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Can I run with my senior dog?

My dog turns 8 in two weeks.

He loves to run, but at what point does he need to “retire”?

When I adopted my dog in 2007, I had marathon fever.

I was training to run in the Fargo Marathon that spring, and on my “long” runs of 10 miles or so I would fantasize about which dog I would adopt. I had my eyes on several.

Thinking about dogs took my mind off running, and I knew I wanted to adopt a running buddy.

Ace was my man. He was a 1-year-old Lab mix. Lean and fit and full of pent-up energy.

I adopted him that March, and every morning my dog and I ran together for about an hour. It really helped us form our bond and eventually we were going on runs of 8, 10 and 15 miles. He joined the marathon training group I belonged to and he even tagged along on my first 20-miler.

We were both young.

Woman and black lab mix running

Ace is the type of dog who’s happy to run in the morning and then sleep the entire day. This was ideal when I worked 10-hour shifts at the local newspaper. He’s always been the perfect dog for me. Super lazy, yet also up for running.

Fast forward seven years and Ace and I still run together, but not as far and not as fast. My dog has gotten older, yet I still feel so young.

He only needs a 20-minute walk each day to be content, and he’s tired if we run even three miles.

Sometimes his right knee gets a little stiff, and sometimes his right shoulder also gets sore. I give him lots of massages.

My dog loves to run, but at what point does he need to “retire”?

I don’t know.

This is a tough, emotional issue for me. Running is very much something that defines Ace and I. It sounds dumb, but it’s our thing. Heck, I started a dog running business because of my dog.

If I can’t run with my best friend, I’d rather not run at all.

We could stick to walking, which we also love.

I’ve talked to Ace’s vet about it, and she said to stick to walking if I’m not sure. Especially if he seems stiff after a run, which he sometimes does.

I know I’m not the only runner with a senior dog, so I thought I’d turn the question to you:

Do you run with your senior dog?


Thursday 22nd of July 2021

I have a mixed dog (pit-bull/boxer). She is almost 13 years now. I got her when she was a puppy, and she has been running with me since the age of 2. We used to run 5-7 miles until she reaches 10yrs. She is still in good shape, but I keep her pace while running. I can definitely see that she cannot run as fast as before when she reaches 11-12yrs. Our routine is 2.2 mi (about < 25 min running). I hope this can be helped.

A Hamilton

Sunday 10th of May 2020

I am the dog mom of a 12y/o Labrador / American bulldog mix. We've always been short summer runners. Longest the both of us have ever enjoyed is up to 3-4mi. This is our 12th summer- he will be 13 in November. Cache (my senior love muffin) can still do a solid .5mi-.75mi and a super slow trot to a full mile. Our routine is a 3mi loop almost daily. We run most of the first mile and walk the rest (there is a little lake swim treat in the middle of our loop also). Like I said- he's an old man, but he has been doing extraordinarily well! He has had arthritis in his hips for a bit over 3yrs now- but between raw food, bone marrow bones and adequan injections month to month he's doing a million!! I think we will begin transitioning to just long walks, swimming and mountain hikes next summer if he appears to slow down anymore. However, I attribute his amazing health and energy levels to a clean diet, lots of love and never giving him medicine except for heartworms and vaccines. Over the years there have been some supplements for kidneys and thyroid and now cataracts - but Standard Process chemical drugs.

Best of luck to all of you senior dog lovers! Most of yours are still quite young! (7,8,9) Enjoy them- and all of the fresh air and sunshine you can get!


Wednesday 11th of February 2015

Ugh, I'm retiring my running partner Pillion, a labrador mix next month. We've been running together for eight years. I even register her in all our races so she can run with her own BIB and ger her own medal. She is in excellent health (she is nine and a half now), but don't want to hurt her, so next month is our last race (a 10k). Because she is retiring, I'm also retiring because without her I will be lost (we will continue to jog a couple of miles every day and take long walks and hike, but our life in the fast lane is done). Last November we ran our last Half Marathon and last month we ran the 5k and 10k during Disney World Marathon weekend and I cried like crazy when we crossed the finish line!

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 11th of February 2015

Wow, that's wonderful she has gotten to participate in so many races with you! I no longer run with my dog who is 9. We still enjoy our walks and hikes, but I do miss having my running buddy at my side.

Jen @ Dog Adventures

Wednesday 19th of February 2014

A thought provoking post, Kate is still young so always up for a long run! But definitely something to think about as the years pass. I will run with her as long as she wants to and is capable, even if it means bringing down the distance if it's in her best interest!

Hawk aka BrownDog

Friday 14th of February 2014

Hi Y'all!

I'll be 8 in March and my Human is ancient. We used to run in the mountains and here at the shore. I suffered an injury recently and so now that we're back at the shore my Human is planning on running on the turf grass. We never run on pavement. It is too hard on both of us and causes too many injuries. We like to run trails. For now we're going to re-start slowly and mix running and walking. I'm full of silly energy. If one of us is hurting however, it is good to insist they rest, them come back easy when no more soreness is shown.

Important to remember though that it is in our canine nature not to show pain or injury. When we do show you we're hurting, the hurting is really bad. My Human says she goes by my eyes and facial expression.

Y'all come by now, Hawk aka BrownDog

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 14th of February 2014

Yes, such a good point! Poor Ace probably hides it when he's in pain.