9 Rules for Running With Your Dog

Honey, the Golden Retriever, comes running back on her walk.

Of course running is fun. Can’t you see the smile on my face?

Have you watched children lately? They run for fun. They run without thinking.

How about your dog? Does he run zoomies in the yard for sheer joy?

But we’re human adults. We need rules. Here are mine.

Rules for Running With Your Dog

1. You don’t have to RUN with your dog to run with your dog.

When you’re playing fetch, run in the opposite direction and make your dog chase you. Run with her to get the mail from the mailbox. Pick up the pace during a walk and run together down the street. Not everything has to be a big deal.

2. Make sure your dog can run with you, not ahead of you.

Being pulled on a run is not fun, unless you’re going up hill. But if your dog pulls, don’t assume he can’t run with you. I believe some dogs pull because their humans go too slow. And something as simple as a front fastening harnesscan decrease pulling quickly.

3. Let your dog choose the route.

Yesterday, Honey refused to follow me on our regular run. So I changed directions and ended up running along the lakeshore. Nice choice, Honey. Very nice.

4. Remember that humans and dogs are built to run.

Human hunters and their dogs can bring down antelope after outrunning them—not using speed but endurance. Channel your ancestors on the savannahs of Africa and run with your dog.

5. Don’t sweat the equipment.

I run braless with a pair of Keds sneakers on my feet. I can hear the gasps of horror now from people who have swallowed the Nike propaganda.

But both my reading (check out Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen) and my experience have taught me that less is more. Since ditching running shoes I have stopped spraining my weak ankles and gotten fewer blisters.

Ditto for the fancy runner’s leash. Just start running and buy goodies later, if you need them.

6. Don’t make your dog run if she doesn’t want to.

It’s supposed to be fun. This morning Honey would not run with me. It was too close to her breakfast and she was afraid she’d miss it if she went with me. Ok. She went back inside. I went for a run.

7. Pay attention to road surfaces.

If you’re wearing sneakers, it’s easy to forget what sharp gravel or hot asphalt feels like to a dog’s bare paws. If possible, chose a route that allows you to run on grass or a soft path. Your joints will appreciate it too.

8. It’s ok to break up a run with a sniff.

I see runners every day dragging their dogs away from an interesting scent. Hey, it won’t kill you to jog in place for a few seconds.

9. And if you or your dog just hate running, do something else.

Swim with your dog. Bike with your dog. Hike with your dog. There is no end to the ways human and dog athletes can have fun together.

Dogs and humans are meant to move together. So discover your inner zoomies. Go for a run with your dog.

Your Turn: Do you love or hate to run? Is it more fun with your dog?

Pssst. The links in this post take you to Amazon. If you buy something through that link, I’ll get a few cents to put toward the costs of this blog. Thank you very much.

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  1. What excellent advice. As a runner who has run with my dogs for (I hate to admit) almost 20 years these are spot on perfect tips. All of our dogs have loved to run with us, even Becca who had severe spinal issues when we adopted her. But the one that loves it the most is Jack. Watching him run is like watching a long distance runner – he kind of settles into it, hunkers down and just lopes – he is so into the ‘zone’. We actually did some research on this for our Blog and discovered that dogs release endocannabinoids just like humans – that’s the stuff that creates that “runner’s high” you hear about – yep, dogs get it too. Thanks for joining our Hop!

  2. I had to quit the running business, but we certainly stay active with walking and hiking, Roxy and Torrey both love to run at the park though. I think dogs need zoomies.

  3. Love your tips, especially #5 … hahah! Cosmo loved to zoom and now, so does Rocco! We follow lots of the tips you suggest and especially like to incorporate short, frequent play times like you suggest in #1. Great post!
    Your pals,
    Diane and Rocco Havanese

  4. I have a love/hate relationship with running. I got into it a few years ago, and I’ll never forget that feeling of accomplishment when I was able to run without stopping for breath every 10 seconds. And my dogs LOVE to run, so I incorporate little stretches of running into our walks. But generally, I am not a fan of running; I can cycle for hours though. Have you heard of pooch-to-5k?

  5. I like to run, but it’s so much better with the dogs. I feel like people are looking at them, not me! Lol. I like rule #5, and I sure wish I could run by that rule…particularly the first part, but that would not be a pretty sight. I have one dog who is a puller. I’ll give the front-fastening harness a try and see if that will help us. He wears a harness that has the D-ring on top of his shoulders, so it’s a good sled-dog arrangement. It has caused us a couple of collisions with each other, and I would love to not have to use it.

  6. I can’t run, the Forrest Gump knees won’t allow it, but I will at times jog with Delilah. I cannot however go braless, that just hurts too darn much!

  7. I love the new word:”Zoomies”!

  8. Woof! Woof! We did a post last week about my Golden Joy of running. Our today’s post is similar/continuation. As a Golden dog I LOVE to run. Mom does not agree on #3 … well I did once and what adventure I had with mom. I can’t wait for the weekend as mom promised me to go swimming. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  9. Well, I’m not a runner but Litchi loves to run. Luckily, she has great friends in the parks where I walk her and she gets to run with them like crazy. If I were to take up running, it would definitely be with a dog. Could think of no better way to spend that time.

  10. My peeps does not run and when she does I trip her up in excitement. LOL! Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  11. I hate to run! But I think I hate it because I never do it… if that makes sense. Whenever I give it a go, I end up feeling miserable, though I know if I kept up with it, it would get better over time. Two of my three LOVE to run, so they’re definitely encouraging me to keep at it!

  12. I gave up running for aerobics years ago, less weather, cuter clothes. My dogs are on their own to do their zoomies in the backyard. I was never fast enough for them anyway. :)

  13. We Do. Run. Run – As a runner and athlete for 30 years with and without dogs – the best advice I can add for both the two legged and four legged runners is:

    1) Anything in excess is not good. That includes running.
    2) Make sure to let your body Rest and Recover
    3) Cross Train – Choose other activities to Strengthen other Muscles
    4) Always, Always Stretch After and Cool Down
    5) Eat Well. Garbage In = Garbage Out

  14. We ran a lot with our last 2 pups, but have only done a bit of run/walking intervals with Rita. (Hubs has serious knee issues and I’m nursing some foot/ankle troubles.)

    Not with you on the braless thing. That is not fun! 😛

    Our vet said not to run w/ a dog under 1 year old, so that is something for folks to consider as well. Might want to check with the vet if your pup is ready to go for extended runs.

  15. Pamela, if I ran braless, I’d be beaten to death by my own boobs. And if I’m running at all, it’s because something horrific is chasing me, or one of my kids is hurt.

    I’ve read, though, that if I’m going to run, barefoot is the way to go, for the reasons you state about the Keds. Having worn handmade leather sole moccasins for a few months, I totally believe it. Wearing the mocs is like being barefoot, but with feet protected from the elements. My feet are stronger because I use the muscles in them when I walk. It’s weird. And very cool. I need to have my Hunny make me another pair, since I wore a hole in the first pair. :)

  16. Knees full of rice crispies will not allow me to run but we walk and hike trails with as much “terrain” as we can find here in pancake flat Florida…One thing I have started recently is walking on my errands to places like the library, drug store and post office (places where i can bring Gizmo in without a problem)…We wander different routes every time and it makes chores into fun

  17. We run every day…before work for 1 mile on leash through the neighborhood and after work for 2 to 3 miles OFF leash on one of the many trails surrounding our home. It bothers me to see young athletic dogs being forced to walk only on leash only on the sidewalks. Dogs are born to run and frolic…and they are so fun to watch when they do! And yes, we DO take time to stop and sniff the flowers (and weeds and rocks and lamp posts and…LOL).

  18. Thank you for joining FitDog Friday! I admire those who like to, but I hate to run, with or without a dog! lol. But I try to walk fast, if that counts. I love your tips, especially to let your dog sniff and run in place while you wait. For dogs, the walk or run is about a lot more than physical exercise. I think the sniffing is a crucial part of it. If stopping isn’t possible, I think a run first and a cool down walk after where the dog can sniff away might work.

  19. Sue at The Golden Life says:

    Brainless? I LOVE it!! You are a woman after my own heart!! No “horror” here! I’m at the younger end of the baby boomer generation, but I still supported my older sisters who rebelled against the establishment by ripping off their bras. In fact, now when I know we’re not going out anywhere but the yard, I take mine off for the night. If the neighbors don’t like it, they can stop looking.

    I hate running, but enjoy walking, which is much better for Callie at this point in her post-surgery rehab. I keep her on the leash and walk the perimeter of the backyard about 6-10 times, 2-3 times a day. And we let Shadow run, walk, trot, whatever she wants to do. Except on days like today when there are tornado watches and downpours all day long. Just the sound of heavy rain hitting the metal front porch roof sends Callie into high anxiety mode.

  20. Hey, good for you with your Keds! (though I’d be a hazard to myself if I ran braless….)

    So long as Nike is sponsoring Michael Vick, I will not buy their products. I personally love to be barefoot pretty much at all times, but I live in a college town…barefoot + drunk people who think broken glass is funny does not equal a good time.

  21. My dogs would love it if I took them running. But I can’t run. So we just do a lot of walking. I let them stop and snif… sometimes. :)

  22. Lots of good tips. I know I like using a bungee leash if running with my dogs, and prefer them being on a harness so their neck doesn’t get jerked around if I trip or they stop abruptly, but I’m sure I could run without those things (well, as much as I can ever run!).

  23. Pamela, I have a mental image of you running with just a pair of sneakers on your feet …. you go girl;)

  24. Run in whatever shoes you want, I say, but braless! That’s extreme.

    Silas *loves* running with me, but he’s a bigger wimp than I am about heat and distance. He maxes out at about five minutes. Of course, I max out at about 8 when I run without him. I’m trying to build both of our fitness levels!

    I’m having to be careful, though, to keep a good run/walk balance with him. If we skip walking all week in favor of running or playing for exercise, all of his leash manners go right out of his head.

  25. I used to hate running with my dog, and could only go a half a block at a time. I’m both out of shape but also have asthma, as well as generally low energy a lot of the time. But I got tired of him pulling, and I felt bad for him being attached to such a slow human that I kept up the limited amount I could run/jog, and now I can go further. It took a while though. What’s more, is now, as long as it’s not a particularly bad day for me, I actually enjoy it now. I never thought that would be possible before. Dogs are amazing.


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