Home  /   Pet resources  /   Dog Running 101

Dog Running 101

Dog Running 101

Research shows that dog owners tend to get more exercise than non-pup parents. And it just so happens that your dog may be the best running partner you’ll ever find. If you’ve been thinking about taking Fido for a jog, check out these handy tips and you’ll be logging the miles in no time.

What you’ll need:

  • Appropriate athletic clothes. Moisture-wicking material is ideal (even for socks!). The general rule of thumb is to dress for 20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature. Once you get going, you’ll warm up fast.
  • Good running shoes. Not tennis shoes; not cross trainers; not four-year old sneakers. A good pair of running shoes should retail for around $80-110. It’s a wise investment because a quality pair will offer you the most cushioning and support, plus last longer than cheap ones (~400-500 miles). The best places to buy running shoes are at Fleet Feet on Delaware Ave. and Runner’s Roost in Orchard Park.

What your dog will need:

  • A leather or vinyl leash of at least 4 ft. (the longer the better). Retractable leashes are not advised, as they don’t offer as much control as a regular leash. Hold the leash with both hands across the body while running. This will give you a good grip and help you keep the dog on one side. Belt leashes take some getting used to, but can be very effective.
  • We recommend a dog sports harness, though a good-fitting collar will work as well. You should be able to slide just two fingers underneath a collar – any more than that and it could slip off while running.
  • Poop bags. It’s a good idea to have a few, in case your pup takes multiple breaks.
  • WaterRover or similar water bottle in the summer. Paw protection in the winter. Reflective gear if running in the dark.


Tips for running with your dog:

  • Make sure your dog doesn’t eat one hour prior to or one hour after the run. This is to prevent bloat.
  • Your dog should be full-grown before starting a running program. On average, this occurs around one year, when the growth plates are fully developed. But it’s always a good idea to talk with your vet, because every breed is different. Older dogs should also be run with caution, and only if they have no chronic health issues.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature. Every dog’s heat tolerance is different, but 80 degrees seems to be the average point when it’s too hot to run. In the winter, dogs don’t seem to mind the cold or snow as much as people. Just be careful that the salt and ice don’t irritate your pup’s paws.
  • Start off with a short walk to warm up, then end with a short cool-down walk.
  • If both you and your dog are new to running, start with 10-20 minutes. It’s ok to sprinkle in walking breaks (for example, run for 2 minutes, walk for 2 minutes). The key is to start easy and gradually increase your distance.
  • As for pace, the most common mistake is running too fast too soon. Jogging should be an aerobic exercise – meaning you don’t have to be breathing heavy to get a good workout. If you can’t hold a conversation while jogging, slow down. The challenge is that your dog may want to sprint at the beginning.
  • Your dog will probably be VERY excited the first few minutes. After that, they tend to get more focused.
  • If your dog has a strong prey drive, try to see other critters before your dog does. While running, your dog has more momentum and can pull harder than while walking. Also watch out for broken glass on the sidewalks.
  • Listen to your dog. If he/she starts panting uncontrollably or starts slowing down, take a break.
  • Again – start slow and short, and gradually increase your distance. The rule of thumb is to not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% per week, and to take an easier recovery week every four weeks or so.
  • The most important tip – HAVE FUN! Running is a great way to bond with your pup and get both of you in better shape.