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Dos and Don’ts of Running with Your Dog

Canicross exercises. Female runs with his beagle dog and happy smiling. Autumn spring outdoor sport activity

If you’re here, chances are you’ve been floating the idea of running with your pooch. Well, wag that fluffy tail, because we’ve teamed up with Burns Pet Nutrition, Run Wales and Paw Runner to design an activity programme especially for dog owners who are new to running called Tail Wag to 5K.

Running with your dog is incredibly rewarding! Getting fitter and healthier together will help you both to grow in confidence, cheer each other on and strengthen your bond.

It’s so easy to get carried away and think you are making a pawsitive difference as you tie your trainer laces and head out to the great outdoors to venture through mud, woodland, beaches and fields! However if it’s not done right you can create more harm than good.

The wellbeing of you and your dog is your #1 priority. We’ve invited Paw Runner to share a list of dos and don’ts so you can look for early warning signs of any issues and take part in the Tail Wag to 5k safely and responsibly.

The number 1 rule is all about having fun, so once you have taken these rules onboard, it’s all about putting your best paw forward, getting out there and feeling great!


  • Check with your vet before em’barking’ on any new exercise with your dog. 
  • Invest in a decent harness for your dog that fits properly as it makes it safer, more comfortable and easier to control. 
  • Always make sure both you and your dog warm up and cool down as part of a running session
  • Jog where possible with your dog off the lead if and when it’s safe to do so, giving them opportunity to run at their own pace, sniff and go to the toilet. 
  • Pay attention to your dog while doing exercise to ensure they are happy, not lame and not struggling to keep up. 
  • Even in cold weather dogs can overheat, so DO check for excessive panting, and then STOP, give them water and allow them to rest for a while and cool down
  • Prepare exercise in response to the weather. If it’s hot, make sure you do light exercise during the coolest part of the day such as early morning or late evening when the heat of the sun has gone.
  • Do teach your dog the basic commands to ensure a more pleasurable journey together
  • Do make sure you have recovery days as these are just as important as exercise days
  • Do wear appropriate trail running shoes to give you grip and comfortable running clothes to keep you dry
  • Do take a break if you are struggling with some of the exercises. If you are struggling to progress, you can just repeat a week. Remember it’s all about doing it at a pace that YOU and your dog are comfortable with
  • If running at dusk make sure you wear suitable reflective gear and have a torch so you can be safely seen
  • Take your phone with you in case you need to call for help, and let a loved one know where you are going and for roughly how long 
  • Always take plenty of water on your runs
  • Bring doggy treats as a reward
  • Bring Poo bags to clean up after your dog
  • Make reward your dog and make a big fuss after a session so they know they have done a good job
  • Do make the run positive for your dog with lots of positive tones to help cheer them on, keep them motivated and make it fun.
  • Do jump in puddles, run through mud and let your hair down! It’s really quite liberating!!


  • Don’t let your dog run if under the age of 1 year old as their growth plates are still developing so a lot of exercise can cause them harm later on in life
  • Don’t attach a lead to a collar which can pull on your dogs neck, making it uncomfortable to breathe and cause injury
  • Don’t take your dog for exercise on a full stomach. Wait at least 2 hours for both your stomachs to settle before doing activity.
  • Don’t feed your dog until 2 hours after you have finished exercising as it can cause bloating which can be fatal.
  • Don’t run on roads for long periods of time as it can badly affect your dogs joints and cause pad problems with their paws
  • Don’t push your dog to run faster, longer and harder if they are struggling and unable to do so, as this will be classed as abuse.
  • Don’t start hard and fast. It’s important you work your way up to fitness. If you’re a seasoned runner, but your dog is a beginner, you need to slowly increase their fitness level safely to avoid injury . 
  • If your pooch looks unhappy, STOP! Don’t carry on! Not all dogs like running and if your dog is one of those, then retire them. You can still carry on with the 5k challenge on your own.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously, it’s all about having fun and exploring the local countryside.

Keep this list in a safe place and if you are ever unsure about something drop an email to Pawrunner [email protected] who would will be happy to help.

Good luck and go show everyone how pawsome you are!

Would you like to take part in a FREE exercise programme designed for beginners who want to get fit with their furry friend? Take part in Tail Wag to 5K, start with a walk and build up your confidence week by week – until you run a 5K! Click here to download your free activity pack today!


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