Run.  Wag.  REpeat.

Tips for Running with Your Dog

Dr. Lauren Talarico BS, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology/Neurosurgery) Founder of We RUFF DC, LLC

Running is one of the best forms of exercise for both you and your dog. The health benefits of running for people and their canine counterparts are endless. Before you consider beginning a running program with your furry friend, there are several important things to take into consideration. Below are some useful tips to get you and your furry friend ready start a running program!


I always recommend that your furry friend be evaluated by your veterinarian prior to starting any exercise regime. Your vet can help answer questions regarding specific nutrition needs, vitamin supplements and underlying health conditions that may factor into your dog’s training. They can also provide advice with regards to exercise intensity and duration in relation to your dog’s breed and size.


Leash training a dog, especially a puppy, can be challenging. I recommend making sure your dog is very well socialized and used to walking right next to you on a leash prior to starting a

running routine. I also recommend that you run with your dog on a harness rather than a leash and collar. Excessive pull on the neck region (cervical spine) can lead to many problems in the future.

During your run, you want to ensure that the leash is kept somewhat loose but that your dog is directly by your side. I do not recommend running with your dog’s leash around your waist. If he/she is startled or becomes excited about a new smell, they can easily pull you down and all control is lost. Having the leash in your hand with a firm grip is best.


Would you go out and run a half marathon for your first run? Probably not! Please don’t expect your dog to run a 5K on day one. Even though your pup may seem full of energy and can play for hours in the park, running at a consistent pace for a prolonged period of time can take a toll on your pooch. It is important to build up mileage just as you would for yourself. I recommend starting with a 1-2 mile run at a pace that is comfortable for you both. Make sure your pup can stay with you at whatever pace you choose. If you notice them slowing down, consider stopping for a bit and walking the rest of the way.


I recommend carrying a bottle of water on a running belt around your waist for your pooch. It is also a good idea to keep a few tiny healthy treats in the event your running buddy gets distracted. The Whistle activity monitor and Tagg GPS tracker are excellent training tools. I highly recommend these products for any dog starting a running regime. Whistle provides a way to quantify precisely the amount and intensity of a dog’s daily exercise. In our We RUFF DC groups, we use Whistle to tailor specific exercise programs for each dog based on their progress and skill level.


Even though your furry buddy has really thick paw pads, they are no replacement for rubber soled sneakers! Please be careful running with your dog on rough payment, trails
filled with sharp rocks or streets where there may be broken glass. I recommend packed dirt paths or white concrete when training your pooch pace along your side. Remember: Black top can get hot! If your dog starts to limp or appears painful on their feet, stop and go home!