poop bags
- Sturdy enough to keep my dog leashed
- Flexible: allowing my dog leeway to speed up or slow down without breaking my stride
That extra that I didn’t even know I wanted? Neoprene handles. Believe me when I tell you that when your dog catches sight of a bunny up ahead and starts to bolt after it, you are going to be happy, happy, happy that you chose a leash with the padding.
“This dog walking belt is truly hands free with 2 D-ring options for 2+ dogs on the belt. The front pouch is sized well enough to fit a Galaxy Note 8 phone with NO issues and still plenty of spare room. The right side pouch can hold multiple things like poop bags or treats and the water carrier is very sturdy and holds my bottle well with the 2 elastic loops.”
If it’s necessary to have both hands free to hold a leash and control your dog while you run, a running belt is the perfect place to store your phone, poop bags, keys, and any other small essentials. Once it became clear that the bunnies are plentiful in my neighborhood, there is no chance I’d run with my 75-pound mix attached to just my waist.
I like this no-nonsense Flip Belt for short runs because it is comfortable with no fussy clips or straps, but many others come equipped with water bottles, and that may be just what you’re looking for.
“I bought this to replace an arm band (it would slide down my arm as I ran) and then a fanny pack (it would bounce all over the place and I had to constantly tighten the strap mid run), both of which I hated because they required too much adjusting as I was running. The Flip Belt DOES NOT move. It is tight and stretchy, just as advertised.”
If you’re going to take your dog for a run in low-light conditions, be sure that both you and your dog are highly visible. A reflective, comfortable harness should do the trick.
“I love this harness! Best part of it is so does my dog! I have been looking for a harness to use when running with my dog and this works great! No rubbing, great attachment points and very reflective since we run before the sun comes up. I would highly recommend this product. I bought the hands free running leash to go with it and love it also!”
There is no dog accessory that I have purchased that has gotten more envious comments than our light up harness. Whenever we bump into a neighbor on the road while running in the dark, they comment on how excellent it is. People a block away can see us coming when Zowie is all lit up. Plus, the rotating color option makes us look like a traveling disco party. You can’t beat that.
“I use this every night and it is still going strong. I still get asked where to purchase all the time. This is still the best out there. Anyone walking dogs at dawn/dusk should buy. It’s worth the money for safety for you and your pet.”
Designed to be both breathable and lightweight, these anti-slip and reflective dog shoes will keep your dog’s paws safe while you pound the pavement.
“These are great for the hot Phoenix summers. They stay on much better than socks and seem to protect better. It helps if you can adjust the Velcro once your dog is standing since the foot pushes into the shoe better when they’re standing.”
If your dog is super adverse to running shoes, consider applying some Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax if you know the pavement will be too hot for those precious paws.
Looking for more options? There are tons of shoes to choose from.
I’m lucky that when I run in my neighborhood, there are plenty of generous souls who’ve placed bowls of water out for passing dogs. But when Zowie and I take our runs further afield, it’s necessary to bring along a little water for the both of us to stay hydrated.
This bottle is great because it clips onto whatever belt or clothing you choose to wear on your run. Looking for more choices? We have an article dedicated to dog water bottles.
“This is super cool! Used it for several long run races, especially as a complement to on-course hydration. Make sure you try it on with several outfits. The waist has to be pretty snug for the buddy to fit without moving up and down. I clip it to my flip belt and through it to the running shorts or pants. Works perfectly.”
If you’re bringing along water, make sure you’ve clipped on a small bowl to pour the water into or have a dog water bottle with a built-in reservoir. I like a tiny bowl, but my dog will drink out of anything when he’s thirsty. You’ll need to experiment to see which size works best for you and your dog.
“Absolutely love these bowls! I just got a new puppy about 3 weeks ago and plan to do a lot of traveling with her. I just took her on a week long trip from AZ to NY & it wouldn’t have gone nearly as smooth if I hadn’t had these bowls! I just hooked them on the side of her carrier purse & she has food & water where ever we go! I love that you can extend/collapse individual parts to either make it larger or smaller also.”
If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting a running habit with your dog, our article about one dog parent’s running experience might help give you some ideas on how to get started. Your best friend will thank you!