Five Easy Steps to Running with Your Dog
You know your dog loves to run; which dog doesn’t?! We love running too. Being in the outdoors trekking or running is a no brainer.
Dogs can make fun and loyal running companions with some basic training.
Deciding to run with your pet dog is a great way to get fit and healthy whilst building a strong bond between the dog and human. To learn how to successfully run with your dog, follow our easy steps below.
Get the Basics Right:
- Your Dog Needs to be the Right Dog and Age
- They should not be a toy, designer, or brachy breed
- They should not be too young or old to run
- They should be physically fit
- Your Dog Needs a Strong Recall
- They should have reliable recall when off leash to multiple recall cues
- Your Dog Can Loose-Leash and Off Leash Walk
- They should be able to stay by your side with and without distraction
Without these three basics, running with your dog is going to be difficult at best and dangerous at worst. You should be able to recall your dog and walk with them off leash past distractions without any break in your dog’s focus.
Once you have the basics right, it’s time to prepare for running with your dog:
- Decide upon how you want to run with your dog, loose-leash, harness, or off leash. Typically, you should use either loose-leash or use a harness and once comfortable, progress to off leash.
- Pick a side which your dog should run and stick to it. This should be the same side as your dog walks, typically on the right.
- Prepare snacks to be used for positive reinforcement training as a reward for the correct running behaviors.
To start, you will want to alternate between walking and running, with a 3:1 ratio as ideal. So, for every minute of running, walk for three minutes. After three weeks, progressively increase running segments and decrease walking segments, with a target of ratio of 1:3 (three minutes running, one minute of walking).
- Start with a loose-leash and your dog sat by your side looking at you. Keep the leash loose with no tension. Have a treat pouch ready.
- When you take your first step, you should condition the first step by saying, “walk” or “let’s walk”, your dog naturally walking by your side (should be loose leash trained). Reward your dog with a treat after ten steps with the hand closest to your dog.
- Keep walking, however, progressively increase your speed, and as your dog’s gait changes, reward with a treat and keep moving. Condition the increased speed with “run” or “let’s run”. Remember, to increase the speed gradually.
- Keep rewarding your dog every ten steps for consistent desired behavior (e.g. loose leash, looking at you, keeping pace and not advancing ahead of you).
- Reduce the frequency of treats as your dog starts to learn the behavior consistently. With consistent practice your dog will be running by your side after a few weeks.
Some final tips to close with:
- Always make sure your dog is warmed up and ready to go. Don’t run your dog hard when she hasn’t had the chance to warm her muscles up.
- Bring water and a dog bowl with you, ideally in a rucksack, so you can offer your dog regular opportunities to drink and rehydrate.
- After your run with your dog, spend a good five minutes slowly walking to allow your dog to cool down after exercising.