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5 Benefits of Running with Dogs

By Guest Blogger Cristine Travis for Pet News and Views

The first time I ran with my dog, Brody, I returned to my house breathless, exhausted and wondering what I had gotten myself into. Knowing how much exercise could benefit both Brody and myself, I stuck with it. Then something amazing happened: Brody became a different dog.

The author running with her two dogs.

Brody is a Border Collie, a high-energy and high-intensity dog who tends to get into trouble. After several weeks of running, my hyper, obnoxious monster of a Border Collie turned into a calm, trainable friend.

Most people know that dogs need plenty of exercise and that running with a dog is a quick and fun way to provide them with it. But running doesn’t just keep dogs healthy and slim. It also offers numerous psychological and health benefits to owner and dog alike.

When dogs are under-stimulated, they tend to become destructive and hyper. Running helps to burn off nervous energy, which is especially helpful for puppies and dogs with separation anxiety issues. It also provides dogs with access to hundreds of new sights, sounds and–most importantly–smells. People often forget that dogs are led by their noses. When I began allowing Brody the opportunity to smell new people, animals and objects, the change was truly remarkable.

I now know that an ideal run for Brody is about two miles, and I purchased a Garmin sports watch to help me track our distance as well as keep track of my own pulse.

Because running is how dogs bond, running together is especially helpful for promoting various relationships. Brody, for example, had trouble getting along with my other dog, Zora, but as soon as they started running together I noticed more cooperation. He and I also built a sense of camaraderie together, with him slowly accepting me as a pack leader. This enabled me to relate to him as a friend rather than a strange interloper attempting to destroy everything in my house.

Brody was never an aggressive dog, but his lack of socialization often caused him to behave badly around dogs he didn’t know. Aggression is the most serious behavior problem dogs can exhibit because it poses both safety and legal risks. Running helps to eliminate aggression because it burns off energy and socializes dogs to new surroundings.

I knew that running could improve both Brody’s and my health by preventing obesity. But as it turns out, running doesn’t just keep dogs trim and fit. It can also help them live longer. Dogs are susceptible to many of the same illnesses people are, including stress-related health problems.

I had often worried about the effects of Brody’s anxiety on his health, but as he grew calm, I knew he would live well into old age. He’s now eight, and despite his breed’s predisposition to a host of chronic health problems including hip dysplasia and dementia, he’s still running strong.

As I learned on that first miserable day of running that it’s not so easy. It can, however, make a huge difference in a person’s mood. Heavy aerobic exercise releases powerful endorphins that not only improve mood in the moment; they can also reduce depression and anxiety over time. Even better, the more I ran, the more I learned to like it because of this strong endorphin rush. Now I can’t wait to get up and go running with my best friend.

Cristine Travis is a dog lover and certified dog trainer who hates running alone. She not only runs with her dog, Brody; she also frequently pushes her two-year-old niece, Grace, in her stroller.

25 comments to 5 Benefits of Running with Dogs

  • Joe

    I love running with my two dogs. We are all in great shape.

  • Shelia

    We got a very energetic puppy, so running is perfect. He is less destructive at home after a run.

  • Constance

    Our Lab is like Marley from the movie “Marley & Me.” He is a ball of energy and he gets into things he’s not supposed to. So, we started running too, and it has greatly calmed him down.

  • Judy

    I just want your readers to know that while running is a great form of exercise, you should have plenty of water on hand for you and your dog after a run. Summer heat is here, and running can be dangerous if you and your dog are not properly hydrated.

  • Caitlin

    My boyfriend runs with his dog and I started joining him. As a gift, I gave his dog a collapsible water bowl. They are light weight and easy to carry. We always end out runs at the dog park, where there is a water fountain.

  • Lisa

    Great post. I just got a puppy, and we are taking long walks. Running is great, and we are slowly working up to it.

  • John

    Thanks! I jog and take my dog for long walks–about 40-60 minutes. We all benefit from the exercise.

  • Roger

    running is my favorite activity, and my dog likes it too. Good article, and exercise can extend our lives–our dog’s lives too.

  • Yvonne

    I don’t run, but my dog, Coco, and I walk for at least 30 minutes 3x a day.

  • Ricky

    There are so many benefits to exercise. Even a long walk once a day followed by two shorter walks–or longer–if time permits, is the healthy thing to do, and yes, it does give us bonding time with our dogs.

  • Lavendar

    Love the post! I have cats, but I do accompany my neighbor on a few runs with her dog.

  • Josie

    My dog and I run on a track about 1/2 a mile from our house. The walk to and from the track is a great way to stretch and wind down.

  • Becca

    One word of caution: I get so angry when I see runners pulling their dogs. No one should push their dogs. Resting is important too.

  • Sharon

    I run with my two rescued greyhounds. I can’t keep up with them. We trot, and in the dog park, off leash, they are beautiful to watch.

  • Carol

    I agree with Judy, make sure you and your pets are properly hydrated. It is hot out there.

  • Orly

    And don’t forget sunscreen. Summer is here, and the sun seems hotter than ever. I put a tee-shirt on my dog and I use sunscreen. You don’t want to get a burn, and dogs are susceptible to sun burn too.

  • Looks like I need to give running with my dog another try…

  • Georgia

    Thanks for saying it’s not easy. It takes time to build. Go slow, and run a bit more each day.

  • Kaitlin

    My husband and I met running with our dogs. It’s a great solo and social way to work things out.

  • Nate

    Our moods are lifted after a run. We always feel great.

  • Zoe

    I love walking, and taking long walks with my dog. We get a lot of exercise and feel great too. Plus, we bond.

  • Kara

    Running does eliminate aggression, and it’s an important point. We all are calm after a run. I guess it’s those endorphins.

  • Samuel

    Glad Brody has calmed down. I am inspired, and have wanted to start running. This may be the push I need. Thanks.

  • Barbara

    I see Pet News and Views has a lot of in shape readers!I also run with my two dogs.

  • Love this article!!! I am a pet care provider and exercised dogs using a treadmill on excessively hot days or extremely inclement weather to avoid cabin fever. They loved it!!! Lori I’ve Got the ‘Scoop’!, LLC