Your dog doesn’t need help getting motivated for a run. While you groan at the sight of your running shoes, the pooch wags its tail and spins in circles at just the jingle of the leash.
But just grabbing any old leash off the rack and thinking you and Fido can go for a good jog with it is foolish. Hand-held leashes are easy to drop, and you can’t properly swing your arms while jerking on the leash. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there designed especially for joggers who want their best friend to tag along.
Here’s what you should look for to help make jogging and exercising with your best friend a little more fun for both of you.
This is one of the most important details to any jogging leash. If the leash doesn’t connect to your belt or wrap around your waist, it’s no good for a dog jog. For one, as you hustle along the trail a hand-held leash will be easier to drop than when you are out for a slow stroll.
But carrying a leash also means you’re going to ruin your running form. And that almost defeats the purpose of the entire exercise.
Even if you are running somewhere where the dog can safely run off the lead, the waist-connected leash is a good idea. You might fancy yourself a pretty speedy runner, but your dog is faster. Having a leash connected means the dog will have to go at your pace, and you won’t have to strain to keep up.
Another perk of a leash that connects to your waist is that you can run with more than one dog. Several models make it easy to attach second and third leashes, so strap in all the dogs and hit the trail.
Give some space
If staying upright is important to you, then choosing the right length of leash needs to be a chief considerations. If the leash is too short, you are going to be kicking the dog’s back legs. If it is too long — and the dog slows down a few notches — you run the risk of getting the leash wrapped around your ankles.
Heather Ratynski, Colorado manager for Chuck and Don’s pet supply, said even dogs who are well-trained to stay close to their owner’s heels during a walk should be allowed a little extra space when they run.
It isn’t realistic to expect the pooch to stay heeled for a run, she said, so pick a leash that lets them get out in front a few feet.
Ratynski, who runs regularly with her five Dutch Shepherds — often with two or three of them at a time — said about six feet is usually the ideal leash length for running. But, as with every factor that comes into play when choosing a leash, she said it depends on the dog and the runner.
When you go for a jog with a fellow biped, the two of you likely aren’t going to keep the exact same pace for the whole run. But the little variations pass unnoticed.
That isn’t so easy for you and the pooch when you are tethered to each other. If you slow down, it means a tug on the dog’s neck. If the dog speeds up, you can expect to feel the subsequent jerk at your hips.
Luckily, leash makers are well prepared for this sort of thing. Many jogging leashes these says come with a portion of elastic, bungee-cord like material. That stretch of elasticity means those slight variations in running speed won’t matter as much.
In Colorado, getting fit with your dog isn’t limited to running on concrete. Hiking is another option.
If you are worried about your dog tearing up their paws, booties are a good option.
Ratynski said some dogs hate having their feet covered, so it is important to ease them into the new shoes. Try them on a couple paws first and let the dog get used to them before a hike, she said.
And, Ratynski says, you should avoid buying boots that you haven’t tried on the dog yet.
“The most important thing for those is fit,” she says.
Here is a look at some cool products:
Runner’s Choice Hands free leash
This one checks all the boxes you are looking for in a fitness leash. It clips to the belt, has a stretch of elastic and stretches to more than four feet long.
$47.95 at irondoggy.com
The DoggerJogger bike dog leash
If you prefer a bike ride to a run, this is the leash for you. It clips to your bike’s frame behind the pedals so you won’t get tangled, and it lets the pooch jog comfortably next to you.
$45 at doggerjogger.com
Ruffwear Bark’N Boots Polar Trex Dog Boots
With these, your dog might have fancier footwear than you do. With durable rubber soles and heavy canvas, these provide a dog ample protection from the cold and from rough ground.
$94.99 at cabelas.com