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Whether you are a seasoned runner or a novice, have a dog or are thinking about adopting one, running with your dog will add to the joy of running.

Benefits of Running With Your Dog

Guy running with his dog in the woods

Running with your dog benefits both you and your dog. You know why you run, but did you know that your four-legged friend can reap the same rewards?

  1. Improves Health
    Like humans, dogs need exercise and many dogs, especially high energy ones, do not get enough. By running with your dog both of you are getting much-needed exercise and will reap the rewards including cardiovascular fitness, muscular and skeletal strength, and maintaining a healthy weight. It also helps ward off illness and increases life span – and who doesn’t want to have their canine companion around and healthy for as long as possible?
  2. Good Behavior
    Running helps you cope with the stresses and pressures of modern life, and is productive in your dog’s life, too. Running is the perfect time to work on training commands, teaches your dog to stay at your side, and helps keep them focused and controlled around distractions. It is also a great outlet for all that excess energy, and may help prevent destructive habits such as digging, aggression, and excessive chewing of your sofa and new shoes.
  3. No Excuses
    Your dog loves spending time with you, and on days when you are searching for any excuse to skip your run your canine partner won’t let you. Like you, your dog will become used to the routine of running and start to expect it. In case you forget, your dog will be oh-so-helpful by standing at the door, leash in mouth, ready to go.
  4. Bonding Time
    Not that you aren’t already best buddies with your furry friend, but all the time spent running together will strengthen that bond. Your dog appreciates being with you, and running is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time together.
  5. Protection
    Not that you aren’t already best buddies with your furry friend, but all the time spent running together will strengthen that bond. Your dog appreciates being with you, and running is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time together.
  6. Make New Friends
    Runners and other dog-lovers you pass on the way are more likely to nod or even pause to start a conversation when accompanied by your canine companion.

Best Breeds for Running

Dog with a pillow

Most dogs love to run, but some breeds are naturally better suited to longer distances than others. In general, working dogs and dogs that are bred to run are ideal, while flat-nosed dogs such as pugs and bulldogs tend to overheat and should stick to running around the dog park. If you don’t already have a dog and are searching for your new running partner, consider a breed best-suited to your style of running:

  • Weimaraners, German shorthaired pointers, vizslas, Parson Russell terriers, standard poodles, Catahoula leopard dogs, and Dalmatians are best for long steady runs. Weimaraners, German shorthaired pointers and vizslas are also good for running on trails.
  • For short, fast runs, greyhounds, pit bulls, English setters, beagles, Belgian sheepdogs and pharaoh hounds will do well.
  • For runners in a warmer climate, the Rhodesian ridgeback or fox terrier is a good choice.
  • Live in the north? Malamutes, German shepherds, Swiss mountain dogs, Siberian huskies and border collies have coats that are suited to the cold.
  • If your trails have obstacles, then a Portuguese water dog or Australian shepherd will be able to navigate them well.
  • Golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers are friendly, easy to train and make a great running partner for just about any distance.

And don’t forget to look at your local shelter. You can find pure breeds there, but mixed breeds with any of these in its DNA can make an ideal running partner.

Safety First

Runner ID Bacelet

No matter the breed or how long you have had your dog, take your furry friend to the veterinarian before starting a running program. If your dog is too young, too old, or has an underlying health issue, running could do more harm than good. Your vet can also advise you on the best program for your dog to gradually increase endurance and avoid injury from doing too much too soon.

Once your dog gets the go-ahead, be sure that it is leash-trained and knows basic commands. For both your safety and your dog’s, you don’t want it darting into the middle of the street into the path of an oncoming car. Dogs who have good walking manners will transition easily to running. Some dogs are natural pullers, so training it to stay next to you is important. Although your dog might be king of the castle at home, it is your responsibility to be the leader of the pack when you are out on the road.

When choosing where and when to run, remember these points:

  • Your dog has a fur coat, so in warm weather run early in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler and try to pick shadier routes to keep your dog from overheating. Take along some water and stop for breaks so your dog can rest and rehydrate.
  • Dogs don’t have the latest running shoes to absorb the pounding or protect from road debris, so choose routes with grass or trails. Likewise, hot pavements can burn paws and winter road salt should be avoided.
  • In case your dog gets away or you get injured, always have identification. Be sure your dog has a collar with a tag and you have an ID bracelet, such as an IDmeBAND Bracelet.
  • If you are running at dawn, dusk or when it is dark, choose a harness that has reflective material or a collar with LED lights to be more visible to drivers. For yourself, consider adding a LightGUIDE LED Light Band to your running gear.

LED Safety Light Dog Collar

Unless you are running in a contained area, it is best to run with your dog on a leash since even the most well-behaved dog can suddenly take off after that squirrel! To keep your hands free (so you can carry that bottle of water for your pooch), try a hands-free leash. The Gone For A Run Hands-Free Dog Leash features an adjustable waist belt with a quick-release buckle, a swivel hook to prevent the leash from intertwining, a bungie section to absorb shock when your friend is pulling, and two handles to quickly grab when needed to control your dog. The “hand-free” experience can enhance the safety and quality of your run for both you and your canine partner.

Run Bella Run!

Run Bella Run

Still not sure about the joy of running with your dog? Elizabeth Morgan and her rescue dog Bella will convince you otherwise. A runner for 15 years, Elizabeth needed something to refresh her routine. She heard about the benefits of having a furry running partner, and after researching breeds went to her local Humane Society where she was instantly smitten with a black lab, Bella. Finding a forever home for Bella had been a challenge for the shelter since she was an extremely high-energy dog – which made her perfect for Elizabeth! Bella (and Elizabeth) have a full race calendar of 5Ks, half-marathons and even a full marathon. Elizabeth and Bella have started the Run Bella Run campaign to increase awareness for animal shelters and rescue dogs, and to raise money for the Humane Society where Bella was adopted. Gone For A Run is honored to support this campaign, and 20% of the price of every item purchased from the Running With Your Dog category using the code RUNBELLARUN is donated to this very worthy cause.

So, lace-up, leash-up and get out there with your new running partner! You will both be happier and healthier for it.