Looking to add a dose of adorable to your training schedule? Running with your dog could be the answer! Check out these 8 great reasons why running with your favorite furry friend is good for them and you:

Wear them out. If your dog is a zippy ball of energy that loves to destroy items in your house, they may be in dire need of more physical activity. Dogs are animals after all and in many cases have been bred for their ability to run, hunt, herd, and fetch. A good run can effectively wear them out helping them be calmer and more relaxed at home.

Spend more time together. If you work a 9 to 5 and then run in the evenings, your precious pooch is probably missing you big time. Taking them with you on a run (in addition to their regular walks) gives you both more quality time together.

Free stress relief. While routine running naturally triggers neurochemical production that makes you feel more positive and happy (hello, endorphins!), dogs can have the same effect. In fact, studies have shown the pets can aid their owners’ feelings of anxiety, depression, and even lower high blood pressure during periods of mental stress.

Good encouragement. If you’re simply feeling unmotivated to hit the pavement for your daily run, count on your dog to convince you to stick with it. Dogs love to run and they’re smiling, slobbering, and panting faces will be a constant source of encouragement that reignites your love of running.

Helpful protection. A dog can naturally serve as a loyal and protective guard for you, especially if you are running at night or encounter another animal or would-be attacker on your run. While you never want to put your pup in harm’s way, their very presence (and bark) will go far in helping keep you safe.

Weight management. While your weight might be under control with your running routine, for many pets, obesity is an unhealthy reality. Joining you for regular runs can help your dog meet the minimum exercise goals they need to avoid becoming overweight.

A fun way to meet other people. Want to meet someone you know off the bat shares some of your interests? Walking and running with your dog is a great way to run into other dog walkers and runners and strike up a conversation.

Dogs don’t do math. If you are getting caught up in the numbers game that so often accompanies training for big races (i.e. counting carb and protein intake, tracking PR’s and mile splits, etc.), a dog could be your solution to simply letting it go for a while and rediscovering the reason you started running in the first place – it’s fun, freeing, and keeps you healthy.

Tips for Running with Your Dog

Start slow – when it comes to launching a new running habit with your dog, the American Kennel Club recommends starting slow. Just like overdoing it can land you in an ankle, back, or knee brace, so can tackling too much too soon hurt your dog. Similar to humans, dogs can sprain and tear critical ligaments that end up requiring months of treatment and rehab.

Check-up – getting a formal check-off from your dog’s veterinarian before you go running together is a good idea. They can make sure that your dog’s bones and joints are all ship-shape for this type of high impact activity and let you know if there are any special concerns you should keep in mind.

Paw care – dogs need to build up calluses on their feet so gradually increase the distance they run with you over time. Avoid super hot pavement in the summer as it can scald their bare paws and instead opt for grassy or trail runs. Always inspect your dog after a run too for things like burs and glass in their paws and ticks in their fur.

Training – train your dog to run with you first by using a harness and leash. This allows you more control and prevents strangling that can happen with a tight tug of a collar. Bring treats with you to reward your dog for good behavior like observing your pace, heeling, and listening to commands. You might also want to let them do a good amount of sniffing prior to the run so they learn to sniff less and less during your run, allowing you both to maintain a steady pace.

Know your breed – knowing the breed of your dog will help you understand their natural abilities to cool their bodies down and maintain adequate breathing during high spurts of activity. The last thing you want is for running to hurt your tail-wagging sidekick. Know before you go!