Running with your Dog: A Refresher Course

Ok, so yesterday the prettiest Lisa from Lisa Runs for Cupcakes (don’t you just love her already?! – my kind of girl) posted an article on running with dogs this summer on my facebook page. It reminded me that way back in the beginning days of RwS that I had done a similar post.

So since I just ran my first race with Rex I’ve decided to revisit the topic of running with your dog and post my most helpful tips for those of you that wish to start.

Ali Mc’s Tips for Running with your pooch:

  1. Let your dog slowly build up millage, just like you would train yourself. If you are already going out on 5 mile runs and fido has been on the couch for a while don’t drag him out for a 5 miler! Try taking him out for a walk and a half mile to a mile and leaving him at home while you finish your run. Prior to my injury I’d run around the block for 1-2 miles with Rex and literally toss him inside (where Colin was waiting) and keep running till I hit my assigned millage. Now we are both starting over so I take him on 90% of all my runs. 
  2. Make sure your dog’s breed is one that is designed for running. ie: don’t run your bulldog for 4 miles and expect that he could survive! Most sites I researched said that mid-sized MUTTS were the best running partners. This is because crossbreeds usually don’t have all the health issues associated with pruebreeds – for those of you wanting a running companion maybe the shelter is your best bet! Rex is from the shelter and I have no issues saying he is the best dog I have ever had in my life!
  3. Stretching and icing after a run is also important for your dog! Dogs can get knots, tight muscles, bruises and injuries too! So if you are serious about training your dog daily then I suggest you become very in-tuned with what your dog may need. Rex loves it when I stretch his legs out. He comes to lie beside me after I’m done my stretches and lets me stretch and massage his legs all over. I also ice his one front right leg because he has a tight muscle there that gives him issues with distances over 3 miles. 
  4. Be aware of weather conditions/running surface. Dogs don’t do well in heat and humidity, so run at the coolest time of the day if you live in hot climates. Another good rule is to go outside in your bare feet on the pavement and see if you can tolerate it – if you can’t, neither can your poor dog! In colder weather make sure you stop to clear your dogs feet of snow and ice chunks. After the race on Sunday, we left and didn’t stick around because it was getting too hot for Rex, by the time we got home the pavement would’ve been too hot to run with him. 
  5. Bring enough water for both of you! It may seem like an obvious one but remember your dog needs fuel and fluids too! Even if they won’t drink, pouring water over them in hot temperatures can do a world of good for them. Rex doesn’t drink too much on the fly, so I stop for water breaks  and he’ll drink half of my water bottle when we go out. He just loves to hydrate! 
  6. Don’t ever encourage, pull or force your dog to keep moving or go faster. If that it the case it’s too much for him/her. Your dog won’t ever stop trying to please you. That’s the one thing people forget. A dog will chase a ball until he collapses and won’t ever let you know he’s tired. You have to be aware of what your dog can and can’t do. I have made Rex run a bit further than he’d like to on a few runs way back when we first started running, it was the only way he learned to let me keep the pace. Now he lets me pace him and we can run a lot smoother and for longer. 
  7. Get vet clearance to make sure your dog can run. Some dogs aren’t fit for an intense workout regiment. So just like many of us had to make sure starting a new workout program was ok for us, we have to do this for our dog. Make sure you also continue to go to the vet if anything happens. Rex hurt one of his pads really bad during one of our bike rides but I totally looked after it until it healed. He also has that pulled muscle currently, which I mentioned above. 
  8. Make sure your dog is an obedient walker on a leash BEFORE you start running. I cannot stress this one enough. It’s important that you take the time to train your dog. This will enable a smooth run that is both safe and stress-free. It is also a good idea to KEEP your dog on a leash… no matter how well behaved your dog is, if they want to go, they will go! That above link will take you to a post about a run I tried to do leash free with Rex that ended horribly. So unless you’re Christy and live in the middle of nowhere – put a leash on and keep it on. 
Ali Mc’s final word of caution:
  • it’s your job to look after your pet. A dog is always willing to run and please you that they will literally run through pain, exhaustion and dehydration.

When I go for runs with Rex I am constantly reading his body language and trying to adjust my pace accordingly. I love taking him on easy recovery runs because sometimes my pace is so slow he can do a brisk walk while I’m “running” and it’s nice and worry free.

So be smart and enjoy years of running with your dog!

If you want to check out some other blogs that run with their dogs I’ve listed them below:

*If anyone else regularly runs with their canine’s please feel free to leave your info and link up below in the comments!

I also just want to add that running with puppies is an entirely different ball game and that puppyhood is better spent training and fine tuning than running 😉 



1. what’s a tip you’d add to the list?? 

I could go on and on regarding this issue but I didn’t want to go off on a tangent. However – TRAINING is key! I don’t let Rex pee, sniff the ground, or do anything with me on walks or runs without my “ok” My biggest advice is – master the walk and the run will be a breeze. 

2. running with dogs – yay or nay? why?

Yay within reason. I don’t think dogs were designed for super long distances. More of sprinters. 

3. what’s your workout today?

I have no clue. Calendars and a walk with Logan and Rex most likely. 


19 thoughts on “Running with your Dog: A Refresher Course

  1. I agree running with dogs are fine if they are trained.
    When I am out running and I see people running with their dogs and I know that their dogs are not trained properly it irrates me.
    For exercise today, running tonight!

  2. Big yay! I love your finishing photo with Rex too, it’s great! I think it’s very easy to determine a dog’s ability and threshold. I have the spectrum in this house from the non-runner to the short distance to the long distance runner. Paying attention to them and their cues like you mention is key along with having some basic common sense! I can’t let my dogs off leash either but they do well on leash. I run with some people who let theirs off leash on trails and she can go for hours and hours with us, just depends on the dog!

  3. These posts make me wish I had a dog to run with! The only problem is “running” dogs tend to be big and well, you know how “big” I am… it doesn’t og over so well! hahaha

    Today’s workout- 45 minutes of private tumbling and our first 2 hour cheerleading practice of the season!

  4. One time I took my lab on a run and it was pretty hot out. Apparently she wasn’t one of those “Please my owner” types you described above because she decided she was done running and laid down right in the middle of the path. This is 90 lbs. of dog in the middle of a trail so I couldn’t even drive my car to come back and get her. So I waited, and waited, and waited. She finally got up and we walked the whole way back. I had to just laugh:)

  5. You know I love running with my dog Sandy. Had a three mile run scheduled for this morning but my shin has been hurting since my run on Monday so I decided to give it one more day of rest. Sandy was still pretty tired at 5am this morning too from swimming a lot yesterday so that cemented my decision to sleep in. :)
    Also, I agree, shelter pets are the BEST! Don’t shop, ADOPT!
    (sorry, had to plug shelter pets :))

  6. hmmm. i guess my dogs are not considered a good size for running. its crazy though because Riley is super athletic and i swear she is never tired. she seems to love running with me. i havent run her as much now that i have 2 dogs so she isnt in as good of shape as she used to be but i definitely used to be sure to build her up slowly in mileage. now i look forward to just walks with the both of them:)

    • It isn’t the size so much as it’s the breed! the example of the bulldog for instance is more so because of his short stalky build and the flat face – which makes breathing more difficult. 😉

      I just read the Riley recaps and loved them!

  7. Aww thanks for the shout out. Cola is a stock dog and he has been great on runs up to 23 miles. and even has energy to chase cats and deer at the end of it. I worried about it at first but he has done nearly every run with me since he was 6 months old, so he is in great shape.
    When I was younger we would take our cow dogs out on all day rides moving cows and they never seemed to tire. Amazing hard working dogs.

    Great post!

  8. I do not have a dog that I could run with, but I totally wish I could get one know! Love that you posted about running with Rex. I will keep this post bookmarked just in case I come across anyone that mentions wanting to do this, thanks!

  9. This is seriously SUCH A GREAT POST!! I am bookmarking it right now. I made the huge mistake of taking my dog running in the dog days of Summer (we’re talking 90+ degrees) last year and I still feel guilty about it. I really do not know what I was thinking but my dog would not run for 6 months afterwards. :(

    Thanks so so much for these tips Ali!

  10. Toby has already started training with me. We do intervals – run for a while then walk when he’s tired. The running part would be less than 100m but he’s only little and usually the bird we’re chasing has gotten out of reach by then.

  11. I just ran my first “run” with the foster pup I took in. Yes I cant believe I took in a foster. We started our run out really well, but I can tell she wasnt leash trained and I let her lead the run. There were too many factors that spooked her so we ended up walking a mile. I was happy with it because I know she is getting the exercise she cant get in the apartment and hopefully on our next run, I can promote her status.

    Love your tips. They are so helpful

  12. Yay for running with dogs. You’re right about breed and size. I have pit bull mix and he’s perfect for running with. I even got a 5K PR running barefoot with him! he pulled me along to a 28 min finish shoeless! I credit him for dragging me :) My most peaceful runs are with him by my side.

  13. I feel guilty running without my dog…she’s a breed built to be runner, so it seems cruel to go without her. But, sometimes it’s annoying having to carry her leash, and of course, her poo if she poos on the run and there are no trash cans nearby.

    Your tip about not dragging your dog along cracked me up, just because my dog is so high energy and fast, I can’t imagine her slowing me down!

  14. I enjoy running with Lucky and Sasha both but I don’t do it as often as I’d like to. I spend too much time being concerned about them and making sure they are ok and don’t worry about my pace at all. If I’m running on the farm it’s a totally different story since we run back and forth across the pasture and they get to run free and hop in the creek as they wish. Lucky and I have been logging more miles lately. He’s a long distance runner at heart like me!

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