Most people know that running is a great way to stay in shape, but running can be incredibly boring and lonely if you’re not used to it or don’t have a partner. Running with your dog can provide plenty of benefits for both you and the pup. What are the benefits of running with your dog? We’ve got a ton of them for you.
Dogs are great running companions because they provide excellent motivation. If you ever find yourself feeling lazy about going for a run, just remember that your dog is depending on you to get them moving. They’ll be more than happy to join you on a run and will likely be very excited about it.
We’ll cover a ton of benefits of running with your dog, some of the best breeds to run with, and some general info for running with dogs that is important to keep in mind like: how old should a puppy be before running and how far can dogs run.
- Benefits of Running With Your Dog
- 13 Health Benefits of Running with a Dog
- 1/ Reduces Stress and Anxiety
- 2/ A Healthy Heart
- 3/ Lose Weight, Build Muscle, Look Better
- 4/ Endorphins
- 5/ Boosts Immunity
- 6/ Better Sleep
- 7/ Weight Management
- 8/ Push You out Of Your Comfort Zone
- 9/ Choose Parks and Trails Over Treadmills
- 10/ Meet People Easier
- 11/ Distract You from Running
- 12/ Feeling of Accomplishment
- 13/ Build a Better Relationship
- 7 Training Benefits of Running with Your Dog
- 3 Safety-Related Benefits of Running with Your Dog
- 4 Benefits of Running with Your Dog for The Dog
- Are There Disadvantages of Running with Your Dog?
- How Many Miles Can I Run with My Dog?
Benefits of Running With Your Dog
There are a ton of reasons it makes sense to run with your pooch for both parties involved. We broke the benefits down into 4 categories: health benefits, training benefits, safety benefits, and dog benefits.
Each one has several items that highlight why it’s so great to run with a furry friend.
13 Health Benefits of Running with a Dog
We all know running is great for your health. Running with a friend, especially one you love, only adds to those benefits. It also adds a sense of responsibility to go on your run which helps you be consistent – one of the main requirements for long-term sustained health.
It’s scientific fact that animals help reduce stress levels, especially among those that don’t have strong social support. Why not enjoy that when also getting in a good workout? Let’s dive into the 11 benefits below.
1/ Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Running does wonders for stress and anxiety. Regular exercise is a huge contributor to people’s mental health and ability to cope with outside stressors in the world in general. Adding a dog to the mix, with their known stress-reducing superpowers as well, only makes it better.
A quit break to stop and pat your buddy’s little head and love on them for 20 seconds can help keep you both motivated and calm when on a long run.
2/ A Healthy Heart
The old ticker isn’t getting younger for any of us, but we can help extend its effectiveness through regular exercise. This is the same in dogs – exercise is critical to their happiness and long-term health.
The cardiovascular benefits for both dogs and humans from running are numerous. In fact, research shows that running provides a 23%-30% reduction in all-cause cardiovascular mortality when compared to non-runners.
This alone is a reason to bring those you love running with you – especially your four-legged friend. In fact, for general health, 15-20 miles per week is plenty to reap most of the health benefits of running.
3/ Lose Weight, Build Muscle, Look Better
Who doesn’t want to look better? Slimmer, more muscle, and more energy to do the things we love to do every day is a goal most people have. Running with your pup can help both of you get there. Running is a great way to lose weight, maintain healthy body composition, and increase your leg musculature.
Any exercise is great to accomplish these things, but getting out and running is an easy and inexpensive way to get all of these benefits. No special equipment is needed. Basic workout clothes, a leash, and a willing partner. A good pair of running shoes helps.
The natural drug. When exercising for around 30 minutes endorphins get released and start to make you feel good. Many people call this the “runners high,” but it’s just chemistry.
We get a sense of euphoria or feeling high, from endorphins. This can be great for people struggling with depression and other mental health conditions. Adding an animal into the mix that you love only multiplies these effects.
Animals also have endorphins and get a great feeling from exercise. This is most likely why they get so excited to go out and do anything.
5/ Boosts Immunity
Moderate exercise has been shown to have positive impacts on the immune system in multiple studies. It helps to improve the function of immune cells and also has an anti-inflammatory response.
This is great news for people that are constantly getting sick or seem to catch every cold that goes around. As we all know, the winter months can be brutal to our health if we’re not careful.
Running with a dog will help both of you stay healthy and fight off the bugs trying to take you down.
6/ Better Sleep
We’ve all had those nights where we just can’t seem to fall asleep no matter what we do. Moderate exercise has been shown to improve our ability to fall asleep and also increase the quality of sleep we get.
This is no different for our little running partners either. A good, tired out dog will sleep better and wake you up less at night. It’s a double-whammy. You sleep better, and your dog lets you sleep better. This can make a big impact if you have a pooch that likes to be active at night due to its sedentary lifestyle.
7/ Weight Management
We’ve already discussed weight loss, but losing weight isn’t the only important thing. One could argue it’s easier to lose weight than to manage your weight going forward. Getting into a rhythm with your puppy and continuing to go out day after day, week after week, and year after year is what will ultimately lead to the long-term benefits of weight loss.
Managing weight in humans and dogs is critical for the enjoyment and quality of life of both parties.
8/ Push You out Of Your Comfort Zone
Have you ever wanted to go run by the river or try a new place but didn’t feel comfortable doing it for whatever reason? Now you have a great excuse! Your dog would love it. We talk about this more in the dog section, but dogs LOVE exploring new places.
Don’t take that joy away from your dog. Face your fears and grab onto some motivation to make his run better, and yours, by trying out some cool new places or pushing yourself to do something you otherwise wouldn’t.
Sometimes our pets are all we need to take that extra step.
9/ Choose Parks and Trails Over Treadmills
Following up on the previous point, running with a dog can help you make healthier choices on where to run. While it’s easier to slog down to the basement and knock out 8 miles under the LED lights, a little Vitamin D wouldn’t hurt.
If you are accountable to your dog, who waits all day for his run, you’re less likely to go through the motions or take the path of least resistance when it comes to your running plan.
Running on a treadmill isn’t bad, and can be a great tool, but sometimes you need to just get out and enjoy the world. Dogs can help us do that.
10/ Meet People Easier
Speaking of getting out, dogs are great for meeting people! Head to the local park and find someone else who is exercising with their dog. If you’re single, this is a great opportunity to meet someone like-minded. If not, everyone is on the lookout for new friends – for themselves and their pups.
Dogs can be great ice breakers and finding someone else running with a dog ensures you have at least two things in common.
11/ Distract You from Running
Sometimes, running is hard. You lose your breath, feel tired, or your legs feel like lead. It can be a gut session just to get to the finish line. If your dog is on the run, it may be easier to focus on them and what they are doing and help take your mind off of the pain and discomfort you are feeling.
Dogs have a way of calming us – even through tough times – so why not use that to help maximize our weekly mileage on those hard days?
12/ Feeling of Accomplishment
There is little that feels better than a great workout session. One thing that does, however, is knowing that you did it and also made your dog’s day. Dogs love to exercise so much that seeing them crash on the couch afterward and pass out gives you that extra sense of joy and accomplishment.
You were a good human, and a good dog owner today.
13/ Build a Better Relationship
Your relationship with your dog is very important. Dogs and humans bond in a special way, but sometimes that bond takes a bit of work. Running together can help to build that relationship and make it even stronger.
Dogs are social creatures by nature, so they love being with their pack – which includes you! By running together, you are building that bond and showing your dog that you care about him and his health just as much as he does.
7 Training Benefits of Running with Your Dog
Training with your dog has a ton of benefits for both the runner and the dog. Dogs are amazing training partners; they encourage us, are always ready to go, never complain about the weather, and are never too busy to run with us.
It’s hard to find a training partner as loyal, and effective, as a good dog.
1/ Never an Off Day
A dog never calls in sick. Well, ok, dogs may get sick but it’s rare. They are always ready to go and never have something come up or need to “study” or “work late.” They are there, day in and day out, ready to support their human in their running efforts.
2/ Always Excited to Train
In addition to always being ready to go, they are excited to run. They don’t begrudgingly show up and go through the motions. When a dog sees a leash, they generally go nuts. They start running around and spinning in circles just to show you how excited they are. This can be motivating for a person as well.
Heck, if the dog is this excited, we could at least pretend to be pumped for our long run of the week.
3/ Never Gloat
All of this dedication and excitement don’t come at a cost either. A dog won’t gloat or brag and never puts you down. They are almost always going to be faster than you, and can likely run farther, but they are happy to stay with you and encourage you.
They don’t post their new PR’s on Facebook or talk about their slow-running partner holding them back. They are humble running partners and that’s why we love them.
4/ Subtle Encouragement
While a dog won’t leave you in the dust, it will most likely want to run faster and further than you can. This subtle encouragement can help push you a bit. If the dog wants to do another lap, but you’re pretty tired, you’re more likely to go for it since it will make your puppy very happy.
If alone, it may be time to call it quits and head inside for a rest. But with sparky ready and raring to go, one more lap is the last we can do. This can build up over time and add significant training time to your program.
5/ Never Outruns You
Similar to being humble, a dog won’t, and generally can’t thanks to the lease, outrun you. This means that you will never have to wonder if your dog is judging you for being too slow or not running far enough. They are always happy with the run, no matter the pace or distance.
This can be a huge weight off of a runner’s shoulder. Take the pressure off and just relax and enjoy the run with your furry friend. Enjoy the scenery, drive the pace yourself, and push as hard as you want to.
6/ It Gives You an Excuse to Rest
Dogs can also give you a great excuse to rest. While we are all dedicated, sometimes it’s nice to “have to stop and rest” for our little guys. It’s like that darn red light that takes forever “stopping you” from continuing your run.
Only this time, it’s not an annoyance, but a welcome rest for you and your pup.
7/ Efficient – Walk, Potty Break, and Run in One!
It’s efficient. Your dog needs to go to the bathroom and get walked anyway, why not include it all in one outing. In one fell swoop, you can walk the dog, grab a quick potty break, and get in a run.
This makes for a very well-run household.
3 Safety-Related Benefits of Running with Your Dog
While we’ve covered several great benefits already, another key area to consider is safety. Running, especially alone, can be intimidating – especially for women. You’re relatively vulnerable when by yourself, far from your house or car, and tired. This can leave people feeling uneasy. This is where a good dog can be a great help.
1/ An Extra Set of Eyes and Ears
Dogs have excellent hearing, vision, and sense of smell. They can sense the feelings of their owners, especially women, and react accordingly. With dog’s amazing hearing and senses, they can not only detect someone if they are approaching but they can almost supernaturally identify if the person intends to harm or not.
And as a bonus, dogs don’t rock out to tunes when they run, so they are always alert even when we may not be.
2/ Feel Safer
In addition to their practical benefits, a runner can feel safer with a companion in tow. This can make running more enjoyable and less stressful overall. There is enough discomfort in running without having to worry about your safety.
A canine companion can also help remove excuses to run. If you’ve ever found yourself thinking you should go run as the sun is setting but saying, “Nah, it’s not safe at night.” This removes that barrier for you. You’re welcome!
3/ A Great Deterrent
If you do ever encounter someone who may have ill intent, a dog is a great deterrent. Criminals regularly say they avoid dogs at all costs. If there is even a “Beware of Dog” sign on a fence, a criminal will skip that house on the off chance they have a big, scary dog.
Dogs have been used in personal protection for centuries because they are good at it. Most dogs that would be good running partners would also be good deterrents and able to put up a fight if something did ever happen.
4 Benefits of Running with Your Dog for The Dog
Humans get a lot out of their running relationship with their dogs, but so do the dogs. Exercising your dog has so many benefits for their health and happiness it’s hard to put them all in one place. We cover 4 of the top benefits for the dog side of the coin in this relationship.
1/ A Tired Dog Is a Good Dog
A tired dog is a good dog. When dogs don’t get sufficient exercise, they tend to get stressed. This stress builds up and they start to act out; chewing, destroying things, potentially aggressive behavior, and just all around neurotic and unhealthy actions. A dog who gets regular exercise, exposure to novel smells, sights, and sounds, and regular companionship is so much happier
Running with your dog regularly checks all of these boxes.
2/ No Vet Required
As discussed, running has a ton of health benefits for people and dogs. If your dog is healthier and happier, they will require less intervention and medical care which will save your pocketbook a lot of pain.
Although it feels crass to talk about money concerning your best friend, it’s a reality in the world. Saving some change on vet visits can be a big benefit to regular exercise for Fido.
3/ Exploring Is Part of Their Nature
Dogs love to explore. Going somewhere new and meeting new people and animals is high on their list of stuff they just can’t get enough of. Heck, even sticking their head out the car window is a great day in a dog’s life.
Taking them on adventures while running is about as good as it gets for a puppy. It’s an instinct that goes back to their wolf days. Wolves have huge territories and regularly run for dozens of miles per day in search of food and water. Exploring their territory is in their DNA. Dogs are happiest when on the prowl.
4/ A Good Match
Have you ever heard that dogs look like their owners? Well, there’s a reason for that. Studies have shown time and time again that people are attracted to dogs that look like them. This is called the “Mere-Exposure Effect” and it states that we like things more the more we see them.
How is this going to look when you’re a toned and muscular 145lbs and your dog looks like a blimp? That just doesn’t work. Take the poor pooch with you to get the same gains and impress as much as their owner!
Are There Disadvantages of Running with Your Dog?
There are several disadvantages to running with your dog as well. Poor training, a breed that doesn’t do well with running, physical or medical issues, or simply a dog that doesn’t enjoy running can all be the cause of a disadvantage to running with your dog.
We’ve discussed all of the advantages of running with your dog, but what about the disadvantages? Are there any downsides to having man’s best friend accompany you on a long run? Well, as with everything in life, there are some negatives as well.
Which Dog Breed Is The Best Running Partner?
The biggest concern when it comes to the health of a running dog is going to be around the dog’s health. This all starts with what type of dog you have. The dog breed is very important to think of when looking for a four-legged running partner.
Smaller dogs may have a very hard time keeping up. Dogs with long hair may overheat too easily. Large dogs may not be able to keep up on long runs or cause too much damage as they run. That said, we’ve decided to look at a Labrador Retriever as one of the best dogs to run with.
There are several other great dog breeds for running as well – we’ve picked labs to talk about because they are a very popular dog breed in the United States.
Are Labs Good Running Dogs?
Labrador Retrievers, or labs for short, are mid-sized dogs that are well-built and athletic. They are also very high-energy, highly trainable and smart, and eager to please; a great combination of attributes that make them excellent running partners.
Do keep in mind that not all labs are created equal. Some may have health conditions that make running a bad idea. For example, dogs with hip dysplasia should avoid running as it can exacerbate the condition.
Additionally, all dogs, including labs, need to be properly trained before taking them on a run. This means teaching them basic commands such as sit, stay, come, and heel. Without proper training, your dog may not be able to keep up with you or worse, may end up getting lost.
What if My Dog Doesn’t Want to Run with Me?
One of the disadvantages can be a dog that just doesn’t run. In this case, it would cause more harm than good to be constantly distracted by the dog and try to coax it along.
If this is the case, you’re better off running without them or finding another activity to do together that both of you will enjoy. There is a lot more to say about a dog that doesn’t want to run with you – it needs another article.
How Many Miles Can I Run with My Dog?
As a general rule of thumb, most adult dogs can handle up to five miles of running. This is true for most medium and large-breed dogs. Smaller breeds may only be able to handle two or three miles. Puppies and senior dogs should be treated very carefully as well.
How far you can run with your dog depends on how old the dog is, what kind of shape it’s in, and what type of dog it is. Younger dogs, and older ones, should not be pushed too hard to run. If a dog is unwilling to continue you may be pushing it too hard.
As stated above, puppies and senior dogs will need even less mileage than that. It’s important not to overdo it when running with a puppy as their bones and joints are still growing. Older dogs may not have the endurance they once did and can easily become exhausted.
In fact, running with a puppy less than 6 months old is not recommended.
There are so many benefits of running with your dog for both you and your canine – we’ve only scratched the surface. Dogs provide great company while running, and they can also help to keep you motivated. Additionally, running with your dog can help to improve your pet’s fitness and overall well-being. It can also help you feel safer and greatly improve the quality of life of the dog.
That said, there are also some downsides or some dogs and situations that aren’t conducive to a running lifestyle. Using a little bit of common sense and wisdom goes a long way.