Get running with your dog

Exercising with your dog is a great way to bond while getting both of you in shape. For some dogs, part of their everyday exercise could be a run.

We've put together some advice if you and your pooch fancy getting yourselves running. No matter what level you're currently at, remember to ease yourselves into it.

 

What to think about before you start running

It's always a good idea to see your vet before you introduce a new exercise your dog doesn't normally do. They'll be able to advise you on your dog's current fitness levels and if there's a limit to how much they can manage.

Wait until a puppy is fully grown before taking them running. There's plenty of other exercises you can do with them in the meantime.

Not all dogs will be able to do the same distance, or the same amount of exercise. Smaller breeds might find longer distances more difficult. We've based our plan on building up to run a moderate route, which you can then build on when your dog is fitter. Just remember to keep an eye on how they're doing and if they are struggling at all then it's time to reassess.

Running won't suit all dogs. Some dogs with medical issues or breeds with flatter faces might struggle so it's best to find different exercises to do with them.

 

Our plan

Step 1 – the route

You should have a rough idea of how long you and your dog can comfortably walk, which will help you plan a route. We recommend that the whole route should take around 20-30 minutes to walk but this will vary from dog to dog depending on breed and your dog’s current fitness level.

 

Step 2 – walk it

Now that you’ve planned your route, walk it with your dog. Take breaks if either of you get tired at first.

Walk the same route every day and try to build yourselves up. Once you can both comfortably walk it in 20-30 minutes and without stopping, you’re ready for the next step.

 

Step 3 – jogging

You’re now ready to build your speed. At first, try walking for five minutes, then jogging for two, then go back to walking for five minutes and so on. Your jog should be gentle at first. As your dog gets used to jogging, increase your jogging time. Keep doing this until you can both comfortably jog the whole route.

 

Step 4 – the run

Now it’s time to run. Like with jogging, build up to running slowly. Try running for a few minutes at a time at first and then drop back to a jog. Make sure your dog doesn’t get too tired and take a break if they need it.

Slowly increase the time that you are properly running until both of you can run the whole thing. Now you’re ready to go running with your dog every day!

 

Top tips for running with your dog

  • Always work at your dog’s pace.
  • Make sure your dog stays hydrated and take plenty of water for you both.
  • Once you know how far you can both run for, you can vary your route.
  • Running shouldn’t be their only exercise – remember playtime and walkies, too. You can find out how much exercise your dog needs and build a plan around this.
  • Always build them up gradually. They won’t be able to run the whole route straight away.
  • Beware of the weather and don’t run in the heat. It’s best to exercise early in the morning or late in the evening during hot weather but you might have to avoid running at all if it gets really hot. Stop running and offer your dog water if they show any signs that they’re struggling with the heat.
  • Leave it at least half an hour after eating before exercising. If you feed your dog after exercising, make sure they don’t gulp it down too quickly.
  • Have your vet’s number on your phone – and take your phone with you! – in case anything goes wrong while you’re running.