Why Run With Your Dog?

Personal training for dogs. You’re kidding, right? Actually, no, we’re not. Research suggests up to 40% of our dogs are overweight, and they suffer from the same health complications that overweight people do. Veterinarians (including myself) are becoming more and more concerned about the increase in joint pain, heart disease and other obesity related illnesses in dogs. Hence, Pooch to 5k. Dogs can’t lift weights, or use the gym. If you’re going to increase their fat burning, you need to increase the intensity of their exercise. This means that a daily stroll just won’t cut it any more, it’s too laid back. The Pooch to 5k program will help you get your dog from doing nothing much to comfortably running 5km, over a period of 12 weeks.

Because you’ll be running with your dog, you’ll also get a great workout three times a week, as you train yourself to run 5km. Why not subscribe to our dog health and fitness newsletter and grab your dog, and you’re ready to go!


Equipment to Keep Your Pooch Healthy


So you want your dog to be your running buddy, but where to start? Before you start your workout routine, it’s important to make sure that you have the correct equipment to make running enjoyable for both you and your dog! Your dog can greatly affect your health as your running partner!


The type of collar or harness that you use for your dog is very important. For your running partner, a collar is as important to him as your set of running shoes is to you. Sometimes the type of collar needed is determined by how well your dog is trained.

The best collar for running is just a regular buckle collar. It will not apply unwanted pressure if your dog is not pulling, and it is a lightweight and non invasive option. Make sure that any collar you choose for your dog is the right size and does not have any rough areas that can hurt your dog. Examine the collar when you snap the leash on each time you go out to double check that there are no weak areas, tears, or cracked and damaged buckles. By doing a quick inspection, you will know that the collar will hold tight and keep your dog secure during a run.

If your dog bolts suddenly while running, or pulls so hard that you can’t even focus on your run, avoid resorting to choke or prong collars. Instead do all that you can to work on training your dog so that these collars aren’t necessary for your workout. Both choke and prong collars can seriously hurt a dog, especially if yanked on during a run.


If you are struggling with a pulling dog, a head harness (or head halter) might be the best option for you. Choose the type of harness that wraps over the face and muzzle and connects to the lead at the back of the head. This is a much better option for the pulling dog than a choke collar or a harness that attaches under the chin, because it causes no pain. It just makes your dog uncomfortable if he is pulling while wearing it.

Traditional harnesses are a good option if your dog has a weak windpipe, if the head is smaller than the neck (as seen in some bulldogs), or if he has other neck problems. For regular dogs harnesses may not be the best option for a workout for a few reasons.

First, harnesses are designed for dogs to wear while pulling, whether it be sleds, carts, or weights. Simply by putting a harness on your dog, the pulling may be encouraged because of the center of gravity shift. The second reason that a harness is not the ideal is that it covers more area of your dog’s skin, and thus can be more likely to leave chaffing and sores in tender areas. The final thing to consider is that harnesses can sometimes be difficult to put on your dog correctly. If not used correctly, your dog could slip out, or be injured during use.

However, do keep in mind that in some cases traditional harnesses are the best option for your dog. Just weigh the pros and cons when deciding whether or not a harness is right for you. It is important to always make sure that you can always fit two fingers comfortably between the collar or harness and your dog’s skin so that you know it isn’t too tight.


Many joggers like to have their dogs on extendable leashes during a run. This is definitely not ideal. Because these contraptions have moving parts, they can get stuck or damaged easily. A regular 6 foot lead is your best option. You should never want your dog to be more than 6 feet away from you at any point during your workout. Many leash laws also specify that the lead should not be longer than 6 feet.

When you let your dog farther than 6 feet away, you are giving up a lot of control and your dog will be paying more attention to his surroundings, and less attention to you. Follow the law, and keep your dog safe by just using a regular 6 foot lead.

Other Equipment

Here are a few other pieces of equipment to consider when making your dog your workout buddy! Consider getting a cheap treadmill for you to run on if you live in an area where it’s very hot outside. Since most dogs are pretty hairy, if you force your dog to run with you outside in the heat, he could develop heat stroke and dehydration very easily. Also since he is running “barefoot” hot asphalt can burn his feet badly, especially with extended exposure. Even though the pads of his feet are designed to insulate in cold temperatures, they can be burned in extreme heat.  You can also teach your dog to run on the treadmill, but watch out, because if you do he might become addicted to it!

Another thing that shouldn’t be forgotten on a very long run is that dogs need to drink! Around half way through the run (or several times throughout) you should offer your dog some water. Don’t give him too much: just a few swigs to get him through without having to worry about dehydration. And of course when you get home, a nice bowl of ice water will be very appreciated.

When you decide to run with your dog, use common sense and figure out what the best equipment for running is for your dog. Every dog is different and has individual needs. Keep running a fun experience for both you and your dog, and you can enjoy it for years to come!

This is a guest post by Emma Green who is a resident of Southern Utah. She is passionate about dogs, health, and does some writing for treadmillreviews.com. Feel free to contact her with any questions about dogs and exercise at emmagreenie@live.com

Categories : General



These are great general tips but I have to say I disagree with a few as someone who runs with a lot of dogs. In my opinion, a 4 foot leash and a martingale collar provides the best combination for running. In cases where collars are too restrictive, the gentle leader harness is the best option.


Abbi, thank you for the comment! I know that everyone has their own opinions about different equipment to use, and that is just fine! You have to find what works for you! I suppose I should have mentioned it, but I think a 4 foot lead is just fine as well. While I prefer a 6 foot, what I was really trying to get across with that paragraph is that anything longer than 6 feet can be dangerous. If I had bigger and taller dogs, then I would likely use a 4 foot lead as well, but my dogs are both less than a foot off the ground, so such a short lead doesn’t give them too much room. But I definitely feel that 4 foot is much safer than the extendable leads!

Gentle leader harnesses, or any other type of head halters are a good choice for some, as mentioned. I haven’t ever used a martingale on my dogs, except for in the show ring. I have no doubt that they are just fine to use for a run, as long as they don’t tighten to the point where your dog can’t breathe properly. Keep doing what works for you and your dog, it sounds like you have a great system worked out!


I can’t run with a 4 foot leash with Guinness because he’s such a big long dog, even with the leash at full extension I worry about stepping on his heels unless my arm is fully extended in front. I have also tried the Gentle Leader and when he pulls, the leash attached under his chin twists his head around to the side. I worry about the effects on his neck. I much prefer the Black Dog Infin8 halter because it is much gentler on his neck. So, we’ll all find a system that works best for us 🙂 Thanks for commenting, Abbi 🙂


I would never use a gentle leader while running with my dog for that exact reason. When working obedience maybe, but never running as it only takes one accidental jerk to wrench your dog’s neck, hard.


Gentle Leader has a body harness and a head collar. I’ve used both (the head collar was the Halti version) and much, much, much prefer the Gentle Leader body harness. It’s practically saved my relationship with my dog (he he). She’s a husky cross and LOVES to pull. I stepped on the leash ones with the head collar on and made her yelp. It’s just not worth risk to me. Especially when you are moving quickly. I use a 6ft. leash with her and have two knots in it so I can grab on at comfortable points depending on the terrain and how much control I need. But it varies according to each dog’s height. With mine, I’d also be happy with a 4ft leash.

Thanks for the article!


You can actually get proper running harnesses for dogs, and bungee leads, which reduce the pressure on their necks.

My dog refused to wear his, I sold it on ebay 🙂


great tips i run with my dogs but i never considered appropriate collars its something i am going to take on board

Leave a Comment