Your best buddy enjoys taking you for a run every morning. However, you've added another dog to the mix. What now? Can two dogs safely run with one human? Just the idea of running with multiple dogs can seem totally overwhelming. Don't stress over it! With the proper techniques, training, and (especially!) the right equipment, running with two dogs can be double the morning fun.
Before You Start...
Ask yourself if your dogs are good potential running partners. Are they of a similar size, age, and physical condition? A Yorkie is going to have a hard time keeping up with a German Shepherd. The same goes for an older dog paired with a frisky one-year-old. And an obese couch potato is probably better off going for regular walks or swims rather than runs. At least until she trades some of that fat for muscle!
Do they get along well together? If they don't, you're asking for trouble if you expect them to run together. The constraint of being leashed in close proximity to a frenemy can trigger aggression in a fearful dog. It might also encourage bullying behavior in the more dominant dog.
Have they had the same level of training? This means both obedience training and physical conditioning. You might want to have your vet confirm that they're both fit enough for running.
Choosing the Right Leashes
Running with a dog can be dangerous without the proper equipment. Add another dog and you've just doubled the danger. So choosing a good hands-free leash is vital. Pick one that you can easily add a second leash to and you'll be good to go as soon as your dogs are.
Having both hands free will let you take care of corrections or any other problems instantly. The last thing you need when strange dogs or a sudden influx of people approach is to have both hands full of leashes!
Leashes that are specially designed with runners in mind will reduce the chances that you'll be pulled off balance or even tripped while running.
Training Your Dogs to Run Together
Before you can all start running together, it's imperative that each dog knows a few basic obedience skills. As in, having them down pat! This will help ensure the safety of both your pack and other people and animals you may encounter.
Basic skills your dogs must excel at:
- "Watch me!" is an important command for any dog to know. This command teaches your dog to focus on you and be alert to changes in direction, stops, and other moves that can affect everyone's safety during a run. Can you imagine the chaos that could ensue when you change direction but neither dog is paying attention?
- Loose leash walking is exactly what it sounds like — your dog walking comfortably near you. He doesn't have to execute a perfect heel, but he shouldn't be lagging or tugging either.
- Loose leash running is an acceleration of the previous step. Does your dog know how to run at your side without tripping you or throwing you off balance? Now is the time to practice running together before you throw another dog into the mix.
- Your dogs should also know sit/stay. If you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a crowd or in a hazardous situation, you'll be glad to have this command at your fingertips!
- In a worst-case scenario, you'll want each of your dogs to have an extremely reliable off-leash come the response. It could save your beloved pet's life!
Once they're each comfortable running with you, it's time to start training together. Start off by walking as a group across multiple terrains. Do both dogs seem comfortable? Then it's probably time to kick things up a notch. Training to run as a pack on a soft sand beach is perfect since the sand will slow the dogs down naturally.
Gradually increase the speed and duration of your run. Just make sure you're monitoring both dogs for signs of distress like heavy panting, lagging, or whimpering. Remember, you're running as a pack and the pack's weakest member should dictate the speed and duration of the run.
Practice Healthy Running Habits
Before you set out, choose a running surface that's easy on paws (grass, sand, or dirt), or protect your pups' paws with booties or paw wax. Be mindful of the weather and try to run when it's neither too hot nor too cold and wet for your dogs' comfort. Take along plenty of water for all of you and a few snacks to keep everyone's energy up.
Do you warm up and cool down properly when going for a run? Well, so should your pups! A proper warm-up will prepare them for the exercise ahead. And a great cool down will help those hard-working muscles relax afterward.
Brushing your dogs after a run will massage their muscles and help them relax. A good brushing will also remove dangerous foxtails, annoying ants, and other perils of the trail. Don't forget to check their ears, around their eyes, and between their toes for any thorns, burrs, or foxtails. Also, check for ticks, either before you get in the car or as soon as you get home. That's the kind of running trophy that nobody wants to bring home!
Finally, comfortable beds where they can stretch out and relax will ensure that they look forward to more runs with their favorite human. If you love running with dogs and would like more tips on how to make it as safe, easy, and enjoyable as possible, visit our Dog Blog. And if you have questions or would just like to share your experiences, give us a woof. We love to chat with people who love running with dogs as much as we do!