How to Safely Go Running With Your Dog

Georgina Ushi, DVM
By Georgina Ushi, DVM on Aug. 4, 2023
A woman runs with her dog.

Embarking on a running journey with your furry companion can be an incredibly rewarding and healthy experience for both of you. Before lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement together, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable running routine.

Key Takeaways

  • Before starting a running routine with your dog, consult with your veterinarian.
  • Depending the season, you will need to modify when and where you run with your pup.
  • Be sure to select the right running products (including a running leash, poop bags, and reflector light).

What Breed Is Your Dog?

Numerous dog breeds are renowned for their athleticism and make excellent jogging partners. These breeds usually possess high energy levels, endurance, and a willingness to run alongside their pet parents.

Dog breeds that excel as jogging partners include:

  • Labrador Retriever: Labs are active, friendly, and possess great stamina, making them popular jogging companions.
  • Vizsla: Vizslas are energetic, agile, and love to run. They require regular exercise and make excellent running partners.
  • Australian Shepherd: Aussies are highly intelligent and active dogs that thrive on physical activity. They are known for their endurance and can keep up with long-distance running.
  • Border Collie: Border Collies are incredibly energetic and need plenty of exercise. They excel at various physical activities, including jogging with their human companions.
  • Weimaraner: Weimaraners are muscular, agile dogs with plenty of stamina. They make excellent jogging partners and can keep up with a good pace.
  • German Shorthaired Pointer­: GSPs are energetic, athletic dogs bred for hunting. They require regular exercise and make excellent jogging companions.

Some dog breeds are not ideal jogging partners due to their physical characteristics or lower energy levels. Brachycephalic breeds such as Boston Terriers, Pugs, and English Bulldogs have short muzzles, which can lead to breathing difficulties during exercise due to their unique facial anatomy and elongated soft palate. They may also struggle to cool down efficiently, making them more susceptible to heat-related issues.

Small or toy breeds, including Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Shih Tzu, have shorter legs and may be unable to keep up with the pace and endurance required for jogging. Additionally, their smaller size makes them more susceptible to injuries from jumping or landing, so be cautious with high-impact activities. A brisk walk with your small dog would be less exercise for you, but safer and more enjoyable for your pet.

Giant breeds such as Great Danes and Saint Bernards are prone to joint and skeletal issues, and jogging can potentially exacerbate these problems. 

Individual pups within these breeds can vary, so it’s always best to consider your specific dog’s health, fitness, and activity level before engaging in strenuous exercise like jogging.

How Far Should You Run with Your Dog?

The distance you should run with your dog depends on several factors, including their breed, age, overall health, fitness level, and individual preferences. Before hitting the trail, consider the following:

  • Consult with a veterinarian: Before starting a running routine with your dog, consult with a veterinarian. They will assess your dog’s health, provide specific breed-related advice, and recommend appropriate exercise levels.
  • Age: Puppies have developing bones and joints, so it’s not recommended to engage in intense exercise like running until they are at least a year old. Senior dogs may have reduced stamina and may not be able to handle long distances like they used to. Adjust the running distance based on your dog’s age.
  • Breed: Consider your dog’s breed characteristics. Some breeds like Labs and Border Collies have higher energy levels and endurance, making them more suitable for long-distance running.
  • Build up gradually: Just like humans, dogs need to build up their endurance over time. Start with shorter distances and gradually increase the running distance as your dog’s fitness level improves.
  • Watch for signs of fatigue or distress: Monitor your dog during and after each run. Look for signs of exhaustion, excessive panting, limping, or any signs of discomfort. If your dog shows signs of fatigue or distress, stop running, provide them with cool water, and let them rest. In the event of an emergency, like heatstroke, contact a veterinarian immediately.
  • Consider weather conditions: Because dogs do not sweat like we do, they are susceptible to heatstroke. Avoid running with them during the hottest parts of the day, especially in hot and humid climates.

What Time of Day Should You Run with Your Dog?


During hot summer months, avoid running with your dog during the hottest parts of the day to prevent heatstroke and paw pad injuries from hot pavement:

  • Run early in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler.
  • Find shaded routes or trails that provide relief from direct sunlight.
  • Test the pavement temperature by placing the back of your hand on it. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.


Cold weather also requires special considerations to keep your dog safe and comfortable:

  • Avoid running during extreme cold snaps, especially if the temperature drops below freezing. Some breeds like the Siberian Husky and Great Pyrenees are more tolerant of cold weather because of their heavy coat, but always watch for signs of discomfort.
  • If you run in icy conditions, consider using dog booties to protect their paws from cold surfaces and potential injury.
  • Plan runs during daylight hours or when visibility is good to ensure safety on icy or snow-covered paths.

Transitional Seasons (Spring and Fall)

Spring and fall tend to be mild, but it’s still important to consider certain factors:

  • Spring can bring rainy weather, so be prepared with appropriate gear for both you and your dog, such as waterproof jackets or booties.
  • Fall temperatures can vary, so be mindful of chilly mornings or evenings and dress your dog appropriately.
  • Adjust the timing of your runs to account for changing daylight hours.
Be sure to monitor your dog’s behavior during and after runs, pay attention to signs of discomfort or distress, and adjust your running schedule accordingly. If extreme weather conditions are present, modify or postpone the run to ensure safety.

9 Products for Keeping Your Dog Safe While Running

Running Leash

When selecting a running leash for your dog, consider the following:

Control and safety: A shorter leash can provide more control over your dog, which is important in crowded or high-traffic areas. It allows you to quickly guide or redirect your dog’s movements, which can be crucial for their safety and the safety of others.

Stride and pace­: A longer leash may give your dog more freedom to explore and move ahead, but it can also lead to tangling or tripping hazards if they move unpredictably. Additionally, a longer leash can affect your running stride and pace, potentially causing you to trip or lose balance.

There are a few leash options to keep in mind when selecting what works best for you and your pup:

Hands-Free Waist Leash: A hands-free waist leash is designed to be worn around your waist or hips, allowing you to run with your hands free. These leashes typically have an adjustable waistband and a bungee or shock-absorbing feature that helps to reduce jolts and strain on both you and your dog.

Bungee Leash: A bungee leash, such as the Tuff Mutt Hands-Free Bungee Leash or the Shed Defender Shock Absorbing Bungee Three Padded Handles Reflective Dog Leash, has a stretchable section or built-in elastic that absorbs the shock and minimizes the impact of sudden movements or changes in pace. This feature provides a more comfortable experience for both you and your dog while running.

Adjustable Length Leash: An adjustable length leash, like the FearLess Pet Padded Handle Adjustable Dog Leash, allows you to modify the leash’s length based on your preferences and the running environment. Some leashes have multiple attachment points or loops that let you vary the length, providing flexibility and control during your runs.

Dog Harness

The decision between a harness and a leash depends on your dog’s specific needs and your preferences as a runner. Harnesses are generally considered safer for running because they reduce the risk of neck injuries, especially if your dog abruptly lunges or changes direction.

They also minimize the chance of a collar slipping off or becoming too tight during vigorous activity. If your dog tends to pull excessively during runs, a harness can offer better control and reduce strain on their neck.

Collar With ID Tags

When running with your dog, ensure that they have identification tags, in case they become separated from you.

If your dog goes missing during a run and is found by someone else, having identification tags greatly increases the chances of a quick reunion. ID tags provide a quick and visible way for people to identify your dog and contact you if you get lost or separated.

When attaching tags to your dog’s collar, make sure they are securely fastened, and your information is up to date. It’s also a good idea to consider adding a secondary form of identification, such as a microchip, which provides a permanent means of identification even if the tags get lost or damaged.

Reflectors and LED Safety Lights

Reflectors and LED lights on a collar or leash, such as with the Nite Ize SpotLit LED Disc-O Select Dog Collar Light or the PATPAE Safety Water Resistant Flashing Light LED Dog Leash, enhance the visibility of your dog, making them more noticeable to others. When illuminated by headlights or other light sources, the reflective materials on the collar or the emitted light from LED lights can help alert others to the presence of your dog, reducing the risk of accidents or collisions.

Attachable LED lights can be clipped onto your dog’s collar, leash, or harness.

Reflective Collar or Harness

A reflective collar or harness increases your dog’s visibility, especially during low-light conditions. It helps make them more visible to motorists, cyclists, and other runners, reducing the risk of accidents. Some examples include the Pawtitas Soft Adjustable Reflective Padded Dog Collar and the Julius-K9 IDC Powerharness Nylon Reflective No Pull Dog Harness.

Poop Bags

As a responsible pet parent, it’s important to clean up after your dog’s waste in public spaces. Leaving dog waste behind can be unsightly, unhygienic, and can negatively impact the environment.

Carrying poop bags while running ensures that you are always prepared to clean up after your dog. Some helpful products include Arm & Hammer Assorted Disposable Waste Bag Refills and The Original Poop Bags Countdown USDA Certified Biobased Rolls.

Dog Booties

The need for dog booties when running with your dog depends on various factors, including the running surface and the weather conditions.

Dog booties can be beneficial for protecting your dog’s paws from hot surfaces such as asphalt or concrete during hot weather. These surfaces can become extremely hot and potentially cause burns or discomfort to your dog’s paw pads. Booties provide a barrier between their paws and the hot ground, reducing the risk of injury.

They can also be useful for running on cold surfaces like icy or snow-covered terrain. These surfaces can cause discomfort or frostbite in your dog’s paws. Booties provide insulation and protection against freezing temperatures, reducing the risk of paw pad injuries.

If you frequently run on rough or abrasive surfaces like rocky trails or gravel paths, dog booties, such as Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boots and Pawz Waterproof Dog Boots, can provide additional protection against cuts, abrasions, or irritation caused by sharp objects or rough terrain.

Portable Water Bowl

Dogs should have access to water regularly, especially during exercise or physical activity. It’s generally recommended to offer water every 15 to 30 minutes during intense exercise or whenever they appear thirsty.

Having a portable water bowl allows you to provide fresh water for your dog, ensuring they stay hydrated throughout the run. This helps prevent issues related to dehydration, overheating, and exhaustion. Some suggested products include Mr. Peanut’s Premium Collapsible Silicone Dog & Cat Bowls and Pounce + Fetch Foldable Travel Dog & Cat Bowl.

Flea and Tick Protection

Before jogging with your dog, make sure they are up to date on their flea and tick protection. Fleas and ticks can be present throughout the year, so maintaining proper preventive measures is important for your dog’s health and well-being.

Featured Image:

Georgina Ushi, DVM


Georgina Ushi, DVM


Dr. Georgina Ushi completed her undergraduate education at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she earned a Bachelor of...

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