Doggone It! How To Trail Run With Your Dog

Junebug the dog trail running.

Junebug running in the eastern Sierra Nevada.

The way its ears lay back, how its tongue falls from the side of its wide-open mouth, the fluidity of its gait: a moving dog is a happy dog. Some dog breeds are built for short walks, while others are made for lightning sprints. And, still others are built with endurance any runner would envy. At whatever the appropriate speed and distance, a dog in motion is a happy pooch.

Some of us runners like to share our prized sport with canid companions. For example, my dog, a Border Collie who could run almost forever, was my running companion for eight years. She and I shared thousands of road and trail miles. Old age is getting the best of her these days, so she’s now my favorite company for a walk around the block.

Trail running with a dog is an awesome way to spend a day. I won’t forget running with Junebug on dusty, Chihuahuan Desert roads or along elk trails crisscrossing Montana’s sagebrush plateaus. Trail running with a dog can also turn terrible. This winter, a co-worker’s dog nearly died after falling into a creek and becoming lodged underneath ice. To save the dog, its owner had to go underwater to pull the dog out. When the dog turned up not breathing, they performed doggie CPR. The dog survived, but I bet its owners wished the day had proceeded differently. And, take a look at this sad story of a man who died last weekend trying to save his dog while on a hike. [Broken link to Wend Mag (RIP) removed.]

Success while trail running or otherwise adventuring in the great outdoors with a dog requires a bit of conscious effort. It’s your job, as the dog’s owner, to make responsible decisions on behalf of the environment, other trail users, and your dog.

Caring for the Environment
Most trails are located on land that’s being conserved by someone or some agency, from private lands with conservation easements to public lands under city, county, state, or federal management. And, conserved lands typically have regulations for use developed to maintain their natural integrity.

Junebug the dog on a snowshoe trip in Montana.

Junebug on a snowshoe trip in Montana.

Some areas may have dog-use regulations in place to prevent watershed contamination via dog feces. This is common in natural areas that serve as both popular play places as well as water sources for large human populations. Dog use is also regulated in natural areas for wildlife protection. Ground-nesting birds, animals that perceive dogs as predators, and wild canids are examples of wild animals that can be negatively affected by the presence of dogs.

If a trail system permits dogs, it is still up to you to do no harm to the environment. When passing through a delicate wetland, leash your dog so that it doesn’t trample vegetation. Follow the area’s recommendations for feces cleanup. Do not allow your dog to chase wildlife. It’s my opinion that a dog can have a negligible impact on the environment through which it travels with a little help from its owner.

Caring for Other Trail Users
Some folks love dogs, and some folks don’t. I, for one, love dogs I know. But I don’t love an approaching unknown dog. That’s because a strange dog punched its canine all the way through a piece of my hand about five years ago on a trail run.

Some natural areas have enacted dog regulations to provide everyone trail access whether they are a dog lover or not. Nearby-to-me, for example, some areas have dog days and non-dog days in alternating fashion. Other natural areas have dog leash laws in place to keep dogs under control and, thus, away from the folks who don’t want to share the wilderness with canids.

Junebug the dog on a trail run in Death Valley National Park.

Junebug on a run in Death Valley National Park.

Beyond regulation, trail running dog owners should also possess the skills needed to keep their dogs to themselves. You should have the ability to recall your pooch under every dog-distracting circumstance. Can you keep your dog away from someone’s squeaky bike, a trail runner hauling arse, or another dog? The answer should be yes. Such infallible control, be it via a leash or voice, is founded in obedience training and practice long before you hit the trail.

Caring for Your Dog

Junebug the dog on a hike in southern Utah

Junebug on a hike in southern Utah.

A dog is a dog, a little creature with moderate intelligence that will do almost anything to please its owner. Some dogs know their limits. But, let’s face it, most don’t. Dog owners are, thus, more like dog governors.

When you’re planning a voyage, think about how the terrain, the trip’s length, and the area climate will affect your pooch. Will hours of repeated padding on rough terrain injure your dog’s feet? Several years ago, I took Junebug on a 20-mile run on the dirt roads of Death Valley National Park. By the end, the pads of her feet were tender and cracked. I learned the hard way the toll terrain took on my dog’s feet. If you worry about foot injuries, get a pair of dog booties and let your pooch practice wearing them around the neighborhood first.

If you’re planning a long trail run with your dog, consider its fitness level and make certain that your dog has the endurance to happily go the distance. For long trail runs or outdoor adventures, your dog needs food and water, just like you do. Sometimes your dog can drink from creeks and lakes to hydrate, while you’ll need to carry water for your dog in other areas.

Weather affects dogs. Some dogs are not made for exercise in extreme heat or cold, while other dogs don’t like stormy weather. Border Collies are notoriously sensitive to loud noises, so taking Junebug on a run in a thunderstorm would torture her. If your dog is big, black, and furry, think twice about a long run on hot day.

One last note on caring for your dog when you’re trail running: keeping your dog under leash or voice control also keeps it safe. Once, at the knife-edge top of Montana’s Bridger Mountains, about seven miles out and in rugged terrain, I encountered a couple looking for their dog. The previous day, the unleashed dog ran away from them and didn’t come back. I don’t know if that dog was ever found, but can you imagine what type of death a lost domestic dog might have in a place as wild as Montana.


A Couple Last Thoughts
The politics of dogs on trails is, in many geographic areas, contentious. Your dog deserves a lifetime of good play, and so does everyone else out there. Keep everyone happy, including your canid best friend, by following local dog regulations and making decisions in the name of your dog’s safety.

Do you run with your dog? If so, what have been your favorite experiences… and your toughest? Whether or not you have a dog, what do you see as the biggest issues with dogs on the trails?

Junebug the dog trail running in Montana

Meghan and Junebug trail running in Montana.

Meghan Hicks

is's Managing Editor and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.

There are 32 comments

  1. jcazz

    I run with my dogs 50-80 miles a week year round. The set up I use is a Go-Lite waist belt, swivel with a quick release, carabiner, wrap ring, shock/bunge cord, wrap ring and 2 leads. They both wear X-back harnesses and a neck line on occasion. The dogs know the basic commands gee (right), haw (left), hike (mush) etc. The set up is inexpensive and the only thing that I have replaced is 2 shock cords over 4 years. I use a local company for supplies. There is nothing like being pulled up a hill at the end of your run. I have hounds so occasionally I get in some speed work when they pick up on a scent.

    1. jcazz

      Oops not sure how to edit my above post -the biggest problem is unleashed dogs when others aproach. When running where other dogs are present my leashed dogs have been attacked by them, my lines get tangled around my legs and I usually end up on the ground. I can only release one, the other will run off for hours and go hunting. Last time this hapened the owner didn't even apologize she just walked up to me leashed her dogs and walked off…..

  2. Tom

    I have a pair of Vizslas that are not quite a year old. I started taking them on some of my runs this spring. Now they go on all my runs, as they cry and carry on if I leave on a run without them. We started out running four miles at a time, then eight, then ten. Last weekend we went out for sixteen, four or five of which were off leash in a prairie area. They had a blast and sacked out on the couch the rest of the day (just like Dad). Vizslas have amazing endurance and love to run. It's been easy so far as we've been running in mild temperatures. I'll really have to watch them as the temperatures climb and be sure to take water for them on our runs. The three of us are learning what works and what doesn't, but one thing is sure… It truly is a joy to run with man's best friend!


    Ankeny, IA

  3. Ned Barrett

    Love running with my dog, and I write about it often. He is a spectacular endurance athlete, I say. I get grumpy with folks who let thir dogs off-leash and do not/cannot control them. My dog stays at my heels, and has no real interest in other critters.

  4. Andrew

    I also have a Vizsla who is a great running companion. I love running with my dog off leash-when allowed. I get extremely irritated by dog owners who don't follow the trail regulations and allow dogs to run off leash when not permitted.

    I love dogs, but I still find it disconcerting when an unknown dog approaches me and the owner is out of site. I've had unknown dogs attack my leashed dog many times, which is incredibly frustrating. I run with my dog on a waist harness, so I inevitably get caught up in these skirmishes. In one such instance, I was running up a switchback when a dog charged out of the brush from above the trail at my dog and me. My dog jumped back, tripping me and causing me to fall. The charging dog attacked my dog, and my dog tried to run away, which dragged me down the trail a bit, bloodying me considerably. This whole situation could and should have been avoided had the owner simply followed trail rules and had his dog leashed.

    Lastly, many dog owners love to let their dogs run off leash even when it's not allowed because their dog is friendly, they say, and they don't worry about it doing harm to others. I have a friend who has an aggressive dog and they take pains to keep their dog away from other dogs when on a public trail. However, when an unleashed dog keeps running up to their dog to play, they have a difficult time protecting the other dog. Again, if owners followed the rules and kept their dog on a leash, this situation would be avoided.

    Rant over. Dogs are great, just be a responsible owner and follow the rules of the trail you are on.

    1. Adam

      I'm with you! People not following the leash laws are flirting with danger. We have several off leash parks around here, but outside of them, my dog has been mauled and I've been bitten, both by unleashed dogs. The time I got bit the owner didn't say a word to me even when I got in his face. I ended up having to get rabies shots because he wouldn't give me any information.

      I'd love to let my dog off, but it's just too risky for him and others.

  5. jared

    training collars work well too. In my opinion the best of both worlds – dog can go at its own pace and you still have control when other dogs or people show up. Other dogs out of control really bug me so I don't let my guy get close to others unless invited.

    I don't know if the a dog off leash with a training collar is annoying to others – love to hear what folks think .

    1. Meghan

      jared, are you talking about a collar that beeps or shocks to recall a dog? If so, I'd love to hear what people think of being around a dog recalled in this way.

  6. Jenny Handy

    I run with my dog and she loves it other than in hot temps. She is 7 months old and going about 2-3 miles at a time. I'm pretty sure she would go longer but she's still young. She is working up gradually. What annoys me is other dogs running loose. Yes my dog is friendly but she does not tolerate dogs running up to her or me. I would rather people just keep them on a leash.

    1. Meghan

      Jenny, thanks for your thoughts! It sounds like your pup is already learning the joy of trail running. Take heart, many of the friendliest dogs do not react well when they are on a leash and are approached by off-leash dogs. Dog obedience experts say it's well in the range of normal for a dog to react defensively in a situation like this, where the dog has no control over its personal space. Here's to many more years of running with your dogs!

  7. Sarah Lavender Smith

    I love my dog but also hate getting rushed at and tripped by other people's dogs on the trail. Once my husband and I made the mistake of running on an unknown dirt road and must've wandered onto private property because we encountered two very scary off-leash Rottweilers who were extremely threatening. Ever since then, when I run solo, I carry Muzzle brand dog repellent in case I encounter another threatening dog. Fortunately I haven't had to use it, but I like having it handy in my hydration pack's pocket just in case. Here's the link:

    1. Meghan

      Sarah, that sounds like a frightening situation! We used to encounter lots of off-leash and threatening dogs in the Sierra foothills. Bryon carried a small canister of pepper spray with him, too.

  8. Meghan

    jcazz, thanks for your thoughts! When unleashed and leashed dogs meet, my experience is like yours, that the outcome is rarely positive. May you and your dogs have years of happy and safe running!

  9. Meghan

    Well, Ned, that's an awesome devotional to not only Bristol, but the beauty of trail running with a dog. Wow, and thank you for sending us over for a look!

  10. Meghan

    Andrew and Adam, you both have strong feelings about dog owners who do not obey local regulation. Negative incidents that arise from these owners are at the heart of many heated debates over dogs on trails around our country. It sounds like we share the same opinion, that dogs are awesome and so are owners who respect local rules. Enjoy your runs with your respective pooches!

  11. Scott Keeps Running

    One of the greatest joys I have running is to run with my dog.

    I think the most important thing about running with a dog is owner control. I'm an advocate for the vocal leash — train the dog to heel when other trail users are approaching. It's amazing what a little off-leash training can do. Though there are, of course, many instances when a physical leash is necessary (and I at least carry one when encounters with others are likely), I think a leash is overkill IF the dog is trained.

    And I absolutely believe that we are both safer running trails when she's not leashed to me. No tangles, strangles, trips, or flips.

    But I also recognize that the Eastern Washington/North Idaho trails that I run on are pretty lonely (I often see more moose than other people/dogs), and this affords me the luxury of running with her off the leash most of the time. I visit the Salt Lake-area often and it's quite the turn-off to see how dog-restrictive the trails are there. At this point in my life I'd rather have solitude than Solitude. :)

    Some photos of Sadie:

    1. Meghan

      Wow, Sadie is a beauty! She's definitely a herding dog, do you know what kind? Yours and her running relationship reminds me of the one Junebug and I used to have. Lots and lots of miles shared on some lonely trails, probably a dream come true for an endurance dog like yours. Your comment touched on invaluable advice for dog owners who run trails with their pooches: training. Happy running!

    2. RunningWithKona

      You said it Scott! I personally do not feel comfortable at all running with Kona on leash and I do not understand why so many trails have dog restrictions. The trails here are so technical that if I run with her on leash I risk to put us both at risk for injury and accidents.


  12. MikeC

    I love running with my dog Maddie, a Brittany/Border Collie mut. Only one negative incident. We jogged up a local peak after work, I planned to glissade the couloir on the way down, the dog was unprepared for this and went for an uncontrolled slide. No injuries but I was worried! She wouldn't stop licking my face when I got to her!

    Here in Anchorage dogs are excellent bear/moose repellant. A friend's icelantic sheep dog has treed a black bear. Also a very dog friendly town.

    1. Meghan

      MikeC, thanks for your comment. This reminds me of a time I had Junebug out on an steep and technical trail. She endo-ed a time or two, then sat on the ground, seemingly stunned for a minute. She was fine, but it was a bit harrowing! I'm glad Maddie turned up alright as well and thanks for sharing the story!

    2. Scott

      I'd note that the repellant factor may work well for the owner, but can create a risk for other trail users. Also in Anchorage, I've had the rather frightening experience of being charged by a moose with an unleashed dog nipping at its heels on the Coastal Trail. The dog's owner was not at risk, but we were. Met the owner on our return trip, who did not particularly care in the least that her dog created a potentially dangerous situation. God knows we see enough moose on the trail in these parts, and they usually just ignore you. However, an agitated moose can get the heart rate up fast. My totally unsupported opinion is that most agitated moose got in that state as a result of an unleashed dog. Or maybe they are just moody.

  13. jcazz

    That's a fast dog, My Plott ran Sugarloaf Marathon 3:57 in 2009. I even bought a bib for him but they DNF'd him… something about non-humans. I looked everywhere in the rules and nowhere did it say no dogs.

  14. jared

    yeah, I'm talking about the training collars like this:…

    They have a loud beep if the voice calls don't work, and a shock if the voice and the beep don't work. He almost always comes on the voice call, sometimes gets to the beep, but he knows never to find out what is behind door #3 even when other dogs and people are around.

    All that said, I have no idea whether other runners and dog owners are upset with him being off leash regardless.

  15. Gabe

    My dog has done lots of runs and hikes with us, but her longest is a 35 mile run in the Wind River Range with us. We keep her off leash by using a shock collar. Dogs learn quick, and we very rarely have to use it. Our dog even gets excited when we put the collar on her because she knows that she is going somewhere fun.

    We were trying to train her to be off leash, but one time she ran off after a Moose and its calf. She chased them around for awhile until the Moose finally caught her and stomped on her. I'm still not sure how our dog survived. Shock collars don't prevent every problem though, on Monday our dog was bit in the fast by a rattle snake. She is in rough shape, but seems to be recovering OK. Dogs are pretty darn tough!

    1. Tina

      Sounds like your dog has had some scary experiences (you and her, both). I hope she has quick and full recovery from that snake bite.

  16. Brett

    I live in Northern CA and train primarily on the Pony Express/Western States trails. I'm careful to avoid poison oak, but I worry about taking my dog with me and potentially getting the poison oak oils on her fur. Any tips?

      1. Brett

        Thanks Meghan – that's sort of what I thought. I'd love to take Millie (our 1-year old German Shorthair) out on the trail with me, but with all of the poison oak hovering over the single tracks, it's just not worth it. Thanks for your reply! Cheers.

  17. Tina

    I'd love to take my dog out on runs with me, but she's easily spooked. I don't think she would do well on the trail… and, I don't think my training would go very well, lol. However, on my rest days, I'm taking her out for 3 mi brisk walks along the quieter back roads. :)

    Btw., Meagan, Junebug is beautiful!

    1. Meghan

      Tina, owners are the best judge of their dogs. Some are made for trails, some aren't. It's neat that you're finding an activity that your dog seems to enjoy. Thanks for the Junebug compliment, I'll be sure to let her know! ;)

  18. Tamara

    Love the article and the super practical advice. Thanks for sharing your adventures with Junebug and your considerate approach to trails with our furry friends.

  19. dogrunner

    Great article. Full of excellent advice. I run with one of our dogs as often as I can, although if a dog is a good worker it's probably running with my wife's sled team in the fall and winter. I like a skijor/canicross set up for running with my 4-legged furry buddies – keeps them attached to me, just in case, and I can train for increased cadence (keeping my legs under me) :). They LOVE to go, and are great motivation to get out and move, even if the weather isn't ideal. My only problem is that half the year it is too warm for the dogs. So I call summer my off-season training to stay in shape for fall/winter running with a dog!

    1. Meghan

      dogrunner, you mentioned a great benefit to running with a leashed and energetic dog: working to keep up with it! Glad you enjoy running with your dogs. It sounds like they have a very good life with all of those summer and winter activities!

  20. Bob Holzhauer

    Running with a dog is just fun. My current dog is a half Border Collie/half Brittany Spaniel mutt named Grace, who is quick. She's seven, now, and can still crank out five nine-minute miles on a local trail with no problem. I run her with a leash and chest harness. A lesson learned after she deposited me on my butt on an icy trail a few winters ago is to use a longer lead with a bungee-like stretch section in it. Call it the squirrel surge feature if you will – as Grace likes to chase squirrels. It's some kind of obsession. No other animals, just squirrels. I've never had any problem with her feet, but I carry a two bottle butt pack for runs over an hour with one bottle of water for her because she has a double coat. She can drink from a Nathan valve, too. If you think your pooch has run afoul of poison ivy, best advice is shampoo it. That'll take the oil off the pooch's coat and prevent it from spreading through your house or to you. For skunks – try washing yon contaminated pooch with Head and Shoulders as long as you don't get it near the ears or eyes! It's way better than tomato juice for the stink and doesn't give you a pink Samoyed…another story. Worst mistake ever – I let Grace jump into a lake during August that had burrs floating on the surface. Took hours to get them out of her fur!

  21. Meghan

    Bob, all wonderful stories about Grace, thanks for sharing them! Thanks also for the poison ivy clean-up tips. Bummer on the burr story! Junebug has gobs of fur and we've had a few burr run-ins with long clean-up routines, too! Happy running!

  22. MikeC

    I hear what you're saying Scott. I'm always wrestling with leashed or unleashed, there are hazards either way in my opinion. I would never go on the coastal trail(or any paved trail) with my dog, too many people going too fast. We like to run flat top, Near point or in the Ruth Arcand trails.

    Moose are odd creatures, I watched a male viciously beat his antlers against a tree for about 2 hours trying to get a females attention. He did not care that we wanted to get by and he was blocking the trail.

    1. Meghan

      "Moose are odd creatures, I watched a male viciously beat his antlers against a tree for about 2 hours trying to get a females attention."

      So what you're saying is that male moose are not unlike male humans? ;)

  23. MikeC

    Bob, I have a similar mutt. We get her buzzed right about now for the summer. She loves it and her fur is mostly grown in time for winter. Mine is obsessed with birds…

  24. Greg Monette

    Ahem, I am a dog and no I don't like the leash, but I'd like to see one on the old lady across the street though who likes to talk to my owner for an hour about nothing while he's busy working around the house on his only day off! And as for you Andrew and Adam: suck it up buttercup, what's a few rabies shots in your belly compared to having porcupine quills pulled out of your face with a pair of pliers…twice in one week, cry me a river you biped.

  25. Scott

    Of course the other side of the repellant coin is the possibility of an attractant. I haven't seen it personally, but have heard anecdotally stories like the following from a friend in Fiarbanks. He was dog sitting and hiking the Granite Tors trail. The dog was ranging far and wide. Friend heard a rucus and saw dog high tailing it back to what must have seemed to the dog to be the realtive saftey of Freind's legs. Right behind the dog was an angry moose. Friend was reportedly chased round a small tree a couple of times before the moose lost interest. I guess the long and the short is that it is an unpredicatble world.

    I could see the sight of a moose beating his antlers taking up a good two hours…

    1. Meghan

      Scott, I've heard of, but have been thankful to not see, stories like yours of dogs attracting wildlife to humans. That it's an unpredictable world, this is for certain.

  26. Scott Keeps Running

    I ran some trails in BC last summer, and the posted dog regulation was something to the effect of, "Owners are required to have their dog under control at all times, whether by leash or voice command."

    This is such a beautifully simple rule that gets at the heart of the reason why we even have such a thing as a dog leash: owner control.

    I think "Dogs must be on a leash" is a lazy rule that assumes a leash is the only way to control the dog. On a leash or off a leash, the owner should be aware of his or her control over their dog.

    Yes, it sucks when some owners let their aggressive (or extremely friendly) dogs off leash and they ruin other's trail or park experiences. But these things happen not because the dog was off the leash, they happen because the owner didn't have complete control of the dog. A leash is just a tool for control, but not the only one.

    I'd like to see more US cities adapting similar dog laws like the ones I saw in BC. All I care about when seeing strange and potentially dangerous dogs is whether the owner has control over it or not, and if they need a leash to do that, then put the dog on a leash. But if they can control the dog with commands, then don't make a law that requires them to wear a leash.

    Another negative to such black and white leash laws — There are no dog parks where I live, strict leash laws within the city limits, and I have no backyard. So when I'm injured and can't run, I have no way to give her the exercise she needs (frisbee or tennis ball) without illegally letting her off the leash. It's frustrating.

  27. Peter

    I live in Ecuador andmhave a husky. I run with him 4-5 times a week. He is always on leash as the breed has a tendency to run and run and when they stop they go…"oops, where am I?" The main snag here is that dogs are allowed to roam free and we are always "running" into dogs that are off-leash. Most are OK, but occassionally I have to "snarl" at them.

    1. Meghan

      Peter, thanks for the comment. I can imagine the challenges of running with a husky in a land where dogs roam freely. I've had some sometimes interesting, sometimes terrifying encounters with dogs in far-off countries. Once at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, a homeless dog followed us runners for 6 days and 150 miles, literally, running the race every day. The little guy became well-loved by racers and, when the race ended, a couple was trying to figure out how to bring him home to the US. Also, at the same race, the women's winner was bitten by a dog, such that she needed rabies shots and stitches on Day 3 of the 6-day race. She still won the race, though, amazing lady! Good luck and good trail running to you!

      1. Peter


        thanks…I have been fortunate to live, work and travel in different countries and have made friends with many dogs not my own…there was one dog that followed us in Nepal, which we nicknamed YakSlayer. When we lived in Paraguay, where it is ridiculously hot I ran with my husky before the sun came up. I usually spend my summers in Colorado and I always miss having my dog with me.

  28. Holly

    I live in a place that has a ton of trails and most of them are off-leash. I have a border collie – lab cross, and he LOVES being out on the trails with me. But his behaviour is not always excellent… Yesterday I had to leash him in several areas because he wasn't listening and was being a jerk to other dogs. I have considered getting a training collar like the one mentioned above… would be interested to hear about other people's experiences with them!

    1. Meghan

      Holly, I clicked over to your blog to see your dog, what a beautiful fella' he is! I don't have experience with the training collar, but I'd love for other folks to chime in. Good for you for your proactivity regarding your dog's occasional on-trail sassy-ness. Sometimes, even the most well-trained of dogs have their moments, you know? Good luck finding the right solution for you and your guy!

  29. Jonathan

    Just about every run I do is with my dog. Just like with new runners start slow and buld them up to distance also don't start to young and nothing serious till they are a year old. I highly suggest looking into a good canicross belt and harness. I personally like the belt made by Ultra Paws and the ditance harnesses by manmat. Due to issues that arise from wildlife and pets on trails you should always keep your dog on some sort of retraint. Living the SF bay area most trails are closed to dogs, and much of this stems from owners not having dogs on leash and not being able to control said dogs. Our country and state park systems are not dog friendly.

    1. Meghan

      Jonathan, you pointed to one of the greatest dog issues out there, that areas are being closed entirely to dog use because of owners habitually not obeying dog regulations. We all know how much joy our dogs get out of being on trails, and to have that taken away too bad.

  30. Nick

    I've seen a lot of people asking about training collars – I run trails with my two Red & White Irish Setters, and I've been using collars that I ordered on It's not an instant fix – you still have to train them – but it has been good reinforcement. My boys knew the come command, but wouldn't listen if something was more interesting. I tried everything: several types of treats, hot dogs, and even BACON. There were days when I would have to sit and wait 10-20 minutes for them. It's been about 6 months or so with the collars, I rarely have to shock them and they are coming back when called. At first I got some backlash from people who thought it was cruel, but really I would rather have my dogs suffer a slight shock than to chase a deer across the road. Great investment in my opinion.

    1. Meghan

      Thanks for sharing your training collar experiences, Nick! You know you have your training work cut out for you when a dog does not come for bacon. ;) Good luck and happy running!

  31. PaulMR79

    My Brittany is my running partner (Brittanys or Brittany mixes seem to be popular running companions based on this post and I know why!). We run with a leash on roads and well-traveled trails and off leash on lesser traveled trails here in western New York. She is well-trained and runs in a heel on leash. I also use a remote training collar for off leash as others have mentioned. It does still take training and consistency using the collar but she is very well-behaved: will heel off leash on command, and ignores other dogs, horses, and people. She does loves to chase squirrels however – seems to be a common obsession! I rarely use the collar for more than an audible anymore – and even then usually only at the beginning of a run when she is excited and has selective hearing loss!

    I understand others concerns about dogs off-leash having owned an Akita (not good around other dogs) previously. But with an energetic Brittany who really needs to run I have to find some options. So I am overly caustious about where I run off leash with her and keeping track of who is around me. I essentially abide by “Owners are required to have their dog under control at all times, whether by leash or voice command.” Most people we pass on our off leash forays comment verbally on her heeling and behavior.

    1. Meghan

      Paul, thanks being another voice on training collars, and I'm glad you've found a happy medium that works for you and your dog. You're so right about certain dog breeds needing to run. I suspect it's a similar concept to us trail runners' running desire! Enjoy your dog runs!

  32. Shalimar Gravener

    I have a Chihuahua so I can't go on long runs with him, but my family and I do go on trails to take him for walks. They usually end up being about 2-3 miles, but he seems tired enough at the finish. Our favorite memories is when the weather is beautiful and we're just out enjoying the day. The worst memory I have of walking my dog is when loose dogs chased him around. :( Finally, I don't see an issue with dogs on trails, as long as they have a leash on.

    1. Meghan

      Shalimar, thanks for the comments. A 2-3 mile hike for a Chihuahua is probably akin to a 20 miler for a Border Collie. Those little guys have short legs! :) I'm happy to hear you've had some great times out with your dog!

  33. Daniel

    I have a young American Cocker Spaniel of about nine months now. She is so energetic that I'd love to take her running on a trail or something. I guess i have to improve her endurance a little before taking her into the mountains. also she has spells of not listening to my commands, this has to be fixed before i could let her run with me without a lead.

    Does anyone know how far I can take my Cocker running? Do they have some endurace capabilities?


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  34. JakaBonca

    Canicross six days a week all year round 80 100 kilometers per week. Because uou are using a special belt your hands are free.

    The dog is a female german shorthaired pointer.

  35. Troy

    There's nothing worse than people that take their dog to an off-leash running/hiking area and keep their animal on a leash. IT'S AN OFF LEASH AREA!!! Leashed dogs don't react well to off-leash dogs. They feel restrained so they become aggressive. If you want your dog to remain on-leash during a run/walk go to an area where leashes are required for EVERYONE.

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