A couple goes for a run with their dog.

Signing up for a race with your dog is a great way to keep you committed to your dog’s and your own exercise schedule, and it often has the added benefit of supporting a cause. Running with your dog can help burn up pent-up energy that may be otherwise directed at problem behaviors and can keep you mentally and physically fit as well.

Before the big day, it’s important to train together. Don’t assume that your dog can keep up with your pace or run well alongside you. You should slowly build up to the length and speed of the race. If you or your dog are beginners in running together the Pack Leader Collar will help training. 

Here are a few tips for racing with your dog: 

Talk to your vet
Only healthy, balanced dogs should participate in races. If you have any concerns about your dog’s ability, consult with your veterinarian.

Run with other dogs
During their race, you’ll be surrounded by other people and dogs. It’s best to test this out in advance by heading out to parks frequented by other dogs or finding others who may be training for the race to practice with.

Visit the route in advance
It’s another way to spot potential issues before the big day. Is there anything you should be aware of along the way? Does anything grab your dog’s attention unexpectedly? Preparing now can prevent problems later.

Bring water for both of you
Over-exhaustion and heat stroke are the primary concerns when doing a race with your dog. Don’t get so caught up in the excitement that you forget to monitor your dog’s well-being. Stop if either of you needs it.

Make sure your dog can participate
Most races don’t allow pups to participate, so you want to find an event that’s explicitly geared towards human and canine racers. When in doubt, consult the rules or give them a call.

10 dog-friendly races around the U.S.

Ready to start running with your dog? Here are a few events to consider:

  1. The Long Dog Derby — Denver, Colorado (September)
    This race, which takes place during Denver’s Oktoberfest, celebrates the ultimate long dog — the dachshund — but any breed of dog can participate in the Long Dog Derby Costume Contest or the Weiner Wanna-be Race.
  2. Tom Madzy Short Run and Family Dog Walk — Berea, Ohio (September)
    Proceeds from this event support low-income student athletes, enabling them to pay their participation fees for athletic events.
  3. Paws & Claws 5K Run/Walk — Hopkinton, Massachusetts (October)
    Proceeds for this event benefit Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton, and the USA Track & Field-certified course has beautiful vistas to enjoy along the way.
  4. Race for the Rescues — Portland, Oregon and Pasadena, California (October)
    This event takes place in two different cities, Portland and Pasadena, and is a non-profit, timed sporting event that supports local animal welfare organizations in both locations.
  5. Doggie Dash & Dawdle — Albuquerque, New Mexico (November)
    This is the largest fundraising event of Animal Humane New Mexico, with over 4,500 attending.
  6. Dog N Jog — Davis, California (February)
    This event is hosted by UC Davis School of Veterinary students and the Students for One Health club with a goal of “outrunning” canine obesity. After the races, stop by for the “Puppy Palooza” health fair.
  7. Atlanta Dog Jog – Atlanta, Georgia (April)
    This event supports two canine charities: VetHeart of Georgia (formerly the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association Foundation) and Canine Companions for Independence.
  8. Dog-N-Jog — Kansas City, Missouri (June)
    Support the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City for a 2-mile run, 1-mile run, or 1-mile walk.
  9. Furry 5k — Seattle, Washington (June)
    This fun run and walk supports the Seattle Animal Shelter. Puppies under 6 months old must participate in the walk, not the run, for safety reasons.
  10. Rocky Dog Trail Run — Vail, Colorado (June)
    Go for a 5K run or a one-mile run/walk on and around Vail Mountain in Colorado as part of the summer GoPro Mountain Games.

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