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Running with your Dog - A Beginners Guide

Running with your dog can be a great way to spend some quality time together and ensure you’re both getting the exercise that you need! As virtual race providers, we’re passionate about our running community reaching their personal fitness goals and encourage you to get involved in our virtual races, whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner, a new parent who loves running with a pram, or a dog-owner who wants to train with their canine companion! Take a look at this beginners guide and top tips for running with your dog!

Consider your dog’s breed before running

Before you begin running with your dog, you should first ensure that your dog’s breed is suited to running for long distances. Some of the best breeds for long-distance running include Collies, Golden Retrievers and Huskies. Greyhounds, Salukis and other Lurcher breeds are ideal companions for short sprints due to their bursts of speed. Unfortunately, brachycephalic breeds (short muzzle) such as pugs and French bulldogs do not make great running dogs and can only handle a short, light jog or just a brisk walk. To avoid health complications, you should avoid running with these breeds altogether during the warm, summer months.

Consider your dog’s age and health condition

Before setting the pace, you should also consider your dog’s age and health condition. It isn’t safe to run with young puppies as their bones are still growing so with most breeds you should wait until they are 18-months old. You should also avoid running with older dogs that suffer from joint issues. If you’re not sure whether your dog is ready to run with you, then arrange a check-up with your vet.

Start slow and build up your pace together

When you first start running with your dog, it’s important to avoid setting challenging time and distance goals and remember that running with your dog should be a fun and enjoyable activity for you both. If your dog needs to stop to do its business, sniff a few spots or enjoy a treat, then that’s perfectly fine! Try to start off running slowly and gradually build up your pace together before challenging yourself to a virtual 5k race.

Pushing your dog to run too hard can result in hyperventilation and breathing difficulties, so stay mindful that when your dog is panting heavily it may be time for a cool down and a water break.

Make sure you’re in control

If you’re planning to run with your dog on a lead, then it’s essential that they can walk to heel, and you feel in control. If your dog isn’t ready to run with you and pulls on the lead it could result in injuries and collisions. If you’re happy for your dog to run off the lead, then make sure you are able to get their attention with recall if they run too far ahead.

It’s also a great idea to introduce speed cues in order for you to set the running pace for both you and your dog. Once they are walking to heel, establish a speed cue such as ‘let’s go’ to let them know it’s time to pick up the pace and go faster. Combining short bursts of running with your walking pace is an effective way to teach your dog the speed cue. You can also use cues such as ‘whoa there’ to slow your dog’s pace down.

Pack the essentials

There is now a wide range of equipment available to help you run with your dog safely, including different types of belts, harnesses and attachments. Explore your options and choose equipment that you feel comfortable using, but also doesn’t restrict your dog’s movement or cause any discomfort when running. If you’re embarking on a long-distance run with your dog, you may need to bring some extra drinking water and a portable water bowl. You should also remember to pack the regular dog walking essentials such as ‘dog poop bags’ and a tasty treat.

Run a virtual race with your dog!

Discover our range of virtual running events at ACE Races and enter a race near you! Our races can be completed anytime, anywhere, and competitors are more than welcome to bring their doggy companion for the distance!

So whether you’re ready to complete a 5k virtual race, 10k virtual race, or even a half marathon or full marathon in as many sessions as you like, enter a virtual race with your dog today!