How To Run 5k With Your Dog

Do you have an active dog breed and plan on taking him on runs? This guide on how to run 5K with your dog is a great place to start!

Whether you have a designer dog like a Borgi or Huskmation, or an ultra-athlete purebred like Vizsla, we put together a program to get you and your dog running 5km (3.1 miles) within six weeks. 

But first, let’s go over some of the basics to get you started on the right foot.

At what age can you start running with your dog?

As energetic as your pup may be, it’s best not to start running too young. The best age to start depends on your dog’s size and when the growth plates in their legs have grown closed. 

This should be around seven months for small and medium breeds, although you shouldn’t push it too hard until after a year. 

A kid running with a puppy on a bridge

Large and giant dogs might only have their growth plates close between a year and eighteen months. Too much running too young can cause long-term damage to their joints and bone formation, and it can also result in early osteoarthritis. 

So always have your dog checked by the vet before you start on a program.

Is it okay to run with my dog?

Whether it’s okay to run with your dog depends on its breed, age, size, health, and weather. 

A dog running with two people on the road

A dog that is too young or beginning to slow down with old age is better suited to walks or short hikes.

The breed also plays a factor. Tiny dogs such as Teacup varieties or toys like the Maltese and Chihuahua will struggle to keep over long distances. However, many of them will be able to keep up for a light jog around the blog. 

Many terriers and medium-sized dogs like Spaniels or Beagles will enjoy runs between three and five miles long.

Northern Spitz breeds such as Huskies and Malamutes can run marathons with relatively little training, provided the weather is cool.

Other fantastic running dogs include the Vizsla, Weimaraner, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Dalmatian. German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and herding breeds like Collies and Heelers are also excellent choices.

Breeds with short noses like Pugs or Boston Terriers struggle to moderate their body temperature and are usually unsuited for running. 

Likewise, giant breeds like Great Danes might love running, but it should be limited because their size already places too much strain on their musculoskeletal system.

Heavily muscled dogs like Bullies and English Bull Terriers might have a ton of energy, but their build will make them struggle with long distances. 

On the other hand, sighthounds like the Greyhound or the Whippet enjoy sprinting the most and make reasonably good partners over longer distances.

Health should always be your first consideration when deciding if it is okay to run with your dog. Always consult a vet first, and ask for a hip and elbow examination to rule out any severe dysplasia problems.

Environmental factors should also be accounted for, such as whether it is too hot or cold outside. Always check the temperature of the road by placing your hand on it for 15 seconds. 

If you can’t hold it there comfortably, don’t ask your dog to run on it.

How to train your dog to run with you

Before you start running, it’s essential to make sure you have the necessary equipment. 

You will need:

  • A hands free leash
  • A harness (preferably one that gives you complete control of your dog and blocks pulling)
  • A runner’s backpack for you or your dog
  • Water
  • Treats
  • A collapsible bowl
  • Comfortable running clothes

Your dog should master walking loosely on the leash before you begin running. A pup that yanks or pulls while running will make your experience a frustrating one, so be sure to cover this first.

Reward your dog for staying by your side in the correct position. Use positive reinforcement to encourage them to only walk on your left and never in front of you.

Once your dog knows how to walk quietly beside you, you can begin training to run. 

A man running with its dog on the sea shore

When you move from a walk to a run, introduce a cue, such as “let’s go” or “we’re off.” Use this consistently, so your dog knows when it’s time to speed up.

When you start running with your dog, you won’t be immediately going for 10 miles in one go. You can use the program given below to gradually build up the length of time jogging until you reach 5k and beyond.

Whenever you slow down, use a second cue like “okay” or “easy now” to tell your dog you’re slowing down.

Make sure you warm-up and cool down before and after every run. 

Never let your dog off-leash unless you are in a completely safe environment and your dog has an excellent recall, so you know you can get them back if you need to. 

Can I run 5k with my dog?

Provided you’ve done the necessary work involved in leash training and teaching your dog the cues for running; there’s no reason you can’t run 5k with your dog. 

So long as your dog is healthy and athletic enough to cover the distance, most dogs will enjoy the experience and make excellent running companions.

To get you started, we put together a running program. This is a beginner’s guide, assuming you and your pup have done no running so far. It’s designed to get you 5k in six weeks.