10 Tips for Running With Your Dog

Fresh from his successful finish at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile Endurance race, Sean Lang is joining us here today to share his top ten tips for starting a running program with your dog.  Sean, who runs just about every day, most of the time with our dog, Gordy, has a wealth of experience with both running and dogs.  Stay tuned to see how combining the two can be the most fun you’ve ever had running! Take it away, Sean!

Sean and Gordy race across the beach

Few things are as enjoyable as running with man’s best friend! The excitement as you put on your running shoes, the burst of energy when you begin, a slobbery grinning face, and tired contentment upon returning, make running with a dog a special experience for both human and canine.  Both dogs and humans need regular exercise, but unfortunately in today’s busy world both species are usually lacking in the activity department. But it is not too late for either species! Starting a running program with a dog takes time and effort, but following a few guidelines will enrich both of your lives.


1. Ask your veterinarian if running is the right exercise for your dog

Young puppies or older dogs with health problems like hip dysplasia would be better off doing other exercises.

2. Build up mileage gradually

Just like humans, dogs need to gradually increase their running mileage. With a dog new to running, start out running 1-2 miles followed by a 1 mile cooldown. Increase the mileage weekly (if you can also handle the extra miles) by ~1 mi per day. It has been my experience that dogs get in shape a lot faster than their human counterparts, but your dog’s fitness should be taken into account when starting a running program.

3. Preplan your route

Things that you’ll need to know in advance about your running route are: the distance, availability of water, whether there is shade, the expected temperature, and laws regarding dog usage (California State Parks don’t allow dogs…).


Plenty of water here!

4. Bring water

If there isn’t accessible water on your route you’ll need to carry water for you and your dog. For a one hour run your dog will need approximately 20 oz of water. I often http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/ambien/ carry two 20 oz. Ultimate Direction water bottles, one for me and one for Gordy. Other options include carrying a hydration pack with an extra water bottle, or bowl for the dog.

5. Bring leash, cell phone, and I.D.

Even if you are running in an “off leash” area, it is a good idea to still bring a leash. This allows you to control your dog from wildlife and other hazards on the trail. I usually attach the leash to a hip pack (that I carry my cell phone and I.D. in).  Don’t forget I.D. for your dog as well – make sure he or she is wearing a collar with proper I.D. tags.

6. Reward good behavior with dog treats

Dogs usually respond better when they are bribed with treats. The treats that I bring are easy to carry and give without breaking stride. Gordy also likes human energy food like Gu Gels and Chomps!


Gordy enjoying a brief rest in the shade

7. Run in the morning or evening

Unlike humans, dogs don’t have sweat glands. Combined with the fact that fur acts as an insulator, dogs can overheat really quickly. I avoid this by running in the morning, when the temperatures are nice and cool, plus this helps keep the dog mellow throughout the day. A typical schedule for Gordy is to run with me in the morning, and then again in the evening.

8. Be aware of the surface you’re running on

Sharp surfaces can cause a dog’s paws to get sore, so be aware of what you’re running on, and if your dog starts limping it is definitely time to stop running.

9. Take a Pet First Aid course

In the case of an emergency, it is good to know how to treat injuries that might arise.  The American Red Cross offers certification.

10. Bring a camera

Gordy enjoys running with a group

Document your adventure!


Other links:

Runners World:  The Dog Run

Great resource from Runners World.

Running the Planet:  Running with Your Dog

Cesar Milan:  I’m a Runner

How to run with the pack.

Fit for Dogs

Dr. Liz Dewitt is a canine sports medicine specialist in Santa Cruz and the organizer of the All Star Dog Run!


For those that want to race:

All Star Dog Run Santa Cruz

I hope to see you there!


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