How To Trail Run With Your Dog

There’s trail running – and then there’s trail running with your dog by your side. Running with your best friend by your side elevates the experience. Their energy is infectious. 

Trail running together is an opportunity to form an even deeper bond. Before taking this adventure together, you need to prepare to ensure a great experience for both you and your dog.

Assess your dog’s physical attributes. Some dogs are built for physical activity while others are not. Depending on your dog’s breed and size, you may want to consider other physical activities together that will be less strenuous.

Make sure your dog is trained for the trail. It’s important that your dog has the endurance to run with you for a sustained period of time and that they are well trained. Some basic commands like “Sit”, “Leave It”, “Come”, and “Stay” can save you from a potential crisis on the trail.

Generate an interest. If your dog already likes to run, great. If you haven’t broached the idea of running to your dog then we recommend taking it slow. On your next walk, try jogging for a few minutes and see how your dog responds.

Start very slow. Once you’re on the trail, there’s no going back so start slow by training your dog to run with you. Try running in an area familiar to your dog for a mile or two at a time and see how your dog responds. If your dog is showing signs of wanting to stop or slow down, make sure to do so.

Introduce your dog to the trail you want to run. Start by going on walks so your dog gets familiar with the trail you eventually plan to run together. Feeling comfortable with the smells of the trail will help your dog stay focused when you decide to run it together.

Visit the vet. Similar to how people are encouraged to visit a doctor before trying a new exercise, it’s important to speak with your vet before you start running with your dog. Consider your dog’s age, endurance, and if your dog needs any specific vaccinations or medicines to prepare for the trail run.

Do A Trail Check. Depending on where you live, there are tons of trails to choose from. Picking the right one is a critical first step. Things to consider include:

  • Distance – A trail that is too long will cause your dog uncomfortable fatigue. Judge distance based on your dog’s endurance.
  • Terrain – Rough terrain can be dangerous for a dog. Make sure to choose a trail that limits your dog’s chance of injury.
  • Accessibility – Make sure the trail you choose is easy to access for your four-legged friend.
  • Trail Traffic – A busy trail, especially for an inexperienced trail runner, can make it difficult for your dog to focus.
  • Leash Laws – Make sure the trail is pet-friendly and be aware of the leash laws.

Bring The Proper Active Dog Gear. The right gear is absolutely necessary for a trail run to ensure that you are well prepared for anything. The following list of gear is comprehensive but you can always add more gear so if in doubt, bring it.

  • Poop Bags – No one wants to step in poop while on the trail so please clean up after your dog. 
  • Water – Everyone needs water when they exercise so make sure to pack a bottle of water for your dog and yourself. 
  • Bowl – You can use a bowl of a water bottle that’s designed for dogs. 
  • Treats – Reward your dog for their hard work and use treats to control them if needed.
  • Boots – Dog paws are pretty tough but boots add extra protection to a dog just in case they step on something sharp or the terrain gets slippery. 
  • Runner’s Leash – Specially designed leashes connect to your belt and leave enough slack/flexibility to avoid anyone getting pulled. 
  • Harness – A breathable active harness provides more control over your dog than a collar does.
  • Rain Jacket – In most cases, you can prepare for poor weather but having a rain jacket in certain climates is a must at all times just in case the weather turns.

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