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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
This post was first published in August 2018 and was updated in February 2020.
When I first began running with my dog, it was out of necessity. Zowie’s energy could not be fully expended in any normal, leashed walk. He and I would get back from a four-mile trek, and as soon as the leash was off, so was he—running frantic laps all around the house.
Taking up running wasn’t my first inclination—it has never been my first choice for exercise. But after doing some research on how to run with my dog, running became more fun. When you’ve got your dog by your side, the miles seem to go by a little quicker, and with a lot more mutual enjoyment.
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. (See some of our tips for running with your dog in the winter.)
- 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. (See our ideas for protecting those paws.)
A little specialty dog running gear can make both the training and the jogs themselves safer and much more enjoyable for you and your dog. If you’re in the market for leashes, belts, visibility aids, paw protectors, poop bags, or water bottles, check out our favorites below.
The Best Dog Running Gear
This belt and 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? Soft 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.Shop on Amazon
No, not just any belt: One belt to rule them all! If it’s necessary to have both hands free to hold a leash and control your dog while you run, a running belt is a perfect place to store your phone, poop bags, keys, and any other small essentials.
If you’re not comfortable with using the hands-free leash (and not everyone is ready to start using one right off the bat), this is a great option to help carry all the little accessories while keeping a tighter leash on your dog, especially during the aforementioned bunny season.
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.Shop on Amazon
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.
This harness has reflective stitching and trim, and is padded to keep your dog comfortable. A benefit to a harness is that it spreads the pressure out across the dog’s chest and can help with excessive pulling.
I’ve found harnesses to be great training aids if you are just getting started with your running.Shop on Amazon
Visibility is very important, particularly if your schedule makes it easiest to run before or after work, when daylight is limited. If you need more than just reflective fabric, look no further than this light-up harness, the subject of much conversation in my neighborhood.
Whenever we bump into a neighbor on the road while running in the dark, they comment on how awesome 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. And you just can’t beat that. (And if you love it, they also make a human version. Just sayin’.)Find on Amazon
Designed to be breathable, waterproof, and lightweight, these anti-slip and reflective dog shoes will keep your dog’s paws safe while you pound the pavement.
A word of caution: not all dogs love these. At the first go, you’ll probably get a pup practicing his prancing as he gets used to the feel. But, if you are doing a lot of pavement running where your dog is exposed to the heat (in the summer) or the cold and ice (check out a winter version), these paw protectors can be a lifesaver. Just be sure to let your dog get used to them before you head out for a run.Find on Amazon
I personally love these stainless steel dog water bottles. They are portable and have a leaf-shaped silicone bowl that folds out for easy use. My dog loves to drink running water, so this gives the running water “feel” with little waste. Water is important all times of year, but particularly in warmer weather. If you’d prefer a belt option, see our next recommendation for a good option.Shop on Amazon
Does this remind you of the belts that marathoners wear? That’s because it’s the same general idea—a comfortable way for a runner to carry water, except this water is for your hound.
It comes with a couple of added accessories, like the option to have a hands-free leash with a quick release. The belt itself is designed to be comfortable for you, distributing the weight across your hips.
And of course, make use of this belt for everything else you want to carry—keys, phone, and of course, poop bags (which are coming up!)Find on Amazon
No one loves poop patrol, but it just comes with the territory. Plus, it’s just plain gross to go for a walk or a run and come across someone else’s mess.
These bags make clean-up about as easy as possible, and as a bonus, they are biodegradable (and leak-proof!) These bags are designed to fit into regular dispensers, including those on dog running belts.Shop on Amazon
If you are going to spend a good amount of time outdoors in the summer sun or the winter wind, this snout soother is a great addition to your dog belt.
Dogs’ noses (especially ones that are naturally pink or light in color) can be sensitive to the sun and can be prone to windburn. This soother is great as a preventative or as a treatment, and is people safe too!Shop on Amazon
If you choose to use a dog coat, the type that you choose will be very much dependent on dog and climate.
When I’m looking for a coat, I look for something practical that will work with my dog’s natural coat (short or long), size (is his belly near to the ground, or not-so-near to the ground?), and the season.
For dogs who are closer to the ground, expect them to kick up a decent amount of dirt or water onto their coats during their run. If that’s the case, you may want to consider a coat like this that protects their belly from that water and keeps them protected from wind and chill. This coat has reflective fabrics, a custom hole for the leash to clip, and protects a dog from the weather.Find on Amazon
However you accessorize, the most important thing is that you take the opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors with your dog. You’ll be happy that you did and you will love the bond that exercising with your dog helps to build.
Interested in reading more? Check out some more great resources all things exercising with your dog: