Running with a Dog

My running partner is tall, dark, handsome, fit, loving and always ready for adventure.


His name is Jet, and he is my dog. Training, treats, patience, and finally, Jet is a great companion on my morning runs.

Running is a great way for you and your dog to stay fit, expend energy in a positive way (rather than eating shoes), develop a stronger bond, enhance obedience training, and for women, provide a sense of security. Thinking about running with your dog?

Consider Your Dog
Athletic, lean, medium-to-larger breed, dogs are best suited for distance running. Adjust the distance and pace for your smaller dog. According to veterinarian Kurt Miller, owner of Winnetka Animal Hospital, a dog should be around a year-and-a-half before they undertake a regular running routine, which allows the cartilage to grow and strengthen. The repetitive motion of a running routine is different than a dog just running around.

Start With Sit
A well-trained dog is necessary for a running partner. Focus on the fundamentals: sit, stay, heel, and come. Train your dog to walk on your left side, rather than ahead of you. Hold a treat in your left hand at hip level, to keep him attentive.

Walk Before You Run
Ease into running with a walk to warm up, then alternate 1 minute running, 1 minute walking for a total of 5 minutes of running. Be prepared as he tries dash ahead when you run. Stick with the 1 minute intervals until he is consistently running at your side. This slow start will allow your dog’s fitness to increase and, according to Dr. Miller, toughen the pads on his paws for the abrasive action of running.

Develop a Routine

  • Announce to your dog, “Ready to Run?”
  • Use a hands-free leash that he associates with running.
  • Bring small treats to encourage and reward him to stay at your side.
  • Walk for at least 10 minutes so he can do his business.
  • Run the same route, extending the distance as he progresses.

Think Safety
Dr. Miller cautions against giving food or water an hour before or after a run. Dog’s stomachs can twist, a condition called bloat. Allow your dog a few sips of water after a run, but wait an hour before giving a bowl.

As I dress for my run, Jet is nearby with a pleading look in his eyes. When the leash appears, his tail goes crazy and he heads for the door. His enthusiasm energizes me as we hit the road together.

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