On The Run

8 Important Tips For Running With Your Dog

Running with your dog has numerous physical and mental health benefits for both of you. You both get to exercise and in between all your work, family and social commitments, it’s a perfect way of spending quality time together. I asked Jessie from The Right Fits blog what she loves about running with her gorgeous dogs Matilda and Ruth and she said, “I love that even when I’m not feeling all that excited to go for a run, Ruth will see her running leash and start bouncing up and down with excitement about the idea of a run! She helps to remind me that running is a privilege and a joy – and it’s supposed to be fun! It’s a reminder of the pure joy of the fresh air! It doesn’t matter what pace or distance, we are running!”. Although her dogs are happy about the extra treats they get, Jessie says they mostly enjoy the time they spend with her on the run.

But running with your dog also comes with some responsibility. So I’m pleased to have my veterinarian (and husband) Dr Ditiro Coyne blogging today on a subject that is close to his heart. Trained at Murdoch University in Western Australia, Ditiro has been practising vet medicine for over 14 years. Although he sees a variety of cases, he particularly enjoys orthopaedic surgery and managing cardiac patients. He works at the Gaborone Veterinary Clinic which is a mixed-practice established in 1982 and is the oldest private veterinary clinic in Gaborone. As a keen runner himself, he is a big advocate for people running with their dogs but he has also seen a worryingly high number of cases involving dogs who have overexerted themselves on the run, leading to serious complications and sometimes, even death. So today he is taking over the blog and sharing some important tips for running with your dog!

Our Gorgeous Sadie, 2007 – 2018

1/ Consider Your Dog’s Health, Build, Breed And Age. It goes without saying that a dog needs to be fit and healthy in order to run with you. However, a number of other factors also play a role in determining whether your dog is a suitable running partner. I have a Basset Hound and although he loves his walks, I won’t be taking him running any time soon. His short legs make it difficult for him to maintain a good running pace. Some large breeds like Labradors and Boerboels are prone to health issues like hip and elbow dysplasia and can develop arthritis which may make running uncomfortable. Dobermans are predisposed to heart disease and should be cleared by your Vet before starting a vigorous exercise regime. For brachycephalic dogs (e.g. chihuahuas, bulldogs, pugs) running may not be easy as their narrowed nostrils and partially obstructed airways make breathing difficult. Age is another consideration. Older dogs may have numerous sub-clinical problems and puppies need to wait for their joints and bones to be fully formed before they start running. This is a general guide so I would say let your Vet give your dog a physical exam and together you can determine what’s best given all these factors.

2/ Teach Your Dog Some Basic Commands. I would say the most important commands when you’re out for a run with your dog are “Sit” or “Stay” (particularly important when crossing roads or intersections) as well as “Leave It” (when your dog spots tempting items like rubbish, roadkill or any other smelly deliciousness!). It is also important to train your dog to stay by your side (stick to one side) when running which ensures both of you are comfortable and safe on the run.

3/ Ease Into It. Just as a person who hasn’t exercised in a while shouldn’t go from couch to 5K in one day, the same applies to a dog. It is really important to ease your dog into running using a step-by-step approach that increases slowly in terms of mileage or time. A Couch-To-5K plan works well as it combines walking with light jogging until your dog is safely able to sustain a jog. Starting out this way prevents unnecessary injury and gives you the opportunity to teach your dog “road manners” thereby increasing your enjoyment when you run longer together.

8/ Inspect Your Dog. When you’re back home from your run, check for ticks, suspicious bites, cuts or other injuries, especially under their paws. Keep an eye on their temperament. If you notice anything strange, call your Vet. Also, in the days following your run, watch for any stiffness (slow to get up) or discomfort before going for another run. Keeping a log book with days and distances run is also useful information to share with your Vet should the need arise.

Thank you Ditiro for sharing these important tips with us and thank you to Jessie for sharing what you love about running with Matilda and Ruth! Running with your dog can be such a rewarding experience for both of you. But before putting on that leash, be sure to consider these tips so you have a safe, happy, healthy and long running relationship with your dog!

Do you run with your dog? What do you love most about running with your dog? What does your dog love about running? What other tips do you have for running with your dog?

I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By MileCoach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerRuns with PugsRunning on Happy and Organic Runner Mum! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.

50 thoughts on “8 Important Tips For Running With Your Dog

  1. I’m so glad you posted this!!! Great info all dog owners need to be aware of. When we first got Max (gosh, 5-1/2 years ago!), I had so many people warming me that he may not be suitable for running with me…and that was never our objective in rescuing him and bringing him home with us. That said, Max has a crazy amount of energy, and loves tearing around. He has a long torso, though, and pretty short legs. Although he ‘s a great walking companion, I know running (at least with his long-legged mom LOL) would not be a good idea. And I’m totally fine with that ;-).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kim! I’m so glad he wrote this too – Ditiro always says that so many of the cases he sees stem from people just not being aware of these issues.

      Max’s short legs + your long legs – yes, not the best combination, LOL! But so glad Max is a great walking companion.

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  2. I don’t think I remembered your husband is a vet or maybe you never told us? Great tips!

    I used to run with Bandit. He seemed to enjoy it, until he didn’t (he’s almost 12 now). I didn’t really enjoy it, I have to admit, because boy dogs? They never run out of pee to mark. 🙂

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    1. Haha, that’s boy dogs for you! LOL. Our dogs are all very old now – we joke that our home is now a geriatric centre! Our oldest Coco is now 16. Our kitten has definitely added a lot of excitement to the household. I’ve never run with a dog – when Sadie was in her prime I wasn’t a runner so I never got the chance to run with her. Seriously considering that my next dog should be a runner.

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      1. Lola is 14 & Bandit’s around 12. Maybe if I’d had Bandit from a puppy and had been able to train him it would have been different — he was 8 years old when we adopted him. He did really love it for a while.

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  3. I don’t have a dog so there are many things here I have never thought about!

    I would never have considered that dogs need a warmup or need to ease into running like humans. But it makes total sense!

    I do see some owners on their bikes while the dogs are panting along beside them. That worries me, especially when it’s hot. Fortunately, it’s not very frequent.

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  4. I don’t run with our dog b/c I know that our running schedule would be inconsistent at best and she’s getting older. She takes a lot of interest in my long runs, because she knows that she’ll get a bonus walk when I’m done. It’s good for her that she gets the extra walk, and good for me because she keeps me on the move with an active cool down instead of just crashing on the couch after my runs.

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  5. We selected breeds that were good runners so that our dogs could run with us! Rosemary is a German Shorthaired Pointer. She is 11 and only runs with my younger daughter who is slower and doesn’t run far. 😉 Sage is a Vizsla. At 6, he is in his prime and loves to run with us. Both are trained to run off-lead but my daughters always use a lead. Running with my dogs is like running with a good friend except they cannot talk! They have such a good time and are so excited to be out. I live in the Midwest, however, so the past few weeks have been relaxing for them as I won’t take them out if the temperature is above 72.

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    1. The dogs I’ve mentioned in the blog, Matilda and Ruth, are both Vizslas! What a beautiful breed! So glad Rosemary still gets to run with your daughter! When Sadie was in her prime, I wasn’t a runner and the dogs I have now are on the older side and more suitable for walking! So I’ve been thinking of getting another dog and I’m seriously considering getting a breed that is a good runner. Would love that company on the road!

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  6. I get jealous when I see other runners running with their dog. I only have a cat.

    If I did get a dog I wold definitely pick one I could run with.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such great information! I have a 115 lb German Sheppard who is a loveable handful. I love taking him for walks but have not tried running with him – I’ve been thinking about trying to start this fall since I don’t have a race to worry about training for and I could ease him into it when the temps are cooler.

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  8. What a great post! I’d love to have a dog that is well suited for running some day. Ozzy loves to run, and we do when it’s cooler, but only a mile or two, and with walk breaks. This summer has been way too hot to even think about taking him. Sadie was such a pretty girl!

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  9. I’ve almost always had a dog to run with. My older dog ran with me until she was about 10 yrs old and now my 3 yr old dog has taken over. Both are German shepherds. We don’t run in the heat and I always bring water on long runs. They have always helped motivate me to get out the door.

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  10. I’ve never run with a dog, but these are great tips! While I do think it would be nice to run with a dog for safety reasons, it seems like alot of work. Probably not more work than running with a kid though:)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. These are great tips! Scooby loves to run, and I enjoy running with him even though he mostly sets the pace and takes random “sniff” breaks. I definitely use the “leave it” command most often – whether it’s a particularly interesting squirrel or another dog.

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  12. I don’t have a dog, but I do have 2 cats and those 2 will not run with me. They prefer to sleep all day! 🙂

    I never would have thought that a dog would need a warm-up just like adults. Very interesting. Also, I was horrified to think that people would give their dogs gels and anything else besides water.

    Thank you for linking up with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, cats would be horrified at the thought of a walk! For dogs, the warm up is not so much of a muscular warm as it is for us, but more of a ritual surrounding the start of the walk. So they don’t need anywhere near as much as we do for warming up. As for giving dogs stuff, my husband sees a whole lot of weird things. 🙄

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  13. These are great tips! I run often with our lab-cattle dog mix. I do not run him in summer if it is above 70 degrees or very high humidity, because of the concern of heat stroke.

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