How to Run with Your Dog…

…and not look like this:


Every dog is special sometimes…. 🙂

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to be able to adopt a beautiful, young Golden Retriever from a local “kill” shelter (of all places, get it together people). At that point in my life, I was having a tough time emotionally, so when Scout (known as “Tazia” back then…she did not come from the best part of town…) calmly laid her head in my lap, my heart melted and I gave in to her adorable-ness.

At first, I only took her for a short walk every day, but I quickly noticed her ability to keep up with the people she was with. Only a few days after adopting her, I took her out for a 4-mile hike and she kept up with the group I was with just fine. After that hike, I gradually eased her into running with me, one mile at a time.

After almost a year of running with her, I can definitely say Scout is my favorite running partner! She is ALWAYS up for a run and never complains if the pace is a lil too slow 😉

I am definitely lucky that as a Golden baby, Scout has a naturally laid-back temperament and likes to stay by my side. Not all dogs are so eager to please, however.

A lot of dogs are wild, crazy, and will run away in a heart beat if let off of the leash.

Or they may not be natural born runners.


My roommate’s dog can play at the dog park for hours, but if taken on a run, he will sit down and won’t move after 100 meters.

Here are my tips for finding the best canine running partner that you can:

1.  Get a breed that’s known for running.  If you know that one of the qualities you want in a dog is a running partner then do a little research before you have your heart set on a certain breed.  This article by Runner’s World provides a wealth of information on this topic.

2. Make sure your dog is good on a leash while walking before attempting to run. If walking with your pup is a arm workout for you, then you probably shouldn’t advance to running just yet. In other words, if Fido is still pulling hard on the leash and does not know how to walk properly by your side, you probably still have some training to do with him/her.  Teach them how to run with you and not ahead of you.

3Slowly work up your dog’s endurance.  Dogs are JUST like people in that they cannot (or should not) just go and pull out a 5-miler on their first run. Work up to it. Scout’s first run was around a mile, and slowly, but surely, I worked her up to longer distances. Her longest distance so far was around 16 miles. On that particular run, I made sure to carry dog food and extra water with me. I also was trail running, so my pace was quite slow.

Taking a break by the James River on that long run!

Taking a break by the James River on that long run!

4.  Keep temperature in mind.  Dogs don’t sweat like humans.  To get rid of body heat they pant.  This makes them much more sensitive to warm temperatures.  Keep this in mind during the warm summer months. In the winter, Scout seemed to be able to go for hours, but what a difference the heat makes!? This summer, I can only take Scout on runs in the morning or evening or else she will overheat.

Hot dog!

Hot dog!

5. Keep your dog on a leash. While running on trails, especially, I am tempted to let Scout off her leash. If I am running in an area with no leash laws, I usually do. However, be respectful to other trail users!  I am a strong believer in the phrase that no one will ever love your dog as much as you do! 

Also…remember to ALWAYS keep an eye on your dogs and their needs too! If you are trying to get 6 miles in, but your pup is slowing down and panting by mile 4.5, it is probably best to drop your dog at home before finishing up your run.

Running with Scout has been GREAT bonding exercise! She truly does get super excited when I put on my running shoes.

Dogs are the best.

funny dog poster

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1 Response to How to Run with Your Dog…

  1. I absolutely love running with my dog. He’s an australian shepherd/border collie mix so he’s super high energy (necessitating the runs), but is also an incredibly smart and likes to please, so he’s very good off leash. I generally have him off-leash as long as it’s not a crowded trail, but he knows how to recall and sit next to me on the side of the trail when we do pass by others.

    I totally agree with everything you said. Indy can come on 10+ mile runs with me most of the time, but in the summer I usually cut his runs down to about 5 miles and only early in the mornings. He has a super thick coat, so he overheats easily. Trail running is also easier in the summer for dogs because they usually have lots of opportunities to cool off in streams along the trail.

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