Got a crazy pooch? Wondering how to train your dog to run with you? Here's how I did it!
I'd like to thank my friends at Tractor Supply and Untamed™ Dog Food for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting companies who support Running in a Skirt.
When the Hubs and I were deciding what kind of dog we wanted, one of his biggest selling points for a larger dog was that I could train it to run with me. So ever since we brought home Makena Rose, I'd been planning out how I was going to run with her. Since she's a bigger dog with growing joints we decided to wait to do any serious running with her until she hit her first birthday, so I had lots of time to figure out what I was going to do. We found lots of conflicting information about how old they should be to run, including even at our vets office, so we decided to just wait.
Luckily over the course of that year, Makena showed lots of signs that she'd love running. She always enjoyed long walks and would do laps around the yard with the biggest smile on her face when we let her. She's also a super, super, SUPER high energy pup (ok... let's be real she's crazy) who we knew would love the exercise, so she was the right kind of dog to try it with!
We've been running for over a month now and while she's far from perfect, she's doing a great job! I thought I'd share with you what I did in case you were wondering how to train your dog to run with you too.
How to Train Your Dog to Run with You
Teach Loose Leash Walking First
Even though I didn't officially start running with Makena until she was a year old, I was doing all kinds of preparations to run with her before then. I took her to two rounds of puppy school that first year. One of the best things we learned was loose leash walking. Basically it's a way to train your dog to walk with you without constantly pulling.
To start, head out for your walk and anytime the dog pulls your leash you go "uh-oh" or "no" and stop walking until they stop pulling and come back to your side. Then you start again and repeat as many times as necessary. When Makena was just learning we had several walks that didn't make it past the end of the driveway. It basically teaches them that if they pull they don't get to go anywhere.
I also added the component of encouraging her to always walk on my right hand side so when we ran she'd stay on my side instead of in front of me.
Before Makena hit her first Birthday I started doing short running intervals on our walks to get her used to the idea. I'd have us run for a couple tenths of a mile and then walk again. Eventually we were doing that over the course of 2 miles so nothing was a shock to her little system, joints or bones.
Once I decided she was old enough and ready to do more serious running I started with just one mile. I picked a cool morning so I knew she'd have an easier time with it. We ended up stopping a lot in the beginning because she'd pull or get distracted. I stuck to my guns much like in training for loose leash walking and stopped her if she started pulling me. She loved to run so I tried to show her that she only got to run when she wasn't pulling and running on my right hand side.
Eventually I took her up to 2 miles and then 3, much like a 5K training plan for a person. Luckily she LOVED it!
Bring Treats for Distractions
One of my biggest obstacles with crazy Makena is she is a social butterfly. She wants nothing more than to be with people and especially other dogs. She'll act perfectly on a trail until we see another dog and then she has a melt down that she can't stop and play with them.
To work through that I've been bringing treats with me and if she needs a distraction, I've been stopping the run and standing on the side of the path and keeping her attention with treats. We're still working out the kinks in this but I don't want to encourage her flipping out when she sees other dogs by just letting it go.
Praise & Refuel
Luckily Makena has boundless energy and truly enjoys running but I still praise her a lot of after a run to let her know that she did a good job. I also always bring a separate water bottle and bowl for her to rehydrate immediately.
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Makena and I have been loving running together and this food has helped her stay strong. I've had days where my run definitely would have gone better without her and days she drove me kind of nuts, but it's been worth it to get her to run with me without pulling and going crazy. The work we put in now will mean years of happy running ahead. Hopefully if you want your dog to run with you too, these tips will help!
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Like this post about how to train your dog to run with you? Pin this to your favorite running board!
Head HERE and let me know which type of UNTAMED™ Dog Food your pup would like.
Do you run with your dog? Do you have any tips to add?
I'm linking up with Fit and Fashionable, Wild Workout Wednesday and Coaches Corner.
Chrystal Rose says
Running is always so much more fun when my dog can come along! But you make it look so easy!! We'll have to try these tips out and maybe one day we can get ours to run too. Thanks for sharing!
LOVE the tip on loose leash walking. Our dog likes to be in charge. haha My biggest thing with running with her is her stopping multiple times to pee or poo, and freaking out at all the dogs in the fenced-in yards in the area. She's a rescue dog and veeeery scared and protective.
Agness of Fit Travelling says
Running with a dog seems like lots of fun and I haven't tried it until now. Such a great idea, Julie. You definitely have an awesome running partner.
Thanks Agness! I'm pretty lucky!
Kristen from the road to domestication says
She is a cutie! Looks like she's learned very well! And I haven't heard of this brand of dog food - I will check and see if our local pet store has it! Our Taffy would approve, I'm sure.
Taffy would love it-- I'm sure!
Kristina @ Love & Zest says
This is a great idea to write about! I love when people have a dog that runs so well with them!
It's a lot of fun!
Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai says
Makena Rose is a beautiful dog, and what a fun running partner. These are great tips for training your dog to run with you. I think the best tips was researching how if could/would affect your dog with your veterinarian. Always best to be safe with our pets.
Kristy from Southern In Law says
These are such great tips! I wish our puppies didn’t have such little legs so they could walk/run further!
Haha! I feel for you! I was in the same position with Rhett. The small ones are so much fun too though.
Dog is the best running company you can have. Sometimes I run with my brother's dog. He's so well trained and I feel so safe when I'm with him. Makena is such a cutie 🙂 Thanks for great tips.
That's wonderful! I feel safer with Makena too. She is already protective of me.
So cute!! 🙂 I've always wanted a dog that I can run with. These tips are great!
Alisa Fleming says
You two are so cute and this is awesome! We don't have a dog, but I just love seeing people run with their dogs - it is such a good partnership!
Thanks Alisa! She loves it.
This is great information Makena is a BEAUTIFUL dog and looks so at home on that lovely pink lead.
Thanks so much Beth!
What a cutie! I'd love to run with my dogs but they're too small to go very far and one loves running but the other is lazy, haha. Sounds like yours is doing great with it! So good to give them that much exercise too.
She has endless energy!
Jessica @Small Bites by Jessica says
This post in so informative Julie! Thanks so much for sharing!
Summer @ summer-price says
I think those are great tips, nice and slow. We wouldn't just one day go out and run a marathon so why do that to a dog. I really liked how you eased her into it.
It would be awesome to learn to run along with my boxer. First, we need to get a hang of him walking without dragging me.
Haha! Yes work on the loose leash walking first!
I've tried walking with Cocoa (disaster) but she seems to take to running! Who knew?
She takes after her Mama!
Chrissy @ Snacking in Sneakers says
What a sweet dog! We don't currently have one but I'd love to get one at some point. I think we'll have to wait until we have a house though; it's tough with apartment living.
Yeah! I had a small dog in an apartment but it would be hard to have a bigger one like Makena.
Whitney E. RD says
Great tips! My dog Mr. Chow is a renegade on the leash though so I'm not sure he will respond to anything I try 🙁 He sure does obey when food is present though!
haha! Poor Mr. Chow!
These are such great tips! She is such a cutie too!
Thanks! She's a doll!
Great tips! I really hope to adopt a dog someday, so these are definitely gonna come in handy!
They are so much fun!
Your pup is adorable.
I don't bring treats with me on the run. The couple times I've given my dog something to eat while running it hasn't gone over so well. I think I'll have to bring something for longer runs but she seems good with six miles at a time for now.
6 miles is awesome!!! Congrats! Have you done anything that has helped with distractions?
Rachel Frutkin says
Nope. The first mile is a lot of stop and go. But once she gets her sniffing in, she runs by my side for the rest of the run.
Glad to hear that you were able to train Makena to run. That 'll burn some energy that she is full of. I used to love running with my lab but she is getting older so we g on long walks now.
Yes! She is a ball of energy!
Liz Mays says
I didn't think of running in intervals. That's a good idea. Slowly increasing the mileage over time would definitely work for me too.
YES! So true!
Katie @ Hungry Runner says
YAY! This made me so excited to run with Bailey when she is finally old enough. And Makena is SOOOO cute <3 Love the loose leash walking tip, definitely will be working on that with Bailey. Bailey also gets very distracted by other people and other dogs when we're walking -- she HAS TO say hi to them, so that will also be something for us to work on. Thanks for the great guide!
Thanks Katie! It's a work in progress for us too.
Deborah Brooks says
We don't have a dog but lots of the MRTT moms run with their dogs as well.
I bet they love it!
Abbey Sharp says
Wow sounds pretty easy! Love the awesome tips 🙂
A work in progress for sure!
Elizabeth McNeill says
Hello, Julie Wunder.
Makena Rose is such a cute dog. How old is she? I really want a dog to accompany me during my runs, too. But I can't make up my mind on what breed. Hopefully, by the end of the month, I can decide.
Thanks! She's 15 months!
Nicole @ Fitful Focus says
Awesome tips! A harness vs. a collar really helps, too. It gives you more control and won't hurt them as much when they are learning not to pull. I'm so glad Makena is learning to be such a good running buddy!
Yes! We've been using the Easy Guide harness!
Neely Moldovan says
We dont have a dog but I bet it would be so enjoyable to have a dog to run with. Plus gets them out too!
Jessica Kuepfer says
Getting a dog is absolutely on my list. I will have to reference this list when I get one!
Hope you get one soon!
When I'm going to have a dog some day, then the dog needs to run with me also! That's also my only condition. Great tips how to train them!
Thanks Laura! It's a lot of fun!
Shelley Marcy says
Julie, when she gets distracted, use the words "leave it". Say then every time and offer the treat as a reward. Soon the "leave it" will be enough for her to understand exactly what it means. Been using it for a long time and I have a service dog who I needed to never become distracted while working.
Ohhh Shelley!!! You know we did work leave it in puppy class and use it around the house if she gets into something. Didn't think of applying that to this case. Great idea-- thanks!
Maureen @ Maureen Gets Real says
When my boyfriend and I do get a dog, I've already said I want one that I can go on short runs with, once it's old enough of course. I wasn't sure how to even go about training a dog to run so I'm definitely book marking this post for the future. Thanks for the tips Julie!
Emily @ Pizza & Pull-Ups says
Great tips! When our big dog was still with us I would take her runnning sometimes. She did great when there was no one else out and about, but the socializing was always our issue if we went when there were other people out and about.
Blane Sherer says
Glad to hear that Makena is running with you.( smile )
Hope you have a good weekend.