running with your dog.

What are the maximum length runs you can do with a dog? Am training for a September marathon and curious how far I can take my very fit one year old collie?


  • As above. Two of our German Shepherds have run a marathon with no problem. I would however be careful what surface you train on, too much running on tarmac can damage their paws. If you are training on soft surfaces, then as long as you build your dog up slowly the same way as you train yourself, you will probably find he/she will outrun you no matter what distance you do. All of our dogs have been great runners and willing/able to run anything we wanted. 10-year-old Oz is still happy to do up to 15km and then go swimming afterwards, and 5-year-old Nemo just keeps on going.

  • My dog has now run a few marathon with me and when I was running a lot last year he would happily run 70mile a week. But like KK says build the miles slowly
  • Scout

    I have a working lab, and he's done upto 19 miles with me quite happily.

    We started doing 1-2 mile laps of the park when he was just over 12 months, and built slowly from there. He absolutely loves it when we're out... and he is a much more chilled relaxed dog when he gets plenty of exercise, so it's a win-win

    So, my advice would be to start slowly, and enjoy it. The sensation of running with your dog is fantastic......
  • A member of our running club has a dog (fox-hound / beagle cross) that has run an ultra with him. The dog will have run further, since it was running ahead, back, etc. all the time.

    Did you see the news article about the dog in China running thousands of miles with a cycle race recently?

    Makes me suspect Born to Run's argument about humans being much better adapted to running distances than dogs is BS.
  • my 1 year old collie is up to 20km now and looks fresh as a daisy at the end...only caveat is on warmer days.

    as kat says build it slowly as you would yourself.

  • Thanks guys. I absolutely love running with her, definately the best running companion.
  • We have recently got a springer puppy. Walking twice daily and I really want to start running with him. When we get to the part, his initial reaction once off the lead is to bound away. Would people suggest starting running with the lead or initially walking off the lead and then start to run a little?

  • We have a lab/collie cross and I still haven't found her limit !! As working dogs Collies can cover 50 miles per day. Dogs do have to build up their fitness levels though. Bear in mind that if you start doing 20 mile runs the dog will expect you to keep it up.
  • None! We have a springer and she just runs round your feet and trips you up! Or she does her business just 100m out of the road so you're forced to carry it along with you. However if we took her on a run he would just keep going an going, she has a lot of stamina.
  • @ Scooby

    I always start with some running on lead, and even though the majority of the runs I do with my dog are through forests and open countryside, I regularly call him back to me and make his run on lead for a little bit..... it helps him to know whose in control, and it emphasises the fact that any time I call (or whistle) that there is a reason why he has to come back immediately...
  • YoungPup

    Cheers for that. I am still in the process of training to come on command and such, so I will wait until I get that sorted before I let him off. I may try a little bimble at the end of a walk to the park, just to see how he reacts.

  • Good luck! And remember that dogs need "training" too! One of my friends knackered her dobermann on a run once while she was training for a marathon..


  • Ha ha re 'doing their business' - my working cocker is great for that ;P I've been running with him on one of those extendable leads leaving it unlocked so he can be reeled in when necessary because I run on footpath mostly, for now. Thinking of one of those belts though - what do you think?
  • Love doing a  3M run with Geordie Our 14 month Balck Labrador

  • Has anyone tried the cani-x belts/harness combos? Normally run with her off the lead but for longer training runs will have to include some road work.
  • that's exactly what i've been researching but am nervous about taking the plunge...

  • Scout

    I have never used the Cani-x belts or a harness, and I just run with a slip lead attached to a bum belt ( which I use to carry poo bags, etc..)

    If your dog will run to heel ( and not pull like a husky) then I don't see the need for a harness, or a spring loaded belt.....

  • Collies can generally run any person into the ground. I marshalled at the Highland Fling (53 miles) this year and counted at least 3 dogs running it. Two of them were collie / collie X types. All of them were off the lead, though at another ultra earlier in the year I saw a woman running with a dog on a cani-X harness. Suppose the thing to watch with the harness would be that it didn't chafe the dog anywhere on longer runs.

    I take my Lab/collie X with me on all my long runs and he's never had a problem. We usually train on tarmac bike paths where he can run along the grass verge, and I regularly check his pads for wear and tear. I love training with him - as a lone female runner it gives me a great sense of security on dark winter nights.

  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭

    Agree with all that - the only caveat being I'd be a bit wary in hot weather but I'm sure any dog owner would be anyway.    When I ran with my Belgian Shepherd if it was warm I'd try and choose routes with lakes or rivers - she likes swimming so she could go in and cool off and have a drink.   

    I never used a cani-x belt or harness either - it was mostly off road and I'd get her to run to heel which she does pretty well - next to the road I'd just use a lead and hold it in my hand but again she does run to heel really well - I've had dogs before that I'd be tripping over if I tried that.

  • So if I train my labs to do longer distances they'll eventually manage more than the 3 or 4 miles they currently manage with me? Aren't long distances bad for their hips?

  • Hi all - we've just started taking our 18 month old Jack Russell out for 4 - 5k runs with us. 

    We got our waist belt from (£20) and just use her normal walking  fleece lined harness (though we're keeping an eye on whether it starts to rub her armpits as we go along - and are considering a proper running harness for her birthday).  The belt is brilliant, especially the elasticated bungee aspect and she doesn't mind being on it at all.  We let her off as a 'treat' but she never strays too far anyway.  The biggest problem we have is that she still goes through phases of dilly dallying for a sniff - which is fine as long as you're not actually 'training' oh and people laughing at 'the smallest husky in the world'. image

  • I have a 3 year old dalmation and she runs with me every morning and loves (well she looks like she's smiling to me).

    She's naturally built up to 14km with me and as I'm training for a marathon she'll eventually get up to that distance too.  I run with a lead as she is completely deaf and can't let her off; she'll also very "playful" with other dogs and purches which is why I won't use a harness.

  • IKFY - My labrador is two years old, and over the space of the last 7 months we have gradually increased his mileage such that he will now regularly do between 10-14 miles with me, and on one occasion where I miscalculated he has done 18 miles. 

    I think it can depend on the individual animal, but provided they are not carrying excess weight (not suggesting they are, but loads of labs do) then I don't think there's any reason why you can't train a lab to run well in excess of 3-4 miles.....


  • For breeds known to commonly suffer from hip problems - which I think Labs do - a trip to your vet for a general check-up might be a good idea just to make sure there are no underlying biomechanical problems before you start running them too hard.

    But yes, healthy Labs should be able to go long distance. I saw a programme recently about Alaskan sled dogs and the people that breed them, and they said that they breed Labs in with their huskies as Labs are much better for endurance. They said the best sled dogs tend to be about a third Lab.

    Generally speaking, the more dog-like a dog actually looks, the better able it should be to run long distances. Collies, labs, dalmatians, dobermans, greyhounds, bigger spaniels and most average shaped mongrels should be able to run for hours. The less dog-shaped a dog is, it's going to have problems. You don't see many bassets or pekes or great danes out running!

    Most terriers have unbelievable endurance but might struggle a bit depending what speed you normally go at. I've also got a miniature short leg jack russell who can run all day, but only at her speed, not mine. She comes hillwalking with me but I have to leave her behind when I go running.

  • Completely agree with you runs-with-dogs, and it's important to say that with labs and bigger dogs that you shouldn't start them running too early as their bones and joints are still growing until they are at least 12 months old.

    I made sure I'd been to the vet with mine, and got their approval to run with him, before I even took him for a trot around the park with me, and I checked regularly with the vet whilst we were building up the mileage.

    Sorry to descend into pictures, but this is my lab, and he can out run me any day of the week, over any distance I care to run.....



  • We've run with all of our dogs and always have their hips and elbows x-rayed at about 12 months old to be sure the joints are healthy before running any longer distances. Once the all-clear is given, we train our dogs the same way we train ourselves, i.e. slowly increasing the distance. Make sure water is available nearby - if no streams or lakes take an extra water bottle for the dog. Two of our Shepherds have run a marathon race without any problems. This is Nemo, my current companion, he's up to half-marathon distance.



  • My flat-coat retreiver happily runs with me for miles. I think she tires quicker if I'm on roads where she has to be on the lead and thus run at my pace, whereas off the lead (which she generally is since I normally run trails), where she can determine her own pace and dilly-dally around or race off ahead a bit, she seems to be happier.

  • Normal, tishtosh, our dogs tend to cover a lot more miles than we do because they are forever running up and down banks, forging ahead and coming back again, etc.

  • ChimneyChimney ✭✭✭

    I take my two out with me. We got them as rescues, one about two, one about four - Heinz 57 type terrier-ists. Fortunately, I started running at the same time so we built up together. Foxy adores running and as soon as I start putting my running gear on he's jumping about and can hardly contain himself. He'll run off, run back constantly. he is the epitome of the duracell bunny. I really hate to think how far I'd have to go before he got tired! Patchy on the other hand just trots along at my heels, stops for a sniff and catches up (She's the older). Last year we did a 40 miler. There's a photo on the net somewhere of us at about the 36m mark with me looking finished and those two looking like they'd just started.....

    I love running with them as much as they love running with me.

    If reality matched intention I'd know I was dreaming
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