The many benefits of running with dogs

It’s no secret I am a dog lover for many reasons, including their value as running partner. In fact, if If running with another human being is not your style, a hairy person is a great substitute! There are many benefits to running with dogs. Here are a few of the reasons why, brought to you by a number of dog lover/runners:

Dogs are the most reliable, consistent and enthusiastic running partners you will EVER have. According to Amber Dawn Hunter, owner/author of  Women of Strength: “Whether it is -30 degrees or 6 a.m. and dark or drizzling rain or Christmas Day, the dog doesn’t care. He is there, excited to run, regardless. He doesn’t care the distance you are running, the pace or the workout (well unless it is hill repeats, he doesn’t like hill repeats). He will never cancel due to weather, fatigue or hangover. In fact, on the days you are tired, dragging your butt and procrastinating the run, he will whine, howl and pester you until you get out the door.” Here’s a picture of Harley, the self-proclaimed best thing that has ever happened to AD’s running. (And by the looks of her running talents, that’s saying something!)

Their energy is contagious. When I asked Julie Bream of Peanut Butter Finger her favorite thing about running with her dog,  Sadie, she quickly responded: “Her energy level. When I start to feel tired, I look to her for enthusiasm, because she’s always bounding after the next juicy stick or jumping up at me because she’s enjoying the process of running so much.” Here’s a picture of Julie with her dog Sadie before a run. (I can’t decide who is cuter; they are both so adorable!)

And their happiness is contagious, too. Honestly, have you ever seen a dog that looked sad and forlorn to be outside running? Whether your dog is off-leash on a trail in the woods or glued to your side in the city, he or she is blissfully happy to see and smell the sights. Here’s a picture of Terri’s dogs, Worf and Shadow, running in the foothills of Boise. They look so darn happy, they might just jump out of their skin.

Here’s Kona, who gets written about daily by her mom, AC, in Running with Kona. She looks equally as happy running in the foothills of L.A.

Dogs are great conversationalists. Ever known a dog to talk back, ignore you or tell you your idea is crazy or stupid? Just think of all the problems you can solve together on a single jog (especially if you are covered in mud). Shelby helped me solve many of the world’s greatest dilemmas.

Running wears dogs out. A tired dog is much more enjoyable to be around than one climbing the walls full of energy. They need their exercise, too! Plus, you’ll spend far less time chasing after them for inordinate objects clenched between their teeth. And you might also prevent in-house poop accidents, especially when they are puppies. This is a picture of Walden (aka Crazy) after a run. He can’t even stand up to drink his water. (I could never take a picture of him running with me because, on leash, he’s nearly knocking me to the ground–and on the trails, he’s nowhere in sight).

Dogs keep you safe. I am still convinced I have never had a problem with strangers and intruders, thanks to my loyal and loving dogs. I’ve run at night in Boston, in the early morning hours in Seattle and in the remote woods of Boise – and never had a single altercation. But I can also guarantee my dogs wouldn’t let a stranger live to tell about it. Here’s another picture of Harley with his mom, AD. Do you think he’s going to let anything happen to her?

They’ll run you. This probably says more about my dog-training ability than anything else, but I have a tendency to run with dogs who take me for a run. Or so I constantly hear from passers-by. Here’s another picture Shelby, who took me on many a run for nearly 11 years, especially if water was nearby.

Dogs age gracefully and adapt accordingly. (Get your handkerchief ready).  Missy Hulbert, who writes about Ironmans, IronThings, TriThings and Life Things had this to say about her dog Kasha.  “I hope I age as gracefully as Kasha.  Kasha was my steadfast running partner for years.  She protected me in the dark of night, she was a willing partner in the morning, her job was me.  It was that simple, take care, protect me. When she couldn’t run any more, we swam.  Again, she was steadfast protector trying to ‘save’ all swimmers passing by.  Kasha thought they were certain to drown and SHE was going to save them.”

She continues: “Kasha wasn’t graceful or fluid…like me.  I guess it was her will and determination that made us such good partners.  We were like minded.  It was her will that allowed her go as long as she did. Yep, on land or in the water, will, determination, strength, that’s my Kasha.”


Melinda Hinson