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A guide to running with your dog

Integrating your new puppy or dog into your exercise routine is a wonderful part of having a canine companion.

Running with your dog is not only a great way to keep them fit, healthy and mentally stimulated, but also an opportunity for you to work on obedience training and build that 1:1 connection with your dog.

Like any activity though, there are a few things to consider ensuring the experience is safe and enjoyable for all parties involved.

In This Article 

  • When Can I Start Running With My Puppy?
  • Assess Your Dog's Health
  • Take Small Steps
  • Safety Points When Running Your Dog

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    Starting your puppy off on the right foot (or paw) when it comes to exercise is critical for their physical development and protecting from any future joint issues.

    How you approach this though, does differ depending on breed.

    According to Adelaide based Vet, Andrew Spanner (2020), dogs of a small breed can begin extended running from the age of 9 months, medium breeds 10-11 months, large breeds 12-14 months and giant breeds 18-24 months.

    This of course does not mean you can’t get outdoors and explore with your new puppy. Regular walks once your puppy is fully vaccinated is a brilliant form of exercise and a great way to start implementing their on-lead and off-lead obedience training.



    Most dogs innately enjoy being active, especially if it means going on outings with humans. Your dog’s “get up and go” is waiting to be unleashed; one whistle and most dogs are off the couch and in the car.

    However, for a dog that’s been benched for years or has physical ailments, a day of activity could quickly turn painful. Obvious medical problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, intervertebral disk disease, pulmonary problems (including heartworm disease), and obesity, will limit a dog’s tolerance for activity. If your dog hasn’t been examined by a vet recently or is older than 7, get a checkup with your vet before beginning a new sport.

    Obesity is a very common condition that limits a dog’s mobility and stamina. Diet may need to precede exercise, and you may need to increase activity gradually to avoid injury. Ask your veterinarian for an accurate daily calorie calculation and recommended dog food to help your dog lose weight, and stop feeding them high-calorie dog treats and people food.

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    When you do go for your first outing, start out slowly and have reasonable expectations. While you might be itching to jog a 5km, your dog might not be physically ready. It’s important to start with small steps to safely build up your dog’s ability:

    • Begin with 500m increments. After you’ve run or jogged 500m, make sure your dog looks like they are comfortable to continue.
    • If they are is, keep going for another 500m and then check on them again. Do this for a maximum of 3km. You can double this rule of thumb for moderate hiking. And remember, you can always increase the length of your workout if your dog completes the initial outing with flying colours.
    • Also monitor your dog’s heat tolerance during exercise, especially if you’re working out in hot, humid areas or if your dog is a brachycephalic (short-nose) breed. Dogs can only expel excess body heat through panting and through the pads of their feet, making heatstroke more common for them than for people.
    • Bring a water bottle filled with cool water just for your dog, and make sure to take frequent water breaks while you’re out.
    • Watch for excessive panting, an enlarged and flattened tongue, and sluggish behaviour, all of which are signs of overheating.
    • remember, everyone has off days, so pay attention to what your dog is telling you. If they are struggling to keep up or exhibiting the slightest sign of pain, it’s time to go home



    As we have discussed, running with your dog is a wonderful activity for both you and your dog, though it’s important to remember a few safety points when enjoying your local running tracks.

    • Weather: Depending on the breed of your dog, extreme heat and cold will affect your dog in different ways. Here in Australia, it’s likely that extreme heat will be your biggest consideration. As we approach the summer season, it's critical to take the time to check your weather report, avoid mid-day runs during high-temperature days, and ensure your dog always has access to water pre and post-run, and during if needed.
    • Snakes: Both for your safety and the dogs, the approaching summer season also means that snakes will be waking up. Due to this, I highly recommend brushing up on your snake bite first aid, running with a phone on you, and keeping your dog close by or on a lead vs far ahead or behind on the track.
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    Just like yourself, dogs do get tired and sore from exhaustion and rigorous exercise. This may be evident in your dog if they are struggling to get up after exercising, refusing to walk up and down stairs or potentially refusing to eat due to the pain in their muscle movement.

    According to rehab therapist Jen Pascucci (2018), the best way to avoid muscles soreness in your dog when it comes to running, is to provide them with regular, conditioning training to allow the dog to build up their fitness and strength. While avoiding excessive training in short bursts, for example, a 12km run on the weekend, following two weeks of no training.

    “Some dogs have such a strong drive to work and play that they’ll push through severe fatigue and potential injury. That is the real danger. It is up to the owner to set boundaries and limit the high drive dog to avoid over-exercise-related injury and exhaustion”. (Pascucci, 2018)

    While dogs can get stiff, sore muscles after exercise, please resist giving your pet human drugs. Aspirin, Tylenol®, and ibuprofen can cause serious problems for dogs, from intestinal bleeding to kidney or liver damage. Naproxen is highly toxic, even in small doses. Use a comforting, gentle massage on sore muscles, and ask your veterinarian for one of the numerous safe and effective pain relievers for dogs.



    Running with your dog is not only great exercise but also the perfect opportunity for both you and your dog to get outdoors and socialise with events like parkrun.

    parkrun is a free weekly event that you can join across the world, that takes place in parks and open spaces every Saturday morning. This wonderful event is a truly positive and welcoming experience for both you and your dog. Allowing you to walk, jog, run (5km), volunteer or spectate, while spending some valuable time outdoors and with friends.

    With 428 events across Australia and over 34 in NZ operating every weekend, you should have no trouble finding an event near you. To join in, simply complete the free registration process and use the event map, to find your nearest parkrun. Bring your dog along to participate in the fun Eukanuba™ Barkrun events as well!


    • Spanner, A., 2021. When It's Safe To Run A Puppy | The Evidence. [online] Walkerville Vet. Available here: [Accessed 9 September 2021].
    • Pascucci, J., 2018. 5 Signs Your Dog Is Getting Too Much Exercise | PetMD. [online] Available here:[Accessed 9 September 2021].


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