Man’s Best Friend: 5 Benefits of Running with Your Dog

Man is running on the beach with his dog

Whether rain or shine, a dog is always up for a walk. With a little training, your dog can be the ideal running partner and motivator.

Man is running on the beach with his dog

Here are 5 benefits of running with your dog:

1. A dog heightens your senses

Always keep in mind that when you run with your dog, you are responsible for it. Running forces you to anticipate hazards and to assess situations accurately (for instance, traffic situations). Plus, it is important to watch for other dogs, pedestrians or joggers. It is especially important to be aware of your surroundings when running in the woods (e.g. on the lookout for other animals).

Benefit:
For many people, running is just a short break in the day. Some just go through the motions of their workout without really being conscious of it. The attention required when running with your dog heightens your senses and improves your reaction time. You will experience running in an entirely new way and simultaneously boost the training effect.

2. A dog helps you switch up your training

Dogs are always dashing around, sniffing the ground and they hate to run at the same pace. And that’s good! After all, they can help you shake up your cardio training.

Benefit:
The training routines of runners tend to be rather monotonous. They often lack the necessary intensity and variety to improve running performance. When you run with your dog, you are forced to react to your dog’s frequent changes in pace. This keeps your running dynamic. Plus, it pushes your body to adapt to new step frequencies and pace changes. Take-away: With a dog at your side, slow long-distance runs are a thing of the past. This change will do your running good.

3. A dog is your workout planner

Most runners plan their route as well as their workout shortly before or even during their run. Running with your dog, however, requires a little more planning. First, you should know exactly how long your workout will take. Plus, you should consider what surface to run on: you should avoid running on pavement or gravel whenever possible to protect your dog’s paws and joints. You should also look for shady routes when the hot sun is beating down. The best routes are those near a river or a lake.

Benefit:
Running with your dog forces you to plan your workout ahead of time. This way you are constantly aware of how hard and how much you are working your body. You can change and rearrange your workout in advance at any time.

A man is running in the forrest with his dog

4. Your dog is your bodyguard

Dogs make excellent bodyguards on a run. When they sense danger, they will do anything to protect their owner. The mere presence of a dog is often enough to scare away potential muggers. And in the case of a health emergency, your canine may even prove to be your lifesaver.

Benefit:
Many runners feel safer running with a dog, especially in the evening. Plus, they tend to stick to their running goals when they have a loyal running partner at their side.

5. A dog is always motivated

Running with your dog is never a bad idea! Your training partner is always highly motivated and excited to keep stride with you. Plus, your dog won’t be full of excuses or whine about bad weather. And as soon as your canine gets used to running, it will be the one dragging you out the door.

Benefit:
Sometimes we aren’t really motivated to go running – it’s often difficult to take that first step out the door. This is where your furry running partner can come in handy. A dog has to go outside to do its business. Since you are going outside anyway, you might as well as get your run in while you’re at it.

The bottom line:

Having a dog as your training partner is not always easy. A dog turns every run into a  never-ending fartlek. It tugs at the leash constantly and makes it impossible to maintain proper form. Your four-legged buddy also makes you stop during your long runs and you can forget about the famous “runner’s high” with your attention-starved canine at your side. And still, a dog gives you infinitely more than it gets from your running experience.

Dogs love to run. Your dog will shower you with boundless joy every time you lace up your running shoes and head out the door. It will be a constant source of enthusiasm and passion for as long as it lives.

Don’t concentrate on the problems of running with a dog, but enjoy the time working out together. Your dog is the only running partner that will always love you more than itself!

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Sascha Wingenfeld Sascha, health trainer & active triathlete, has been coaching runners from beginners to professionals for over 10 years. "I love my job and I love running." View all posts by Sascha Wingenfeld »

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