When I first began running with my dog it was out of necessity—Zowie’s energy could not be expended in any sedate, walk on a lead. He and I would get back from a 4-mile trek and as soon as the lead 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:
- Check with your vet to make sure your dog is healthy enough to start a running programme.
- 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 + lead 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 lead for my dog and myself were:
- Comfortable waist belt with pockets to hold my phone, keys, water, and poop bags
- Sturdy enough to keep my dog attached to me
- 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 lead with the padding.
This one doesn’t come cheap but there are many other options with similar features that are more affordable.
If it’s necessary to have both hands free to hold a lead 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 area, there is no chance I’d run with my 34-kilo (75lbs) 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.
If you’re going to take your dog for a run in low-light conditions, make sure that both you and your dog are highly visible. A reflective, comfortable harness should do the trick.
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 neighbour on the road while running in the dark, they comment on how excellent it is. People up the street can see us coming when Zowie is all lit up. Plus, the rotating colour option makes us look like a traveling disco party. You can’t beat that.
Designed to be both breathable and sturdy, these anti-slip, all-terrain dog shoes will keep your dog’s paws safe while you pound the pavement or any other terrain.
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. Check out or article on how to protect your dog’s paws during winter.
Looking for more options? There are tons of shoes to choose from.
I’m lucky that when I run in my area, 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.
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.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting a running habit with your dog, there’s nothing like reaching a goal with your best friend, so if you think your dog might like running, give it a try!
Featured image: Ruffwear