Playing and running outdoors are a couple ways that dogs love to spend their time. A great way to motivate yourself while bonding with your pup is to include them in your running routines.

Like humans, dogs need daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. It’s estimated that 52% of dogs are overweight or obese in the United States. But actively walking or running with your dog is a practice that can benefit the health and longevity of both you and your pup and energize you both for the day.

Many dogs can be trained to be the ultimate running partners, but the amount and time you workout with your dog is largely determined by the breed; some are capable of running up to 25 to 35 miles per week while others make great walking companions. It’s important for dog owners to know their pet’s limits.

If you’re interested in including your dog in your morning or evening running routine? Check out these essential tips for running with fido:

A vet examines a dog.

1. Check with your Vet

If you’re not sure whether your dog is healthy enough to run, check with your vet first. Professionals will let you know if there are any health concerns and can provide you with advice about what exercises are safe for your pup. Your dog may be healthy, but it’s still best to seek the advice of a vet because they may recommend dietary plans to compliments your exercise routine.

A puppy running in the middle of a field.

2. Start them at the right age

If you have a young puppy, it might be best to avoid running off the bat. Running on hard surfaces can damage joints and bones that aren’t yet fully formed. Experts state that a young dog’s growth plates–cartilage near the ends of bones–don’t start closing until 8-12 months, but it varies depending on breed. If you own a larger breed, wait until they are at least 18 months old because it takes their bodies longer for growth plates to seal up. Some breeds shouldn’t do much running at all because they’re not built running’s physical exertion; you may want to consider other exercises instead. It’s always important to consult your vet!


3. Warm up and Start Slow

Once you’re ready to run with your pup, make sure to warm up! It’s important to start off slow. Just like people, too much, too fast can cause your dog injury. Plan a beginner’s 5k training plan that is safe for you and your dog. It will help you pup progress at a safe pace. Combining intervals of walking and jogging, this plan helps you and your dog recover and catch your breath.

Before starting your run, make sure you warm up with your pet. Give Buddy and yourself a few minutes to walk or jog slowly. It’s essential to warm up muscles to protect against injuries.

Best Advice: Always stop to take a break, especially if it looks like your dog is breathing heavy. Never run with your pup if it’s too hot outside. Since your canine pals have a layer of fur, they could overheat quickly! When you do run in warm weather, always bring fresh water to rehydrate! Stop to rehydrate every 10 minutes until you know how much exercise your dog can stand.

A dog paws lay on the floor of a carpet.

4. Watch their paws!

Keep in mind where you run with your dog. A hot blacktop, icy path, or surface where there may be road debris or glass can cause paw injuries. Be mindful if your dog starts to limp or lick its feed. Before and after running, inspect your dog’s pad for cuts or bruises. Make sure to take breaks to check if your dog is ok.

Best Advice: Try to run in the shade and avoid hot blacktop, asphalt, or sand; these surface can burn your pup’s paws. You can test a surface’s temperature by placing your hand or a bare foot on an area for 10 seconds. A surface that is too hot for you will be too hot for your dog.

Dog walking on leash on a wooden bridge.

5. Get the proper gear

Purchase a 4 to 6-foot leash for your dog. Longer leashes can be troublesome when jogging. Your dog’s nose should be parallel to you knee and your arms, straight down at your side, holding the leash right near the collar. This helps them get used to the pace. During this essential teaching stage, it’s helpful to keep this position during walking. Give your pups freedom to walk, but keep them close for a few minutes to show them the ropes. Praise them by giving them more space to roam as a reward for their obedient behavior.

It’s important to make your run enjoyable for both owner and pet. Taking the necessary precautions to make sure your dog is healthy and safe during walking or jogging can make your time together easy. Once they’ve mastered the art of running on a leash, your pup may be excited and willing to run with you!  In the long run, running with your dog can help both of you keep excess weight off and stimulate your health for the better.

Once you’re prepared to follow the safety guidelines for exercising with your dog, you can hit the trail!