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!


Running Buddy Breed Review – the Border Collie


border-collieWhy Border Collies Make Great Fitness Buddies

Border Collies make fantastic pets. They are full of energy, acrobatic, love the outdoors and the water and are perfect as a running buddy. Border Collies are generally very friendly and are great with kids, so you can find yourself stopping in many places along the way when your pooch decides to befriend a random stranger. To top it off they are extremely affectionate, good looking dogs.

Border Collies are in the upper echelon when it comes to doggie intelligence. They are highly responsive to verbal language and non-verbal communication  which make them great pets for people of all ages. Border Collies are, when compared to other breeds of dog, not difficult to train and they acclimatise easily to different indoor and outdoor settings.

The Border Collie is the perfect sized family pet. They are considered to be a medium sized dog (though on the larger end of medium) and this makes them resilient when it comes to children rough-housing but small enough not to be intimidating to people. Border Collies come in a few different colours but, as their name indicates, they are always two toned. Generally they are black and white but shades of brown and white are also common colours.

Border Collies would make a great companion for someone who has a lot of energy and engages in plenty of outdoor activities. They can stay active for hours at a time and require plenty of exercise. They are not an ideal pet for a person who spends long hours working and/or has a static lifestyle. If you are a single person considering getting a Border Collie, make sure you find more than ample time to go running with him, or you could find your yard or home trashed.

Border Collies make great working dogs. They can detect sounds such as yelling or whistling from great distances, and have a natural inclination to “round up” livestock. They are common fixtures at dog shows due to their aforementioned good looks and good behaviour.

When it comes to fitness partners or running buddies you would be hard pressed to find a more suitable dog. Their good nature and ease to train makes them obedient, which means you can run with them leash off and almost always be sure they will behave themselves. Their natural energy and fitness levels mean that they will challenge you to go further than you would ordinarily be inclined to. The fact that they require activity (and not meeting their physical and mental needs will risk damage to your personal property) should serve as even further encouragement to get outside and run with your happy pooch. Their overwhelming zest for life will keep you entertained for years and as far as dog therapy goes, Border Collies provide this more than any other dog. There isn’t a more heart warming sight than seeing a Border Collie flipping and tumbling through the whitewash at a beach.

There is one hereditary medical condition that can interfere with your Border Collie’s ability to run with you. Hip dysplasia does occur in this breed and it can lead to painful arthritis. Breeding dogs should be hip scored, and make sure you buy your pup from a breeder who has taken steps to reduce the chances of their pups developing this painful disease.

If you are interested in purchasing a Border Collie and can’t find any at your local animal shelter visit http://www.pups4sale.com.au and be sure you are purchasing from a registered breeder.

Photo by Eddie McFish

Categories : Dog Breeds



I have a 1 year old collie and we have started working up to 5K. In fact, I started running again for her when she was in season and had to be lead walked. Collies get bored REALLY fast! 3 weeks on the lead and we were both suffering. She’s finding the running a heck of a lot easier than I am I can tell you! I’ve a waist band and she clips on to it and trots next to me like a dream. So delighted to find this website and very blessed to have a furry running mate (who can’t moan about how slow I run!).


Guinness doesn’t mind how slow I go either, he’s just happy to be out with me. 🙂 Glad you found us, Kathy. If you’re a Facebook user, feel free to catch up with us there too.


Love love love! I have 2 BCs who mean the absolute world to me. George & Molly, my unconditional friends forever. They are a little too old and sore now for much running, but we remember and love the times we ran together. Even when I would ride my MTB and they would run beside me : ) The only way I could expend their energy! They’ll be with me on the Wild Horse run in spirit and will be waiting for me when I get home … very keen for an Easter Sunday walk. Love your appreciation for such a beautiful breed x


Thanks for the comment Trish, come and say hi at Wildhorse, we’d love to meet you 🙂


I have a 1yr old Border Collie who has been going to training classes and I work with him on a daily basis with some agility tricks. We go for walks twice a day and I would REALLY love to take him running with me. The problem is that he cannot walk in a straight line to save his life. He has a 6ft lead and does not pull hard but he just zig zags all over the place. I am worried that the two of us will end up in a giant tangle in the middle of the road if we try running together. Does anyone have any tips for how to train a dog to be a good running partner?


Hey Alicia

It’s a great idea to educate and exercise your Border Collie. Their intelligence and athleticism lend themselves to “urban” dog work like agility, obedience, and activities like dancing with dogs and running.

I’m not sure how you’re training your dog to do agility, but when I was teaching my dog, he learned a left-side and a right-side command. It made him easier to direct to the correct obstacle and to set up for the flow of the course. I wonder if you could teach a left side command and a right side command to use when you’re running. When your dog is on the correct side, you run. When your dog is on the wrong side, turn towards it, luring its nose close to your leg with a treat. Spin slowly through 360 degrees bringing the dog’s nose in behind your hand. When you’ve got the dog on the correct side, you run. Once you have the dog following your hand with the treat, try passing the treat behind you without spinning.

Break this movement into as many or as few steps as necessary to train your dog to change to the correct side on command. It may be easier to practise this with the dog in the back yard before hitting the streets with it.

A six foot lead may also be contributing to the problem, by allowing the dog too much latitude. Does a four foot lead help at all?

Let us know how you are getting along. Most of all be gentle but persistent.


I recently rescued a 3-mo old border collie from a ranch. They had been planning to breed her but sensed a vision impairment, so decided against it. When I got her 2 weeks ago, her hips were weak from being in a crate too long. She was timid and very submissive. She has since found her footing with me. She is confident and strong. We have been running in the mornings. We’re up to 1.5 miles, and could probably do more but it’s been pretty dark in the morning so we get a late start.

We have a Halloween-themed 5K in town next weekend, and I was just wondering if a 5K would be too much for her too soon? I won’t be racing it, just running it for fun, and I imagine with all the commotion she’ll need to greet everyone. My point in saying that is I won’t be dragging her behind me and forcing her to run. She is also small enough that if she gets tired I can carry her for a while.

I have been warned not to exercise her too much as a puppy, but I am an Exercise Physiologist, so I am used to having standards. A warning without guidelines is hard for me.

She always has energy after our morning runs, and she really enjoys them. She weighs about 15 pounds now (she was 11 when I first got her 2 weeks ago) – her hips have straightened out from our play time and exercise, she takes the stairs with confidence and grace, and she is walking much better on slippery surfaces, which I can only attribute all to stronger hips.

She will be about 15 weeks old on race day, and be about 16 or 17 pounds, and will have been running with me consistently for about 4 weeks for 1+ mile steady runs. She runs at the dog park and roams around at work.

Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. This is time sensitive as the race is next Sunday (10/27/13). I don’t want to cause damage to her joints, but I believe she would do fine.


Hi Katy, good on you for rescuing this little girl, it looks like she’s well on the way to becoming a fantastic little running buddy.

When to start exercising puppies is a bit of a grey area and as you say, it’s hard when there are no specific guidelines. I believe this won’t be a topic that’s ever thoroughly researched because it has the potential to cause harm. I get frustrated when I read on dog forums that a dog should only walk each day for five minutes for each month of age. I know my Guinness would have been a basket case if I’d taken him for a half hour walk when he was 6 months old. He’s a very active breed, as are Border Collies.

I rely a lot on a vet only website for most of my information so I had a look on there for any guidelines.

This is a comment from a veterinarian in the US: “Wolf pups leave the den by 8-10 weeks. By ~12 weeks, they begin accompanying adults on hunts, to the extent they can keep up.”

Another reproductive specialist veterinarian who breeds and competes in dog sports commented that she has only had pups develop elbow dysplasia if they are overexercised as pups.

On the other hand, an orthopedic and surgical specialist said that puppies have endurance and are capable of running a couple of miles happily. The big issue is not to force them to keep going, and to let them stop if they get tired.

So, it’s a bit hard to develop guidelines when even the experts can’t agree. I’ve heard it said that physically a 5-6 month old pup is the same as an 8-12 year old child. If that’s the case, then should one be concerned about the 9 year old boy who ran a half marathon here in Brisbane last month?

My personal view, and I can’t necessarily back it up with hard facts but just with reading over the years, is that dogs are capable of more than we think. If wolf pups were restricted until their growth plates closed then they’d starve. I think the biggest issue is that we’re breeding unsound dogs with orthopaedic issues that do need limit to what they do when they’re growing. But, in a sound, lean working type dog (and one from a ranch I’d assume is from working lines rather than show lines), I’d be inclined to do the event slowly and with extreme caution and a willingness to stop and carry her if necessary.

And, yet another veterinarian said on the forum that they’d prefer to give their growing dog a little more exercise than to deal with potential behavioural problems associated with a working breed that doesn’t get enough exercise.

So, hope that gives you some ideas to “run” with 🙂 If you do the race, we’d love to hear how it goes. And, if you dress up, pictures are essential 🙂


My border collie is training with me for a half marathon so she has gradually trained with me. She is about 6 and I do bring Waterford her for summer runs and any winter run over 5 miles. She even carries her own poop in a plastic bag tied around her neck. She loves to run!


Cool, June, Guinness is working towards a half marathon too, there’s a run in March that welcomes dogs in the 5k, 10k and half marathon. It’s hard at the moment, the weather is sweltering so I have to get up really early (not easy!) or run in the evening. How’s the weather over your way?


My collie is really difficult to run with! She is now nearly 10 and ever since she was little, if I try to run with her she barks and runs in front of me, jumping until I stop. She doesn’t do this with other runners in the park etc. I just don’t know if there’s any way to be able to run with her?


Bruce, my border collie, is 6 month old. He is extremely active and gets around 1.5 hours of exercise a day. We live in the mountains and we usually go on hikes and play ball at the park. Bruce weighs around 37 pounds. My question is, when can I start running with him? I run almost everyday but I’m afraid of hurting him.


Hi Andi, so sorry for the delayed response. Bruce will be almost 12 months old by now! The general guideline is 12 months before starting formally running but there are still things you can do to tire him out. I’ve found that when I took Guinness herding, he was mentally tired afterwards and that was as good for him as being physically worn out, and better for his joints. Maybe something like that is available in your area? Another option if you’re not into obedience exercises is canine musical freestyle. It’s a sport that’s constantly moving, but needs your dog to watch you and think, all of which tire him out.


Andi, sorry for the delayed response. Vets recommend waiting until 12 months old to allow the growth plates in the legs to close. This reduces the risk of overuse injuries to young joints.


Charlie, sorry for the delayed response. One of our veterinary writers, Kate, has tackled exactly this in a post she has written for us. It may help. http://poochto5k.com/dont-run-before-you-can-walk.html#more-1260


Maxxy is my 2nd border collie, his mum is a working dog and his dad is a show dog we have had him now for 6 years but i cant let him off the lead unless we are up the hills or in a fieldy because he would chase anything and he always growls and barks at other dogs (he nearly pulls me off my feet) when he sees one. He is brilliant at home and with kids and is very affectionate but i would love to take him out without the fear that hes gonna attack another dog, am not sure but i think he knows how anxious i am when we are out and maybe thats why he does it. What can i do


I just found this website and am thrilled! I rescued a half-dead young border collie about two months ago( probably lost from a cattle drive, or fell off a truck)and got him back to life. I am calling him Chance, and he is the love of my life-along with my husband. I am a 69 year old runner( marathon, half-marathon) and Chance is just perfect!!!I just tie his leash around my waist and take off for 5-10 miles daily.The vet thinks he’s one-two years old. I am also doing basic obedience with him and our 2 year old lab, KC, is training him, too. He is very loving although very shy, but less so as time goes by. He adores our cat, and won’t chase chickens. I have always wanted a bc, but thought they were too busy. We have always had bird-dogs. Chance is a whole new dog experience for me, and I love it. If I were a dog I would BE Chance.


I have a 6 year old BC that I rescued 2 years ago. She loves loves to run. In fact, there are times I have had to sneak out of the house when I was training for my marathon and running longer than the 13 miles she has ran with me because otherwise if she knows I
leaving her she cries. Alicia, I started running with her right away. She had never had this sort of interaction before. I keep her on my left side and run with a nylon type rope leash that loops around her neck that if she pulls too far, it gets tight around her neck. So when she gets away from my side, I pull and give the command “with me”. She hardly tried now to get in front of me and now all I have to do if she does is give her the command and she slows back down right at my side.


Hi Laura, Maxxy may well be picking up on your anxiety, or he may have some anxiety issues of his own that are causing him to growl and bark at other dogs. I can understand that this would take the shine off taking him for a walk. I’ve had a dog with exactly this behaviour, my blue cattle dog Ceilidh was a bit of a handful in this way. My suggestion is (and it was what I had to do) is visit a veterinary behaviourist for help. I saw Dr Cam Day here in Brisbane and he was very helpful. If you want to try something on your own first, check out his stepping stones program on this link – it’s got great detail in how to work with this problem. http://www.pethealth.com.au/Page/aggressive-dogs-brisbane-help-my-dog-is-aggressive-to-other-dogs-item


Hello! I have a 2 year old BC mix (mixed with Golden Retriever, we think) and we have worked up to running about 2.5 miles together. I want to be able to take him progressively further, however, don’t want to push him too far! I would like to be able to do a 10k with him, but not sure if that might be too much on him. I also certainly don’t want to increase his chances of having severe arthritis at an earlier age than he would otherwise. Any advice? Thanks! 🙂


Dogs are like people, if you build up gently and keep an eye on them, there’s no reason why you can’t increase distance. My Australian Working Kelpie and Australian Cattle dog are now 8 and 10 respectively, they have completed several half marathons (13 miles/21km) and they have absolutely no sign of lameness at all. Have fun!


I have a BC. Poppy. She’s a working BC. At work we have a neighbour who regularly runs 18m a day for marathon training. Poppy goes with her and ranges rurally so you can double that distance. Then wants to go again. 5 miles? That’s a pug surely?


I have a 4 month old b/c took her out for our first run and she easily outdistanced me. I’ve been running competitvly for years now and our 4 month old dog left me in the dust.

I have a feeling that this “wait till they’re 12 months is a bit of a myth.” I haven’t found any research or statistics to show that this is true.

The only paper that i came across said that running may possibly contribute but it was not certain.

If anyone could point me in the direction of some research i would be greatly appreciative.


Trounce, I hear ya! I haven’t been able to find any research either, and in fact those who train sled dogs start their dogs running well before 12 months. About growth plates, human growth plates close from 13 – 17 years and I’ve seen 9 year old boys nail a 10km fun run. With no formal research, all I can do on a public site is offer what’s recommended by vets but I think a lot has to do with a dog’s conformation and what orthopaedic conditions we’ve “bred” into them.

This is the only study I’m aware of and it suggests that off leash exercise from birth to 3 months can be protective with respect to HD –



This is interesting – “We put them in harnesses at the age of about 6 months. If we have snow and guests here, we pull out the stand-up sled, which accommodates 3 helpers on the first run. We don’t make a big deal about this, but it is very useful to have some people around the first time. We put in 4-6 pups together with some of our veteran huskies and drive off very slowly. Pups normally have full power on the tug line from the word ‘go’; running and pulling hard as if they have never done anything else. The first round is very short, usually about 2–3 kilometers, but after this it’s just a question of packing in as much training as possible to build these fantastic creatures into great sled dogs. ”

From http://www.husky-holiday.com/en/how-we-train-41


I’ve just adopted a beautiful 1yo collie. It doesn’t seem like shes been on a leash much. I walked her for a few days and have now started running with her, which she loves! She does zig zag a bit and nip at the leash occasionally though.

How far do you think I should be running her? At the moment we do about 5kms. I’m not home during the day but take her to the dog park for an hour every afternoon as well. Is this enough exercise?


Hey there- my husband and I just got a sweet little 3 month old BC/Hangin’ Tree mix last week and she’s super energetic and I know she is going to be a pure joy (once we survive puppy life). We both work full time and we are taking her to a puppy/small dog daycare 3-4 days a week. Is there any concern that playing with other dogs for 8 hours (she naps while she’s there too!- they have webcams so we spy on her) might be too physical for her age? I really want to run with her when she’s a year old and don’t want to injure her puppy bones. I don’t see any intense jumping or too rough of play but still unsure? I can’t find anything online about puppies and daycare play. The facility is really nice and extremely strict about vaccines and parasite testing so I’m not concerned about other health issues stemmng from this experience. It’s a few blocks from my work so I get to stop by at lunch time and take her for a walk too.


Is cycling (downhill) good for a border collie as my dog groomer said it can cause arthritis and now I’m worried about it


I’d be very careful taking a border collie running before it has matured physically. They have so much drive they are likely to injure themselves and keep going regardless. They don’t know when to stop. I did take my mixed breed (same size, shape and structure as a border collie) for long (1 hour) walks offleash when she was 6 months old and she would run around almost constantly during the walk but afterwards she’d often favour a hind leg and it worried me that she might be over exercising herself. I certainly never would have run with her on leash as she’d have felt a need to keep up with me and might have done herself serious injury. She’s 2 now and doesn’t seem to have any issues with her joints or back but it was a worry for me. She just wanted to run and run as a pup (she had a LOT of energy to burn) and I had to resort to leashing her after half an hour and walking her back sedately for the walk home to stop her over exerting herself.

Now she will run for well over an hour if I let her but we can only do this in winter as summers here get too hot and she overheats after 20 minutes even in the evenings and early mornings.

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