If you’re looking for a new running partner, have you thought about your furry companion? Man’s best friend enjoys running as much as you do, so why not team up and run together.

Running with your dog can be great motivation to ensure you get your daily dose of exercise – come rain or sun, your dog needs to get out of the house for some exercise, so this makes them a perfect reminder for sticking to your training schedule.

We’ve outlined some best practices for running with your dog below. Remember if you are running with your dog, why not get rewarded for it, with our virtual running challenges!

Tips for Running with Your Dog

For recommendations on your particular dog, always seek the opinion of a vet or trained professional. To get the most out of running with your dog, you want to ensure they are comfortable at all times.

Obedience

Before you can dream of running around town or the countryside with your dog, it’s important they are well trained and obedient. Trying to run with your dog when they are out of control and not listening to you, will not only lead to a frustrating run, but it could also be dangerous if cars and other people are around.

Making sure your dog can sit and stay on command as well as not getting distracted by other people or animals will help you both get the most out of the run.

Lead Training

It’s always best to get your dog used to running with a lead. This helps you to control the situation and relax more, knowing they are tied to you.

But, running with a lead takes a bit of training and getting used to – for both the dog and you.

There are special leads that attach around your waist, freeing up your hands, which is usually preferred for runners.

You don’t want them to pull, but also don’t want them to be pulled, so it’s a fine balance of finding the perfect pace that feels comfortable for both of you.

Training your dog to run by your side means that you can match each other’s pace and avoid getting caught up in each other (which could lead to an injury).

Age and Breed

Before doing any strenuous exercise with a dog, you should wait until their bones have fully developed. This avoids injury and any potential long-term damage. Puppies can still run, but just for very short periods, ideally on soft surfaces.

After around a year, dogs should be able to handle longer runs. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean you can’t do a bit of lead training with them early, so they are comfortable and used to it before you decide to head out on runs.

Similarly, very old dogs will struggle with long runs too, so ensure your dog always looks happy and comfortable with the run.

Different breeds will be able to handle different sorts of runs, so always check with your vet or do research around your particular breed. For example, a husky will be able to handle much longer runs that a jack russell, but the jack russell may be able to run more at a younger age so it’s always worth checking.

Warm Up and Stretch

Just because you’re running with a dog, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare as normal. Wear appropriate running gear and always remember to stretch and warm-up.

Stretching before and after exercise will keep your muscles and joints supple and avoid any injuries and help aid recovery after each run.

Although dogs don’t need to stretch in the same way, little things like making sure they’ve had chance to go to the toilet before the run, will mean the dog is more focused on running as opposed to finding somewhere to stop when nature calls.

Conditions

You’ll want to keep an eye on the conditions and ensure your dog feels comfortable. Avoid very hot days or mid-day sun. Evening or early morning runs are likely to be more enjoyable for the dog (and yourself).

Similarly, in winter, if it’s very icy or snowy, this could make it slippery for the dog, leading to injury. These sorts of conditions should probably be avoided too.

Whatever the conditions, bringing water and treats with you would always be recommended. Even if it’s not that hot, dogs will get thirsty.

Surfaces that are more forgiving on joints will be better for both you and your dog.

Plenty of Breaks

Dogs love the outside – so many sniffs and so much mental stimulation. Allowing time for your dog to have a quick break and sniff around will allow them to rest, but also give them a chance to enjoy their surroundings.

This will be particularly appreciated if you’re running in a new location from normal.

Reward Yourself and Your Dog

Rewarding yourself and your dog is really important to maintain motivation and enjoyment. Here at Race At Your Pace, we offer virtual challenges with real medals to help encourage you to keep moving and staying active.

Our running challenges are designed to fit around you, your lifestyle and your fitness level. You can run at a pace that you feel comfortable with and pick a distance that is ambitious but achievable.

These running challenges can be enjoyed on your own, with friends and family, or even with your dog! And with Race At Your Pace, you’ve got the support of our growing virtual community, cheering you on the whole time.

To learn more about Race At Your Pace and our virtual races, get in touch with us or follow on social media to stay up to date with our latest news.