How to learn to run with your dog?

Running with your dog has many advantages. Running allows you to maintain your physical condition and prevent certain pathologies, but it is also a great way to strengthen the bond of trust between you and improve the education of the animal. Here are some tips for learning to run safely with your dog.

Jogging or cani-cross?

If you are already a follower of running, your little companion will be delighted to share this moment with you. In “free running” in the heart of nature, or in a more urban environment, on a leash by your side, this practice is perfectly suited to duo outings with your dog.

And if you fancy a sport in which your dog will be a real partner, then cani-cross is made for you ! Because this sport is an authentic teamwork in which your dog, connected to you by a leash, alternates moments of running and moments of pulling, running in front of you.

It is practiced in leisure or in competition and it is certainly one of the most popular dog sports, due to the ease of its implementation and the moderate cost of the necessary equipment.

To know : this sport would have been initially created by the “mushers”, the leaders of sled dogs, who had to continue to train their dogs during the summer periods, when there is no more snow.

The breed of the dog

All breeds of dog can, a priori, practice running, if they are in good physical condition. However, brachycephalic (flattened muzzle) dogs, who are more prone to breathing difficulties and who do not tolerate heat well, are not particularly enduring. They should be oriented towards gentler physical activities.

Dogs of very small size, are not advantaged in this type of practice either. Although they like to run and are often very agile, their small build does not predispose them to run for a long time, nor over long distances. If you plan to run with a small dog, focus on short distances and adapt to their pace.

The age of the dog

Running with your dog cannot be done at all ages. Indeed, the puppies who are in full development have particularly fragile joints and could injure themselves irreparably. It is recommended to wait until the end of growth and in any case to avoid intense sports activities for up to 10 to 12 months, and even 18 months for dogs of large breeds.

Likewise, running is not recommended for older dogs who may suffer from osteoarthritis or pathologies incompatible with this sport.

The dog’s state of health

Considering a sport with your dog is above all to make sure that he is able to do so. That is why a complete health check at his favorite vet is essential. You will be able to be sure that your companion does not suffer from any disease which would prevent him from this sport.

In addition, the practitioner will be able to tell you precisely, depending on his breed, morphology and physical condition, how and for how long your dog can run, what to avoid or, on the contrary, to favor.

Run safely

Running with your dog is good. Corn to run safely, this is essential ! For him, for you and for those around you, depending on whether you are in the city or in the countryside, the dangers will not be the same, but they will always be present.

Basic orders

Before you start with your companion, you must make sure that he responds to basic commands. The reminder is the first one you need to teach your dog, it’s all about safety. But some others such as “Stop”, “left”, “right”, “slowly”, are also essential for the practice to be done peacefully for him, and for you.

Without it, the race can turn into a disaster or a real ordeal for both of you, while it should remain a shared pleasure.

Good to know : there are different dog training methods that can help you in this teaching. THEpositive education, based on congratulations and small rewards works very well and is extremely rewarding.


Whether you choose cani-cross or running, the equipment is the same:

  • A specific harness adapted to the race;
  • An elastic lanyard;
  • A belt or harness.

Harness is essential and the collar is totally to be avoided when running with your dog, because it could strangle it during the effort. Also avoid “anti-traction” harnesses, of course, which are not suitable for this practice and take into account the morphology of your dog to choose the one that will be most suitable.

The elastic lanyard (about 2 meters for a good distance) is to be preferred to a rigid leash, because it allows to absorb shocks.

THEbelt or harness, for you, will take care of your back and allow you to run and be towed in the best conditions.

Trick : bring poop bags to take with you during outings and protect your dog against ticks, fleas and other parasites. Also remember to indicate his name and your contact details on his harness, in case of loss or escape.

Nutrition and hydration

As with any sporting practice, it is not recommended to feed the dog before or just after the effort, in order to to avoid the dilation-torsion of the stomach which is a very serious accident with sometimes fatal outcome.

Avoid feeding it within 3 hours before and immediately after discharge. Let have a good time of recovery. Do not feed him large amounts of food all at once. Break up his meal into several catches spread over the day.

Regarding hydration, provide water for him (and for you) so that he can drink during your outing and leave, at home and available, clear and fresh water but not refrigerated.

Start gradually

Speed, endurance, should not be sought at the start, they will come gradually, once this new practice is well assimilated by your dog, that he understands what the orders are for and that he responds to them correctly.

Initiation and warm-up

Before each start of the session, give him time to explore the new environment that presents itself. Let it run freely (if possible) and take the opportunity to test recall and basic orders. This privileged moment will serve as a warm-up.

Then, once you are both equipped, start gradually. First of all on flat ground, over short distances in order to test their abilities and yours, to train you to form a homogeneous tandem.

Indeed, the race for two is not natural for your companion. He may want to run to one side or the other, sniff left and right, or run too fast for you. Gently bring it back to a sustainable pace, without screaming and channel its energy overflowing.

Keep up with your rhythm

Learn to listen to your dog and don’t force him to run if he doesn’t feel like it. Adapt and try the experience again later.

Respect his rhythm and bring it back to racing through play, rather than coercion. In the same vein, do not try to impose your pace on him, especially if it is more sustained than his, at the risk of exhausting him and he injures himself.

You would have understood it, patience and benevolence are the key words of these initiatory outings during which you will gradually learn to be together and to race as a team.

At the end of each session, give it a moment of recovery and freedom, if possible, or at least with a minimum of constraints.

Advice : remember to offer him a drink regularly to avoid dehydration and do not forget the pee breaks!

Gradually increase the difficulties

Once you have learned the basics, you can slightly increase the pace, duration or complexity of the race. But always think about warm-up at the start of the race, for him as for you, it will avoid injuries.

Attack small drops that your dog will begin to pull on you and remember to praise and encourage him regularly. His motivation will be strengthened.

After a few sessions, you will be ready for longer outings and it’s a safe bet that you will both be won over by this practice!

Advice : avoid running with it during the hottest hours. Opt for morning runs or at the end of the day in summer, when it is not too hot.

Are you ready to try the adventure? Know that there are many dog ​​clubs that practice cani-cross and who will be able to provide you with very good advice on how to learn to run with your dog and have fun doing it.