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.