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Running that Doesn’t Suck? Bring Your Dog!

It’s the New Year so maybe you’re looking for a new fitness routine! And maybe you’d like to get your dog involved, too! Here, RUNNING THAT DOESN’T SUCK author Lisa Jhung gives a brief explainer on how to incorporate your pup in your new running routine.



If you’re saying, “Awwww!” to yourself right now at the thought of a run with Fido, consider running with your—or a—dog. Maybe you own a dog capable of running, you’re interested in getting a dog who can run, or you can borrow a friend’s pup every once in a while.

Studies have long shown that owners of dogs take more steps per day than non–dog owners. (Gotta walk that dog!) Get yourself a pooch that needs to run or else they tear apart your furniture or act out in other ways, and you’re bound to head out for runs and long walks more than not. Some dogs start wagging their tails or jumping up and down excitedly at the sight of your running shoes. Others learn to skillfully manipulate you with their puppy dog eyes when they’re longing for a run.

Dogs can be ideal running partners. They go wherever and whenever you want, and not only do they not complain, they’re eager and excited every time. In fact, having a dog can be highly motivating, as your dog needs exercise and depends on you to give him or her said exercise.



Generally speaking, dogs should be roughly a year and a half to two years old before starting a running routine so their growth plates are closed enough to make it safe for them to run without hurting their joints. Every dog is different, however, so check with your veterinarian about how old your dog should be before you take him or her running. And if your dog is older and has slowed down in their golden years, let them set the pace and don’t push them.

Keep in mind that your dog should ease into running, just as you should, so don’t expect either of you to run for a big chunk of time right off the bat. Easing into running by running and walking will be best for both your health and your dog’s.



First and foremost, never, ever, ever leave the house without a poop bag. That said, never leave your dog’s poop where they decide to do their thing. Use the bag you brought and bag that shit up, carry it with you (yes, carry it with you) to the nearest trash can, and dispose of it properly. Nothing says “f*** you, neighbor,” like letting your dog leave a deuce on their lawn. Even if you don’t like your neighbor, don’t do it.

Secondly, you need a leash. Running-specific dog leashes do exist, some with contraptions that attach around your waist for hands-free running. Only use this kind of leash if your dog isn’t obsessed with trying to chase and kill squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and butterflies, lest they take off after some would-be prey with you in tow. Regular leashes also work, if you don’t mind holding one in hand.

Consider carrying extra water for your dog if you’re going on a longer run or run/walk, especially in warm weather. Some dogs will drink if you squirt a water bottle near their mouths. Others prefer if you pour water into your hand and let them drink from your cupped palm. With others, you’ll need to wait until you get back to your car or house. (Consider keeping extra water and a dog bowl—collapsible dog bowls are handy—in your car for this purpose.) And/or, run by water sources.



Some trails allow dogs off leash while others do not. And some trails allow only certain dogs off leash: dogs whose owners have gone through the process of getting a voice-control tag (worn by the dog) that indicates the dog responds to voice commands. Check leash laws in your area before letting your dog off leash.