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22 Tips and Best Gear for Running with Your Dog

I have been a lifelong fitness student and enthusiast ever since winning the gold at conference in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM back in my “glory days.” I am also a writer and the marketing wizard here at My Top Fitness.

I have an ever-growing list of interests, including swimming, running, golf, bowling, speedcubing, speed running (old Nintendo games), locksport, cooking, chess, tournament poker, fishing, hiking, camping, and sleight of hand, just to name a few. On some platforms, you can find me as the self-appointed “Jack of all Hobbies”

I am a proud husband and father of 2 children, a.k.a. gremlins, and I am super excited to help as many people as possible on their individual fitness journeys.

If you haven’t already tried it, consider running with your dog. Canines make some of the most devoted and reliable running partners. Not to mention, they’re nonjudgmental. If you’re thinking about bringing your beloved pooch along for a jog, be sure to check out these helpful tips and dog running gear recommendations.

Benefits of Running with Your Dog

Running with your dog results in improved physical and mental health for both of you. First off, running is a whole-body exercise that utilizes a wide range of muscles. It also improves your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Moreover, running frequently helps both dogs and humans avoid the trappings of a sedentary lifestyle, including obesity and disease.

What’s more, running is shown to improve mental health in both humans as well as canines. It is also a great way to burn off extra energy that could be transferred to negative behaviors and/or attitudes. Not to mention, running gets you and your dog out and into the world. For this reason, it is a sensory-rich approach to exploring the world around you.

Beyond that, canine companions help motivate their human running partners. Sometimes, just knowing your pup is counting on your consistency is enough to get you out the door on a day you’re dragging. However, dogs can also help pull runners a little bit harder and a little bit longer.

Finally, running partnerships require coordination. As you align your goals and standards with your pup, you strengthen the bond between the two of you. This healthy connection can be fulfilling in more ways than one.


22 Tips for Running with a Dog

A dog seems like an ideal running companion in some ways. Think about how excited your pet is when you grab the leash or mention the word “walk.” Your canine buddy wants to spend time with you, and this is a great chance for you both to have one-on-one time together while getting some exercise. Dogs are pack animals, and yours considers you to be the head honcho. What dog wouldn’t want to go for an invigorating run with the pack leader?

Here are some important tips to make your run a positive and problem-free experience:

22 Tips and Best Gear for Running with Your Dog

Make Sure Your Dog is in Shape

Your dog will need to have the right conditioning to run with you. Just as you wouldn’t start competing in 5K runs without building up to it, your canine friend needs the training that will give them the strength and stamina to keep up. This is especially important if your dog has led a more sedentary life up until now.

Get the Vet’s Okay

Running after squirrels in the backyard and going on regular walks around the neighborhood are both forms of exercise for your dog. However, these activities don’t require nearly as much energy as a sustained jog or run. It’s always a good idea to take your dog in for a wellness check at the vet before beginning a running routine for the two of you. The veterinarian will also make sure your dog is up-to-date on tick and parasite preventatives and make sure to read the Guide to Flea and Tick Season.

Keep in Mind Your Dog’s Breed

The vet can also help determine whether your pup is a good candidate for being your running buddy. Some breeds are great at running and crave the exercise it gives them, while others (Pugs, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas) may not be up to the challenge. Your 12-pound terrier, for example, will not be able to keep up with you the same way a longer-legged pooch would. Some dog breeds are not good candidates for running because of congenital issues like hip dysplasia or breathing issues.

Consider Your Dog’s Social I.Q.

Not all dogs get along with strangers, so be honest with yourself about how well your dog will do around other runners or pedestrians you may meet while running. It can be a chore to constantly monitor your dog’s behavior while the two of you are out for a run. If your dog is excessively territorial, it’s probably best not to draft your animal friend as a running companion. Regardless of your pet’s temperament, make sure they’re wearing an up-to-date rabies vaccination tag.

Be Aware That Age Matters

The key here is to run with a dog that’s in the prime of life. Puppies are still growing and developing, and too much exercise can interfere with that. Older dogs can have health issues like arthritis, kidney disease, and vision problems, and owners aren’t always aware of their limitations. An older dog can be a good running companion, but a visit to the vet is especially important before starting a new running routine with yours.

Train Your Dog to Run on a Leash

Your pet may already be leash trained, but running on a leash is different than walking on one. Start out with short sprints while walking your dog, and vary the amount of time you train as well as the pace. Let your pet get used to the new way of getting around by your side. It’s never a good idea to let your dog run with you unleashed, for her safety and yours.

Work on Voice Commands

This is a great time to strengthen your pup’s attention to voice commands. When the two of you are running, you never know when your dog will become distracted. The “drop it!” command is an important one if you want her or him to stay focused and not bring you up short while running. The old standbys “stay” and “sit” are also important when your dog interacts with other people or animals during a run.

Small, cute, and needs your help to become a runner dog!

Don’t Forget to Warm Up

Warming up before exercise is advised by fitness experts to improve circulation and prevent injuries. It serves another purpose when you’re running with your dog. The more relaxed, slower-paced warmup period gives your pup a chance for elimination, making that less likely to crop up during the run. Also, a big part of your pet’s enjoyment of the outdoors is using his incredibly refined sniffer to check out the environment.

Focus on Safety

It’s vital to keep your pet out of the street and away from traffic. Other runners and bicycle riders can also pose hazards, and it may take time to train your dog to avoid collisions. Simple commands are best. For example, pulling your dog to the side of the road while saying “car!” in a loud, firm voice will teach him to get out of the way of an approaching vehicle.

Keep an Eye Out for Road Debris

Even if you’ve run a particular route before, be aware of any construction debris or litter that may trip up the two of you. In the winter, there may be salt on the roads, so it’s important to wash your dog’s paws after a run. If you’re running in the road, there could be fuel or road tar spills, and you don’t want your pet to lick it off of their paws when you get home.

Groom Your Dog

Dogs pick up dirt and debris when they’re outside running, and giving your pet a good brushing after a run will keep their coat smooth and shiny. It’s also an excellent time to check your dog’s paws for injury and search for ticks to remove before they cause problems. And grooming is a quiet and relaxing way to bond with your dog after a run.

Watch the Weather

Neither you nor your dog should be engaging in strenuous exercise when the temperature outside is extremely hot or cold, and excessive humidity can heighten the effects of each. Running in a light rain can be refreshing, but hold off on the run if there’s any thunder or lightning – it’s not worth the risk for either of you.

Remember That Hydration is Vital

Physical activity uses up the water stores in your body, and it’s the same for your pet. Make sure to bring water for both of you when you’re running together, especially when it’s warm outside. Try carrying a thermos with a cup that you can use to water your dog while you drink directly from the container.

Avoid Overheating

At the height of summer, it’s best to find trails that offer some shade. Dogs sweat through panting, and they can become overheated if they’re not able to dissipate excess heat quickly enough. Hyperthermia, or heat stroke, can be fatal to your pet. Watch for signs of distress like slowing down, stopping, excessive panting or anything that seems out of the ordinary for your dog.

Think About the Running Surface

Be careful when running on asphalt during the summer. Your dog’s paws could get burned when temperatures outdoors are in the eighties or higher. Some dogs will accept booties that protect their paw pads, but others won’t. If it’s hot outside, choose a surface that’s safe for your pet. The same goes for icy weather. You don’t want your dog to slip and fall, possibly taking you down as well.

Find the Right Leash

Depending on your preferences and what works best for your dog, there are various leashes that will work for running together. A basic leash will do when you and your pet are in sync, but a retractable leash gives some leeway for the times your pace doesn’t match. Attaching it to your waistband with a carabiner or clip keeps your hands and arms free.

Use a Dog Harness

Your dog will be much more comfortable with the right harness. You’ll need to make sure she wears one because it distributes the leash pressure evenly and prevents neck strain. The best harnesses are designed to support without chafing your dog’s skin on a long run. A two-ring harness will pull evenly on both sides of your pup, and a backup quick-release buckle adds the most security.

Use Reflective Wear

Just as people often wear reflective gear when running at night, pets should be easily visible to oncoming bicyclists and drivers. You can find reflective collars, leashes, and harnesses to help protect your dog. Highly reflective safety vests are also available for your furry friend.

Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Feeding Schedule

You don’t want to take your dog out for a heavy run too soon after she eats. Enjoy your joint exercise at a time when neither of you recently had a big meal. After eating, a dog’s body focuses on digestion as a human does, and exercising too soon after a meal can cause intestinal cramps.

Be a Good Neighbor

Unless you’re running in a wilderness area, you should clean up after your pooch. There are many different pet waste bag holders available that are lightweight and attach to your waist. Or just carry a few in your pocket to be prepared for that contingency. Some parks and trails offer free waste bags and receptacles, as well as dog watering stations, and you could incur a fine if you don’t follow the rules.

Try Pet Obedience Classes

Running together is a good reason to finally take some pet obedience classes with your dog, and it’s a useful way to train your pet to stay close when you’re in motion. Your dog wants to be good and will be happier if you’re not constantly fussing at him. Not to mention, you’ll be a lot less stressed and can enjoy your outdoor time together.

Get Started

Engaging in an exercise that you enjoy, like running, is a fun way to stay in shape and keep your heart healthy. It can be even more rewarding when you have a companion to run with. Regularly taking your dog for an invigorating run will help your pet avoid obesity and be in top physical form. You’ll also be in better shape, and running together is a healthy way to bond with your pet. Have fun!


Best Gear for a Running Dog

Just as you gear up for a run, your canine training buddy should do the same. Running with your dog requires a little bit of planning but is well worth it. From leashes and harnesses to protective doggy boots, vests, and lights… ensure that your dog has what they need to run.

Leashes

Running dog leashes offer a variety of ways to stay active while keeping your pooch under control. The most popular option is most likely the hands-free leash. This device loops around the waist of the runner to free up their hands.

SHINE HAI Hands-free Waist Dog Leash

The Shine Hai hands-free waist dog running leash features retractable bungees. These expandable sections ensure that the leash offers extensive length without the added bulk. Meanwhile, the leash’s dual handles allow runners to rein in a jumpy or distracted pooch. This leash extends up to 82-inches and can hold up to 150 pounds of weight. It also features reflective stitching that makes it a great choice for evening strolls. Finally, your hands can always remain free thanks to the adjustable waist strap.


oneisall Hands Free Dog Leash

The Oneisall hands-free dog running leash is 8 feet in length. It is suitable for both small and medium breeds. The leash loops around the wearer’s shoulder to ensure they stay hands-free throughout their entire run. Beyond that, this leash is made from durable nylon and features soft mush velvet handles.


The Furry Buddy Hands-free Dog Leash

The Furry Buddy hands-free dog leash features a comprehensive adjustable waistband attached to a shock-absorbing bungee leash. The waistband features an elastic water bottle strap, a waterproof zipper pocket, and a waterproof treat pouch. It also boasts reflective striping. As such, this is a great all-weather hands-free leash for runners who plan on going the distance.


Harnesses

Harnesses are a great way to secure your pup without straining its neck or altering its running stance. A quality running harness should increase a dog’s comfort and protection while running.

Ruffwear – Front Range All-day Adventure Harness

Ruffwear’s All-day Adventure Harness is a great device for dogs that pull on their leash. It features front and rear connection points made of durable aluminum. Meanwhile, the bottom panel is fully padded to ensure your dog does not experience chaffing of any kind. What’s more, it features reflective trim for added safety.


EzyDog Quick Fit Harness

The Ezydof harness is a one-click harness system that is fully adjustable. It boasts a super padded neoprene chest strap to ensure a dog has long-lasting comfort. What’s more, it features reflective stitching for increased roadway visibility in low light conditions. If your dog is one to pull Houdini-like escapes, both the neck and chest area are adjustable for an incredibly snug fit.


Voyager Soft Harness for Pets

This plush faux fur-lined harness is easy to slip on and can be adjusted in multiple places. This ensures it will not slip off in the middle of a brisk run. What’s more, it features a durable metal fastener and a quick-release buckle, because you never know what sort of distractions will have your pooch entranced. Pet owners can also rejoice in the fact that this product is machine-washable. Not to mention, you have your choice between five different colors.


Protective Boots

Protective dog booties create a preventative barrier between your pooch’s paw pads and the ground. Hot pavement, pebbles, sticks, and debris can irritate the soft padding on the bottoms of their feet. Just think of canine booties as your dog’s running shoes.

LONSUNEER Paw Protector Dog Boots

Lonsuneer paw protectors feature high-rise synthetic booties with slip-resistant sole pads. They boast an adjustable hook and loop closure as well as an elastic seam. This makes them easy to slip on but difficult to remove. The boots are flexible and somewhat shape conforming, meaning they fit more like a sock than a traditional show. Nevertheless, they provide all-weather protection and traction.


My Busy Dog Water Resistant Dog Shoes

The My Busy Dog water-resistant dog shoes boast extremely durable anti-slip soles that help your pup grip the ground. Meanwhile, they have durable waterproof uppers with sewn seams. These booties are easy to slip on and off. They have split seam openings and dual Velcro closures to ensure they stay put for long periods.


Tenwell Dog Boots

The Tenwell dog boots feature durable anti-slip soles, breathable mesh uppers, and reflective Velcro closures. The boots feature zipper closures as well for a more secure, snug fit. The product comes in four different sizes and is adjustable to ensure it fits all dog breeds. The bright yellow colorway increases your pup’s visibility in roadways and other potentially dangerous environments. What’s more, these shoes feature waterproof soles.


Doggy Vests

Doggy vests have an assortment of features to keep your dog safe and happy. From cooling to reflection/lighting, your pup can run with you in confidence.

Ruffwear Cooling Dog Vest

If you’re worried about your dog staying cool on a hot summer run, check out this cooling vest. It utilizes lightweight evaporative materials to minimize the effects of heat on your pooch. The vest is made from several layers of material, including a reflective surface material that shuns heat. Meanwhile, the inner layer stores water for evaporation. The anatomical design does not restrict a dog’s movement either. It’s comfortable and tailored for running performance.


SafetyPUP XD Dog Reflective Vest

If you’re someone who runs alongside traffic with your dog, a reflective vest is essential. This safety vest boasts a bright color and ample reflective straps to ensure Fido is visible both day and night. Another great feature is the side utility strap, which allows you to strap on one or two lightweight pooch accessories.


Illumiseen LED Dog Vest

Most dog owners will go to any length to ensure their dog is always safe. This flashy LED dog vest is a good example of canine protection at its best. The dual LED strips that run down the back of the vest supercharge your dog’s visibility and alert drivers of their presence. It is also important to note that a rechargeable battery powers the LED light strips. Of course, the vest is made from superior soft materials and comes in five different sizes.


Water Bowls

Just like humans, canines need to stay hydrated while exercising. However, they don’t have the same skill as we do when it comes to drinking out of thin-necked water bottles. At the same time, no dog owner wants to lug a bowl along for the run. Fortunately, there are many integrated technologies that bring canine hydration to the next level.

Lock Laces Bark Bottle

The Lock Laces Bark Bottle is a leak-proof plastic bottle that filters water and dispenses it into a container for easy drinking. The bottle is 100 percent BPA-free and boasts a carbon filter. This three-in-one product is compact and easy to carry. Best of all, it ensures your pooch is always well hydrated.


JJ Lover Portable Travel Mug

This set of dog water bottles is ideal for running, as they eliminate the need to bring along a bowl. The bottle features an integrated cup that can be clipped into the water bottle to seamlessly dispense water. It is also important to note that the bottle is made of non-toxic BPA-free material. What’s also great about this product is it features a hands-free clip-carrying option.


Sikoon Portable Pet Water Bottle

The Sikoon portable pet water bottle can hold up to 14 ounces of water to ensure your dog stays well hydrated on runs. It boasts an integrated bowl, and water bottle design that allows you to dispense water into a trough for easy lapping. It also has a discrete storage container that can hold anything from poop bags to treats. What’s great is the storage container locks into place. It is also important to note that the waterproof is completely leak-proof thanks to the silica gel seal ring.


Safety Lights

If your dog isn’t keen on wearing a reflective vest, but you are still concerned about increasing his or her roadway visibility, clip-on or collar-based LED lights can be a literal lifesaver.

Dog Collar Safety Light by Aigou

The Aigou LED clip-on flashing collar keychain is sold in sets of five. The lights boast durable stainless steel carabiners that can be connected to any collar for quick and easy visibility. To activate the light, all you must do is push on the touch button. Owners have the option between still and flashing light modes. Not to mention, the lights come in five different colors (orange, white, pink, blue, and yellow).


Illumiseen LED Dog Collar

The Illumiseen LED dog collar comes in six different colors and sizes. It is a discreet and effective way of illuminating your dog. The collar is made from durable waterproof materials and boasts a plastic closure. It has an adjustable light, with rapid pulsing, slow flashing, and steady modes. The LED light is powered by a rechargeable battery that offers a five-hour charge. However, the icing on the cake is the lifetime guarantee.


Higo Pack 2pcs LED Dog Tags

These Higo LED dog tags are too cute to pass up. The bone-shaped LED collar clips might just be a lifesaving measure too. The lights come in red, yellow, and brown housings and boast a playful design that dog lovers will find hard to resist. The lights feature a convenient on/off switch and require disposable batteries. They are small yet bright enough that they can satisfy the visibility demand of both small and large dog breeds.


Poop Bag Dispenser

No one wants to bulk up on accessories when going out for a run. However, poop bags are an essential item for dog owners on the go. The following poop bag dispensers make cleanup easy and hands-free.

Earth Rated Dog Waste Bags with Poop Bag Dispenser

The Earth-Rated dispenser can hold up to 15 waste bags. The pill-shaped dispenser features a screw-off top for easy refills. What’s more, it boasts a hook that allows you to clip it onto nearly any surface. Meanwhile, there is also a small strap with a reliable hook and loop closure for strapping onto a leash.


Pogi’s Poop Bag Dispenser

Pogi’s poop bag dispenser couldn’t be more adorable. This bone-shaped poop bag dispenser boasts a metal carabiner for clipping onto numerous surfaces. It also securely attaches to any leash. The dispenser holds extra-large leak-proof bags that boast a power scent, ensuring you stay clean and smell-free when out on a run.


Final Thoughts

If you’re someone who enjoys running with dogs, the aforementioned gear will help you better meet the needs of both you and your furry friends. After all, you don’t want something as basic as hydration or comfort to come between you and a healthy habit. Innovative products, such as combination bottle bowls and padding running harnesses, help compensate for your most fulfilling running partner. If you get a happy bark, tongue kiss, or a tail wag out of it, you’ll know you did well by your favorite pooch.

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