Spring ushers in race season, and is also the time many of us give up on our New Year’s resolutions. Signing up for a 5K race can give you the extra push you need to stay strong—and it’s even better if it means you get to spend extra time with your dog. From Denver to Philadelphia to Seattle, “furry 5Ks” and other dog-friendly races are booming in popularity.Walk, jog, sprint: these races are great for everyone, at any fitness level. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites, along with some tried-and-true tips from a dog fitness expert on how to make a furry race a successful experience for you and your dog.
Getting Ready to Race
Training isn’t just for us two-legged parents, it’s for the dogs, too! Don’t just show up on the day of the walk or race and expect your dog to behave perfectly, especially if they’ve never been in that environment before.
Dawn Celapino teaches people how to workout with their dogs all the time. She leads dog fitness classes in San Diego for her business Leash Your Fitness and says to get ready for any big event, it’s important to work on running or walking with your dog in a crowd.
“It is different when you are just walking alone on a sidewalk and when you have a dog surrounded by strollers, other dogs, and other people, including kids,” Celapino says. “They have to be comfortable in that environment.”
Here’s what Celapino suggests when prepping for a walk or race:
- Go to crowded places and see how your dog behaves. Practice in this setting until your dog is comfortable being around a lot of people and loud, strange noises.
- Work on basic obedience like heel so your dog is used to running or walking next to you, not charging ahead. Keep your dog as close to you as possible.
- Teach your dog to walk on a standard flat leash, not a retractable leash. Keep a 6-foot leash and have control. Your dog should not be pulling or straining at the leash.
- Try a harness if your dog pulls. “If your dog is a puller, a harness will not hurt his neck,” Celapino says. “A front harness works best.”
- Get your dog up-to-date on vaccinations, which is required at all events.
Keep your dog’s safety in mind, too. If your dog starts to pant or slow down, take a break. Stop in the shade or walk instead of
“I would also see what the weather is, and make sure it’s cool enough for your dog to safely run that distance,” Celapino suggests. “Remember that dogs don’t sweat, they pant to release heat and if they get overheated, they will go into heat stroke.”
Be sure to have plenty of water for your dog—don’t rely on race organizers for this! Portable water dispensers work great. And of course, don’t forget those poop bags.
With these tips in mind, let’s get to the races! We’re highlighting some upcoming pawsome runs around the country.
Furry 5K—Seattle, Washington
We love races that benefit dog-related causes, and the Furry 5K in Seattle is a major fundraiser benefiting the Seattle Animal Shelter’s Help The Animals Fund. You can walk or run the 3.1 miles—race organizers suggest puppies walk instead of run. Don’t have a furry friend? No problem! Meet adoptable dogs from the shelter and local rescue groups.
Doggie Dash—Portland, Oregon
Walk, run, be a hero! That’s the motto of this year’s Doggie Dash in Portland benefiting the Oregon Humane Society. This event’s ambitious goal to raise $600,000 offers individual prizes for fundraising milestones—including Doggie Dash gear, a stay at a dog-friendly hotel, gift cards, and even an iPad. There are two courses to choose from—a 1.5 and 2.5 mile walk/run—and complimentary food and drinks. What fun.
Doggone Fun Run—Houston, Texas
The Doggone Fun Run in Sugar Land, Texas—a suburb of Houston—benefits dogs and kids alike. Fort Bend Cares, which helps disadvantaged children, and the no-kill rescue group Fort Bend Pets Alive both benefit from the race proceeds. Walk or run, there are plenty of courses to choose from—a 1 mile, a 5K “Fun Run,” and a competitive 5K race for the more serious runners. The first 250 people to register get a t-shirt; dog bandanas are available while supplies last! A portion of event proceeds benefit the no-kill rescue group Fort Bend Pets Alive.
The Fast and The Furriest—Ft. Myers, Florida
Ready, set, race! If you’re a serious runner or enjoy more of a casual stroll, The Fast and The Furriest in Fort Myers has it all. A competitive 5K as well as a one-mile walk, even a virtual walk for those who can’t make it to the actual race. Make sure your dog is conditioned to the weather. Top finishers earn medals and all proceeds benefit the Gulf Coast Humane Society’s mission to find forever homes for dogs in Southwest Florida.
Furry Scurry—Denver, Colorado
They may have a silly name but the Dumb Friends League is raising big bucks for a good cause with their Furry Scurry in Denver. Last year’s event helped the group care for 20,000 homeless animals and this year’s goal—a cool $1 million.
Furry Scurry participants enjoy a leisurely walk, great food, and contests. They can browse 150 pet-related sponsors and vendors at the “Flea-less Market.” There are lots of cool prizes for hitting fundraising milestones and plenty of entertainment—the Colorado Disc Dogs will be on hand to show off their skills.
The Rescue Run—Philadelphia
There’s no better workout partner than your furry friend and The Monster Milers know that first-hand! The rescue group’s volunteers take dogs in Philadelphia shelters and foster care on runs while they await adoption. They started The Rescue Run to connect runners with four-legged partners. This award-winning race offers gift certificates for top runners, schwag for participants, adoptable dogs, and some of Philly’s best food trucks—cheese steak, anyone?
The Dog Jog—Atlanta, Georgia
Talk about a run—The Dog Jog in Atlanta is nearing its 30th year of racing! Whether you participate in the one mile or 5K course, you’ll get a free t-shirt with your registration fee. Proceeds go to VetHeart of Georgia, a group that makes quality healthcare accessible to all pets, especially to those who might not be able to afford it.
The Bottom Line
Fun runs with our dogs are a great way to get moving, bond with our furry friends, and help a great cause. Don’t see a furry 5K near you? Iron Doggy has a list of additional dog-friendly runs around the U.S. and abroad.