When can a puppy go running? 6 months? 12 months? 18 months?
It depends on the puppy, but generally puppies should be able to start running once they are between 8 and 12 months old.
For larger and giant breeds, you may want to wait until they are 18 months, which is the age thrown around the most online.
And some breeds aren’t really built for much running ever. I mean, come on.
The reason to be somewhat cautious about running with a puppy, especially larger breeds, is because their bones are still developing and you don’t want to damage their joints.
Dog owners should do their own research and make their own decisions about running with their own dogs or puppies. What’s best for one is not best for all.
Personally, I’m more concerned for the under-exercised, overweight dogs. Many of those dogs have joint issues and they’re not even getting out for walks. So, go figure.
Dogs that get to do any running at all are the lucky ones, in my opinion.
What do you think? When can a puppy go running?
For those of you who run with their dogs, I am interested in your thoughts:
- How old was your dog when you started running together?
- What breed do you have?
- Do you think you made the right choice?
- How far do you normally run together?
- At what age would you start running with a puppy if you were to get a new pup today?
My running experience – when to start running with a puppy
I own a dog running business where I take dogs on 30- or 60-minute running sessions. I stopped keeping track of my running miles with dogs at my side once I passed 10,000 miles a few years ago.
I used to run with my Lab mix Ace when he was younger, but he is now retired from running. He just turned 9 years old, and I started running with him right away when I adopted him at 12 months.
A veterinarian’s opinion – at what age can a puppy go running?
I like the rule of thumb given below by Dr. Thomas Watson, a veterinarian in Charlotte, N.C.
I interviewed him for my post on running long distance with a dog.
Once a dog is around 6 months old, his musculoskeletal system has grown to about 75 to 80 percent of his adult size, Watson said.
Based on this, he gave some general recommendations on when he’s comfortable taking a dog running. These are based on the dog’s estimated size at maturity.
Dogs under 60 pounds: Start running when the pup is 6 to 8 months old.
Dogs between 60 and 100 pounds: Start when the pup is 8 to 12 months old.
Dogs more than 100 pounds: Wait until the pup is 12 to 18 months old.
This is just a rule of thumb from one veterinarian who runs with his dogs, but I like his advice.
I would also add that a lot of the dogs over 100 pounds (not all) should generally run for shorter distances, even as adults. Maybe just 1 to 3 miles, if that.
Speed is a factor – Is the dog even running?
On a typical running session, I cover up to about 5 miles with each dog. We go at such a slow pace, so the dog is actually “trotting” at my side vs. actually running. It’s a fast walk for the dog, a slow run for me.
This is much different than, say, someone who runs at a 6-minute-per-mile pace or someone who wants to take a dog biking or rollerblading.
These are all great options, but you just need to take the intensity of the workout into consideration.
Starting out at a 10-minute-per-mile pace with a puppy might be ideal. A slow “run” is probably not going to damage a pup’s joints.
Then, if it seems right for your dog, you could eventually pick up the pace or add Rollerblading once the pup has matured. No need for that level of intensity right away.
The puppy’s paw pads could get sore while running
The most common injury I see while running with dogs, especially young dogs, is scuffed paw pads.
It takes time for a dog to build up strong, calloused paws. If she’s not used to running or walking on pavement and concrete, she might skin up her feet a bit.
To prevent this, slowly begin taking your puppy on walks and runs and stop to check her paws every 10 minutes or so until you know her feet have “toughened up.”
If her paws are bleeding a little, it’s likely no big deal. Just give her a day or two to rest and they will probably heal up on their own.
Now I want to hear from the rest of you.
When do you think it’s OK to start running with a puppy?