tips for running with a dog

Tips for Running with a Dog that Pulls

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Tips for running with a dog that pullsAmerica is a country that has a distinct fondness for dogs with close to 70% of households in America owning a dog. Dog’s are great companion animals that require a lot of attention and stimulation for them to be healthy and happy. The best part of this is that with proper training and care a dog becomes less of a pet and more of a true friend and extension of yourself.

How to run with a dog that pulls?

Running with a dog can be frustrating if the dog is not properly trained. Using a harness and given proper training, running with your dog can be a highly rewarding activity.

For people who have a more active lifestyle, running with their dog can be a bit of a chore at first. More often than not a dog will get over-excited and run ahead of their owner, pulling on the leash. So running becomes corralling and loses its luster quickly becoming more frustrating than anything. However, dogs can easily be trained to run alongside their owners.

Use a Running Harness

The first piece of equipment to consider is trading out a collar for a running harness. There are several reasons for this. First some dogs, like Huskies, for instance, have a narrow triangular head. So if they run ahead and turn around a tug, they can tug themselves right out of their collar, and now their prey drive is in full effect, so good luck catching them.

A harness will ensure that your dog will not be able to escape the leash, and it also allows you to exert more control over their body weight. A collar gives a dog the full use of their body weight and force, with a harness you can easily exert control over a dog’s center of gravity, even larger heavier animals.

Ruffwear running harness for a dog that pulls

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Use a Hands-Free Running Leash

One of the best pieces of equipment other than the harness is to use a hands-free running leash. The hands-free leash allows you to have a natural running form but still be connected to your dog. Most of the leashes have a bungee type of cord so that if the dog takes of or goes to fast it doesn’t jerk you or cause injury to them. They fit nicely around the waist and some come with a ouch to carry keys or treats while you are running. You can see our favorite hands-free running leashes here.

Hands-free running dog leash

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Start with Walking

Instead of leaping directly into running with your dog, start with walking in a secure area without any distractions, such as your backyard or if that is not available a park when it isn’t full of people. Walking with your dog is more about being able to keep their attention on you, instead of what’s around them, and anyone who has a dog knows how easily excitable they can be.

  • Start with walking on a Leash – When your dog begins to get ahead or starts pulling, stop walking. This will reinforce the idea that pulling will not get your dog what they want or where they want to go. This makes them watch you for guidance and direction.
  • Give Rewards for Loose Leash Walking – You want to keep the dog close enough that the leash is loose. If the dog starts to get too far ahead and tensions the leash, call them back in an excited way as you stop walking. Once the dog comes to you, reward it with praise and a treat. If it begins to pull again, repeat this till they realize walking with you is the reward.
  • Keep Them Guessing – If they don’t come to you or continue to pull, turn around and start walking in a different direction. Couple this behavior with a phrase such as “This way” or “With me. This asserts that you are the one in control if the dog gets ahead and starts pulling. Repeat this as necessary until your animal realizes that pulling isn’t the goal.

Running with a Dog

Change Directions Often

Once your animal is walking with you, and it may take some time and effort depending on your dog’s age and personality, increase the variation of your walking. Such as walking in a figure like a square or a rectangle. Eventually, move into an environment with more distractions. As you reinforce the behavior of walking by your side you can begin to run with them.

You can also increase the challenge of the activity by changing your walking pace, forcing your dog to really pay attention to you. Increasing the level of distraction can also reinforce the need to pay attention to you, like throwing a ball outside of their reach which may cause them to pull in the direction, and then reversing direction.

Use Dog Treats They Actually Like

dog fish treats for runningRemember to stay positive and to use treats they like. Some dogs are highly food driven, others have a preferred toy like a tennis ball. Be sure to keep these on you while walking and use praise for the correct behavior. This is one of the most common things we see with training dogs. Owners will grab any bag of treat but fail to realize what really motivates their own dog. Our dog is motivated by human touch and wild caught dog fish treats. Often the stinkier and more fragrant the treat, the more our pups liked them.

Train Outside Etiquette

A dog will often stop to sniff and may try to mark their territory. This can be embarrassing or challenging depending on where you live, so it is also important to control this behavior as well. When beginning to train with your dog, be sure to stop often and give a verbal cue, such as “Go potty” or “Sniff.” Then when you are ready to continue walking again give the verbal cue you have for that, ending free time with “This way” or “Let’s go.”

This is also a reward for a behavior, allowing them to sniff or potty, so if they start pulling during free time, give them the walk cue and begin walking again.

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Training a dog can be just as challenging for the owner as it is for the dog. Remember that staying positive and using a happy and bright tone is very important. If at any point you find yourself becoming frustrated or your dog begins to seem confused, go ahead and stop training for a few hours or wait until you have relaxed and the dog is comfortable again.

Try to keep training sessions relatively short, say 15 to 20 minutes, with plenty of time in between. Dogs are very sensitive and easily overwhelmed by stimuli, so it’s better to take it slow and build on positive behaviors one at a time instead of throwing everything at them at once.


Dogs are absolutely fantastic animals that have the phrase “Mankind’s best friend” for a reason. Once you understand the basic pattern of dog training you will find out just how easy it is to train. You will be running with your dog in no time.


Written by Michael Minor for

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