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How To Train a Dog To Run

By Colleen Williams
June 5, 2019 • 3 min. read

What better running partner than man’s best friend? Before you hit the pavement with your pup, there are a few crucial things to know.


1. Start out easy.

Just as in humans, it’s easy to overdo it when first exercising. Avoid common injuries like paw scrapes and ligament tears by limiting your pet’s exercise to 15 minutes at the start. Only healthy, adult dogs should run without a vet’s approval; elderly dogs have a higher risk of bone and joint conditions that running can exacerbate. Do not run a puppy (under 1 year old) and be careful when attempting to run with a brachycephalic, or short-nosed, dog breeds like pugs and bulldogs. They tend to tire easily and have breathing issues due to their flat faces, so observe these pets carefully when exercising.

Additionally, not all dogs are into running – whether that means you’re trying to run a 4lb chihuahua or even a 100lb mixed breed, each dog is different and knowing their activity level (and preference) is best.

2. Get the gear.

A sturdy leash is an obvious essential when training a dog to run. For leash-tuggers, a harness may be better, as it prevents accidental choking from the collar. Hands-free leashes are ideal for dedicated runners; an adjustable belt holds the leash connection, which should be four to six feet long to avoid entanglements with your pup. Chains, retractable leashes, and long lines are not appropriate for running or walking with a dog, as they’re can cause choking and are cumbersome.

For longer runs or in hot weather, bring a collapsible water bowl. Remember to bring plenty of extra water for Fido, and don’t forget the doggie bags!

3. Make increases gradually.

After limiting initial walks to 15 minutes, gradually upping the intensity or duration of your pet’s exercise. If you began by walking, introduce light jogging and eventually full running. Start with three runs per week, and add five minutes every week.

Signs your dog is tiring too quickly include heavy panting or coughing, excessive drooling, and simply stopping to sit. Watch for heat stroke in hot temperatures. If your pet is done for the day, head home and be sure to reward him or her with a belly rub and healthy treats.

4. Enforce the rules.

Pick Up That Poop

While you may love your dog, others out and about may not appreciate his presence. Always keep your pup under control; if you spy people approaching, keep your pet calm and at your side. Training your dog with running commands (“slow” or “stop” being necessary) is imperative for not just a good running companion, but also for safety. Remember: keep your dog jogging within a three foot radius and on the sidewalk, away from oncoming traffic.

Allow your pet to stop for sniff or potty breaks, but don’t make it a habit. If you want an uninterrupted run, take your dog for a potty break before you hit the road. Let dogs check out new scents on a designated sightseeing walk; this can help pups who pull and make pets feel more comfortable in new surroundings.

5. Pick Up After Yourself & Your Pup!

As a pet parent, your dog’s messes are yours, so Pick Up That Poop! Never be without doggie bags, preferable biodegradable ones. While some parks or public areas may provide doggie bags or receptacles, don’t depend on this. As stinky as it may be, hold on to your pet’s mess until you find an appropriate waste bin.

If you love your pets like family, you want to protect them like family. By enrolling in pet insurance, you can save up to 90% on vet bills which means saying “yes” to life-saving treatments and the subsequent rehabilitation and recovery too! If you’re not a part of our pack, start by getting a free quote.


colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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