How do you run with a dog?

after my first & ONLY race.

after my first & ONLY race.

As we’ve previously established I’m not really a runner.

Sure if you wanna play a game of BADMINTON or KICKBALL Im your woman—-but regular, traditional, non-tutu’ed running? Not so much for me.

Im always up for MarshmallowGunChase!

always up for MarshmallowGunChase!

Yes if you wanna hold my hand & pull me along there’s a *chance* Ill follow and run behind you.



Traditional running was not so much for me—–until it was.

Recent life changes (Coop! Coop!) coupled with cooler climes (yay OAKtown!) have sparked this misfit to wonder (again) about exploring the joy of the run.

Even though in my new ‘hood it will look more like *this* than the comparatively flat streets of Austin:

ahhh hilly goodness.

ahhh hilly goodness.

I  cant seem to shake the notion running seems the natural progress of things (my whining about not getting in enough steps coupled with a happy new canine companion)—yet there’s one facet which feels completely UNNATURAL to me:

How on earth do I train Coop to lollop happpily beside me?

  • I watch some runners virtually dragging their canine behind them (given Coop’s energy I doubt this will be my problem).
  • I see some runners essentially being *dragged* along by their dog (given Coop’s energy this could, in fact, be me).
  • I spy some runners with canines at their side until said dog spies a rat (it IS Oakland) & then all well-behaved bets are off.

As a result, before I even attempt, I knew I had to look to those wiser and more experienced than I.


What are *your* tips for teaching/training my lovable bundle of boundless boxer energy to best run beside me?


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    • says

      You’re right Kristina, a body harness is gentler than a collar because it doesn’t hurt doggie when you tug on the leash. Our Blaster was already trained to listen to my husband when they started to run. If he goes too fast, hubby would just give the leash a gentle pull and tell him “slow down”.

  1. says

    First thing is his age–is he one yet? I think there’s a general rule of thumb to wait until they are one in order to let them get through growth. Then start slowly, gradually, and with a short lead. Like people, they need to ease into it. And even though he has incredible energy, never take him too far…I regret doing that with my whippet, and I think it led to him burning out on running early on (like age 4). Good luck and enjoy it!

  2. Toni @Runninglovingliving says

    Well unfortunately I have no tips because I have a fat Chihuahua I can barely get to walk…lol! Love Coop, he is so adorable!!!!

  3. says

    Short distances at first and ease into it. Plus, expect lots of potty breaks – for the dog not you. 😉 My Coop only likes to run with me on trails off a leash now. He doesn’t like me controlling the pace on a leash. He’s stubborn like that.

  4. says

    MissZippy is right: he has to be old enough and doesn’t grow anymore.

    I would google it if I were you. Like running programs, there must be running with your dog plans too.

    I was excited that when we got Bella I could take her for a run but she doesn’t like it. It’s not fun for her and me to go running together. And she could only come on the easy runs because I can’t stop for her during tempo or interval sessions.

    So we gave it a couple of tries but it didn’t work out and now we’re more happy with our daily walks (and as you know our long distance walking that we have just started).

    good luck!

  5. says

    well i didn’t do much training for running to my eight pound pup but i remember my mom training our massive great Pyrenees when we were younger and the only thing i remember is that the dog always has to be on the same side of you when on a leash so it becomes a habit.

  6. says

    You look great after a race!!!

    I’m training my dog (a Hungarian Vizsla) to run with me right now. I think you need to

    1) make sure the dog gets proper exercise otherwise, so that they are not tired nor hyper when you start running

    2) train the dog to walk beside you first (using a clicker and treats – you can most likely find videos on YouTube); then you can upgrade to running.

    3) start slowly, with short distances

    Let me know how it goes!

  7. says

    If he’s an obedient walker/leash-trained, it shouldn’t be a problem…if you just pick up your pace, he’ll keep up with you and speed up/slow down as you do, or with a yank of the leash. If he’s not great at listening (and as others said, I don’t know his age or personality), a few sessions with a good dog trainer can be invaluable in teaching him commands and making sure he will listen to you if you are approached by an unleashed dog, if he catches sight of a squirrel, etc. I used to run with both my dogs, but 200 pounds of them vs. 145 pounds of me proved to be a little much. So now I only take the smaller one (60 lb female pit bull, two years old). I never run her more than two miles; it’s not good for their joints. She has energy in spades and loves to trot along (we’re jogging — about a 9.5 min/mile pace), but the most important thing is that we do it safely: she is a good listener and is not distracted by people, dogs, animals, cars, noises, birds, etc. Good luck! It’s fun and so good for the dog – and you!

  8. says

    we actually take our dog to hike more but when we do run her, it’s short sprints. Totally wears them out! walk tight on the leash, sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 3-5 minutes, repeat.

  9. says

    Keeping an eye on the responses. I’ve tried running with my golden retriever and she has no interest in it. After a half a mile, she just sits down. Maybe I need to just do really really short distances with her to start.

  10. Amanda says

    I need help with this, too.
    My lab DRAGS me so much I’ve stopped running with her.

  11. says

    I think HappinessSavouredHot has it right: Start with training Coop to walk beside you. Then you can move on to a run. I’ve got Frodo walking beside me, then I power walk, and he trots along. I’m pretty sure he’d like a bit of a run, but also know he’s not going to be able to run very long at his size!

    Also, watch the heat when you run. Dogs can overheat easily in the summer weather. Dogs with shorter snouts (ie, Coop) may have more difficulty breathing on a run, and may need to stop and rest more frequently.

    You may want to bring a collapsable water dish. I’ve actually seen water bottles with attached dishes for dogs at the pet shops.

  12. MizFit says

    AWESOME. I have a trainer coming. I have a water dish clippy collapsible thing. I have no ego tied up in how long or fast we run. I want this to ALL BE FUN FOR HIM or we wont do it…

  13. says

    This took me years with Tals! Like they said above, teach him to walk with you first– a harness is great for the tugging. Once he walks behaved, start slowly running. The heat is brutal, like someone else mentioned. Our boxer heats up so badly that my dad gives him an entire water bottle during his runs. I have a Gulpy that works great!

  14. Runner girl says

    PLease take this all slowly and don’t let your dog get over heated.

    It’s good you have a trainer because once Coop is obedient the running will come.

  15. Lindsey says

    Practice. Practice walking with your pup next to you, use a harness versus a collar, keep the leash short, and try to get him use to staying near your heels (a gentle tug will remind him). Use this time as a training opp from distractions– see that other dog? Tug. “No”. Keep on truckin. Advance to running when he seems comfortable here. All dogs are different, but you’ll figure him out. My dog demands a lot of praise… so as a huff and puff up the hill, I have to say “good boy!” to keep his energy up :) OH–and I always bring a water bottle running and have trained him to drink from that.
    Good luck! There really is nothing better than a four-legged running buddy.

  16. says

    You’d think I would be the expert since I run with my dog and love to talk and post pics all the time. Fact is, until she was older, she always pulled me along behind her. That being said, I have a few tips.

    Because of the way that boxers noses are shaped, shorter and pushed up, they sometimes have difficulty breathing on the run. Just keep an eye on him.

    Teach him to walk with you first, so he learns the appropriate cues. You can try a walk run combo, just like a new runner to gradually introduce the idea.

    Use a halter or a “Gentle Leader.” the latter gives you control without hurting the dog. Again, I’m not sure how it will fit with a boxer’s nose.

    A dog needs to build endurance just like a human. Start slow and gradually build distance.

    Because dogs don’t complain they will happily run themselves into the ground. You need to look for signs of over doing it. Trouble breathing, suddenly dragging behind, slow recovery.

    Have fun. I know from experience that dogs make the best running partners.

  17. says

    Looks like you’ve gotten great advice already! Start slow, short and easy. Make it fun and build from there. Good luck!

  18. says

    I take my dog on runs with me and he does the weave back and forth. The time I have best control is if I wrap the leash around my body, your body weight helps hold them back. I have also heard praise of the easy walker harness which essentially makes them walk in a circle if they pull.

  19. says

    Alas, I can be of no assistance. My 12 year old pug is NO the fit dog. At all. He walks and then lays down in the grass.

  20. says

    I sure wish I had some answers. We have tried many times to run with our cocker spaniels. After many near-falls, trips, and barely more than a walk pace, we gave up. I get a bit envious when I see people running with their dogs. There’s one girl I see most mornings and her cute cocker spaniel is just trotting along happily beside her.

  21. says

    After Teddy Bear learned how to walk beside me (without pulling)…I attempted to run with him. Actually, I ran and walked with him first. The second time, we ran for a short distance. He did great! I could tell by his face he was having a blast!

    Personally (I’m definitely no expert), I think it’s good to start things slow and increase the distance as you progress…just like we humans would.

    So happy to see you got a dog!!!! He is a CUTIE!!!!

  22. says

    I thought training my dog to run with me would be a lot harder than it was. But since I stuck with it and took him for every other one of my runs (so like twice a week), he has picked up on a lot. At first, he was dragging behind because he lacked motivation.

    Now I get him all excited to “go on a run” with me. He knows what that means now. I also kind of accidentally trained him to speed up with me when I say “let’s go!” in a really cheery voice. Any time he starts dragging, I say let’s go and he gets all excited and picks up the pace. I look at him and act very excited like we should be going faster. And it works. Maybe that isn’t the most helpful advice, but it worked for me.

    Just stick with it and you will see improvement. The first few runs are horrible, but it’s just like training them to walk.

  23. says

    This is so up my alley!!! My boxer Jakey LOVES to run!! We actually take him on a nightly lap around the hay field (he runs in front of our 4 wheeler) and I kid you not– he gets up to 25 mph!!

    As you can imagine, I’m pretty boring for him when we go on runs since I’m such a slow poke in comparison. I did my very first trail race (5 miles) with Jakey and we won a medal for the first human/pet duo to cross the line. (Go Jake!!)

    Anyway, I digress– what helps Jakey not want to drag me along behind him is using a harness. It goes around the front of his chest and under his belly. He stays in front (helps you not trip from the weaving back and forth), but prevents him from pulling.

    But first and foremost, having loose leash walking down pat will be a godsend.

  24. says

    I wanted a day to run with me in the early mornings. I told my husband that I wanted a dog or a treadmill. We have a treadmill. :)

  25. says

    No good tips… I have tried to run with Clark but it is just not his cup of tea. He would rather stop, smell things, and pee than run in a continuous line. So we just settle for walks and I run on my own.

  26. says

    Have fun with it, be patient and correct at times. 4 ft. leash and martingale collar. I run with 2 of my dogs, race with one and run with more than 50 shelter dogs on a rotating basis with the program I started (

  27. Dario says

    Look up ‘Canicross’ – a European based sport where you run with your dog. There are lots of races in England and France, though I think the sport has yet to take hold in the USA. Essentially you run with a waistbelt and your dog attached to you via a bungee line. There are a lot of training tips on how to get started, how to motivate your dog etc. If you have a specific question I will try to answer it.

  28. says

    When you get this figured out, let me know! Sasha will only jog at a light pace with me and if I do anything over 2 miles I am dragging her along. 😉

  29. Kaelin says

    I am so happy you and Coop are ready to hit the road together!! I run with my dog most days for about 30-45 minutes. We started with basic obedience – “heel”, “leave it”, “sit” on long walks. Once she was used to that, we picked up the pace. Occasionally, she does pull me when she spots another furry animal, but a quick correction is all it takes to get her back on track. She is an awesome running buddy! Always ready to go, rain or shine!

  30. says

    no tips from me. i tried to take my basset hound running and that was a sad mistake. he laid down every 4 feet 😉

  31. MIZ says

    this made me laugh out loud as I CAN SEE *ME* being the one to plop down every four feet!

  32. says

    No running with our dogs… Just hiking… LOTS OF HIKING. The dogs are quite motivating… My sister’s dog always rips down trees and then proceeds to carry the tree with him the entire time… Running up behind us and WACKING US with it!! Thanks Loki, THANKS!

  33. says

    I think you need to teach Coop how to WALK beside you before you try to teach him to RUN beside you.

    And of course with your ever-present patience and love! :)

  34. MizFit says

    GOOD GOSH YES. totalllly info gathering now. the HEEL training merely walking has already commenced.

  35. debby says

    My one tip is that I use two different commands. For obedience training ‘heel ‘is traditionally used. This means that the dog is supposed to stay in one particular position right next to your knee. For some dogs they tend to ‘crowd ‘you in their attempt to do this. So I use ‘ walk nice ‘ when they are supposed to stay beside me and walk at a pace similar to mine. They seem to understand …

  36. says

    Both of my dogs love (!!!!) running with me and my husband. They always got the basic gist of the whole thing, but they became much better at the FOCUS part of the equation after we did obedience training. They became much better at being GOOD in general after obedience training.

  37. Kim Bouchard says

    I use a head collar and a 4 ft. leash. It pulls her gently by the chin. She stays right by my side with the leash loose. She knows the command “leave it” which I use when we see a squirrel, bunny or this morning it was a deer. She’ll look longingly, but come back to a heel. Training has been a challenge with my crazy pup, but she learned how to be a great running partner immediately. Good luck, we enjoy our morning run!

  38. says

    I wish I could give you tips. I really don’t have any. I had a dog growing up who I would run with and she would just run along side me. I guess I got lucky that way. The dog that is “technically” mine–I stole him from an ex roommate who wasn’t taking care of him even though he had rescued him from an equally bad situation before. I lived in a dorm at the time so my dad offered to let Ralph, my orange beagle bassette live with him until I got my own place and now he won’t give Ralph back because he is an empty nester–but I digress, anyway Ralph was never really a runner until he slimmed down on long afternoon hikes. When I go home to visit, he always seems to want to run but I never had to work on it with him because he likes to be a step ahead but always keeps his eye on me so he runs along side of me and stares at me to make sure I don’t leave his side. It kind of just worked out that way.

  39. cheryl says

    I had a dog that would stay by my side on streets, but would go off and chase rabbits in the desert. She would always find her way back to me. Looking back on this she would have followed me anywhere…for as long as I wanted her to. Until she would have keeled over from exhaustion or heat stroke. Dogs can’t tell you when they are done, hot, thirsty or hurt. I would never make a dog run beside me again.

  40. says

    Someday my boyfriend and I will finally get a dog. One of the requirements is that we can take it hiking or I can run with it! I’m thinking a lab.

  41. sherijung says

    I must chime in here since Maggie and I became runners at the same time in 2007. We fall under category 3 (except it’s squirrels and cats in our neighborhood). I agree with those who recommend that you master the walk before trying to run, and even if you never run with Coop, regular walks are an absolute must, the duration is really determined by the energy level of your dog. That being said, running with Maggie would not be fun at all without using a gentle leader, which gives me control of her head. She loves to go with me anytime, no coaxing required. But she’s in her element when we go to a regional park that allows her off leash. There are many in the east bay, and I highly recommend you try it once you’re confident you have Coop under voice control.

  42. says

    I am just now getting into running some with Jax, I had to wait until he was a certain age before I really good run with them, though I am not a runner so getting him LOTS of off leash running is key for his energy!!

    since I have been walking with him so much ever since he was a puppy, we have learned how to walk well on a leash, so now the running part he seems to pick up fast. I do interval runs with him and he seems to like it. just take it slow- maybe keep the run sessions short and say good – when he is running next to you. and maybe use a short leash


  43. says

    Don’t think I am mean, when I say this, but the choke collar works great! I use it on my Mom’s dog, because he is 115 pounds and pulls a lot. But when he has the collar on, it’s great and I don’t feel like I’m going to have my shoulder pulled out of my socket. :) I can now walk him without the collar, which is great. He’s learning.

  44. says

    I didn’t read through all the comments to see if this has already been said, but you’re going to need to be really careful running with a Boxer because breeds with squished faces have a hard time breathing, especially when it’s hot. As long as you’re really careful, it should be fine though.

    I run with my dog, quite often, and the foundation for good running is good heel. My dog is on a 6 foot static lead and she has to heel on my left side the entire time. She does not stop while we run. If she needs to relieve herself, she waits until I stop. Most dogs will get to that level of attention if you really focus on heeling. When a dog is heeling, their foot can’t pass your foot and they should only look to the front, never to the sides and if you see their ears perk up, that means they aren’t paying attention to you and need correction. This may sound overly strict, but it’s really not once the dog gets the idea.

    My dog and I have run countless miles together and raced over a dozen times together and it’s really a fun experience. You’re going to love it!

  45. says

    I’m not a runner, but I love walking with my mutt Jack. I finally had to give up and get one of those retractable leashes so he could run ahead, zig/zag, and sniff every bush we pass. Now that he has more room to roam, he’s much happier, and doesn’t yank me around nearly as much. Except when he sees a bunny…then, I’m likely to end up splayed on the ground ?)

  46. says

    I run with my Cooper who is a 4 year old husky/boxer mix (but she looks rather shepherd-y)

    My tips:
    1. Get him checked out by a vet first to ok him for running. Some dogs despite being really active and energetic are just not made to run – bad hips, wonky feet, etc. most vets recommend waiting until the dog is at least a year old before taking them running to avoid damaging growing ligaments.
    2. Start gradual. Going for a run with a human is different than a romp and a play of fetch – pretend its a new human runner and build up slowly.
    3. Teach him how to drink from a squirt bottle – that way if either of you get hot/thirsty you can share :)
    4. Most of all, figure out what works best for both of you! My Coop doesn’t like to go more than 8km and anything longer she gets bored and starts lagging behind because she’d rather sniff the trees). Despite that a lot of people like their dog running nicely beside them, it works best for us when she runs in front (but not dragging me!). As a dog who loves to chase squirrels, I’m able to spot the signs of her about to bolt and reel her in before it happens.

    Good luck! It’s my experience that Coop’s are great running partners :)

  47. says

    Good thing I found this article! I was given a puppy as a gift few days ago and I can’t wait to run with my dog when it gets a little bigger.

  48. Joyce Cherrier says

    I think the way we’ve always done it is – work on the walking – then move to walk jog – – then running. Our 110 pound male Dobie is great at it. The female 65lb Dobie is not. So I guess it somewhat depends on the dog too?

  49. says

    My dog, Buster, loves running but he easily gets tired. He is still 3 years old and I expect him to be more aggressive. He has a poor stamina and I’m really afraid he might have a disease.

  50. says

    Loved this article. It reminds me so much of my beloved Paterdale terrier sprout. We loved running together with himon a long rope tied around my waist. He’s in doggy heaven now.

  51. says

    I really enjoyed this article. We recently got a golden retriever puppy. My kids are really loving this new bundle of joy. Absolute bliss!!!

  52. Emily says

    Haha, I’m having this very same problem nowadays! I’m so happy I found your blog, not just because there are some really great tips among the comments, but because this is a great blog!

  53. says

    The first 10 minutes are the most important on a walk or run with either of my dogs. This is the time where they’re excited but I have to remind them that they obey me. That means, staying alongside me and maintaining a slack leash.

    Whenever they pull ahead or to the side, I give them a quick jerk with the leash and it reminds them to stay close.

    As for pace, my male dog can go as far and as fast as I want. My female maxes out at a 4k run. So I run with him for long, challenging runs and her for shorter trips. I generally alternate each day. But it depends on the dog.

  54. says

    We have two border collies that love to run, just not with us!
    They are quite happy to walk along on the leads but look at us like we are aliens if we try to run. We are fortunate to have lots of open beaches where they can run, chase and swim.
    Maybe you should separate your running routine from Coops?

  55. says


    Nice post, I enjoyed reading. I actually don’t have a tip though I have dogs because I am not in to running. Sometimes we walk and play in the garden but no running. ha. Lazy me. I must say your dog is cute!

  56. says

    Nice post, I enjoyed reading. I actually don’t have a tip though I have dogs because I am not in to running. Sometimes we walk and play in the garden but no running. ha. Lazy me. I must say your dog is cute! I dont have a tip about that running thing but I can give idea on taking care of them you can isit my non-shed dogs page. Have a good day!

  57. says

    i can’t try this ever.. my doggy was too faster because it is labra-doggy and i have not yet more energy like it.. so you try this i am not athletes..

  58. Robby says

    Cut a low-sodium hot dog (chicken if possible) into tiny bits, and put it in your pocket (in a baggie). Put a squeaker or clicker in the other pocket. When pup strays, use squeak to get attention and then give a treat. Eventually just squeak or clicker will suffice.

  59. says

    this is a bit problem for me too! My labrador is getting too fat and too lazy, and he won’t budge any more (probably might fault, i admit that!) :-)

  60. says

    I use a Gentle Leader on every dog I run with. It’s literally the most amazing collar I’ve used. My mom even uses one now with her great dane-lab-mastiff mix. Basically, it controls the dogs head and your dog will be much more responsive. After the initial “getting use to” the collar over his face, your dog will be the best behaved little doggie walker ever. “Getting use to” involves your dog rolling around on the floor for about twenty minutes and pawing at his nose, which is amusing. He will still be able to eat & drink with it on, but it doesn’t require really any brute on your end–a responsible kid could easily walk a large dog with one.

  61. says

    Okay Carla, you need to train the dog first before you can actually run with it. So, use small treats to have Coop walk and stop with you and watch your hand gestures. Every time you walk and stop and walk, stop and sit give him a small treat and say “Good heel, or Good stop.” You can use voice signals alone or voice and hand signals together, but you must do it over and over until he gets it. Always keep them on one side, don’t switch from side to side on him. Good luck!