I have yet to meet a dog who doesn’t love to run. Teaching your dog to be your jogging partner is a great way to keep both of you in top shape. With the proper leash and harness, you will be on your way in no time. I’ve already covered the tips for running with your dog here in this article. But can’t I just lace up my sneakers with Fido and his regular collar? I’m so glad you asked. Here’s why you need a dog harness for running.
Advantages of using a harness for running
Access to more trails
Off-leash is definitely the more fun way to go. I don’t know a dog who would disagree with that statement. But, there aren’t usually too many off-leash route options. Most parks require your dog to be on a leash while exploring the main trails. They may only have smaller areas that allow for off-leash dogs. I once visited a park where coyotes are known to approach dogs and no dogs were allowed at all. Off-leash dogs may be restricted to certain areas for safety reasons or depending on the time of year. This may be related to the type of wildlife in your location. These rules are intended to keep dogs safe. You should never have your dog off-leash where it is not permitted.
Running off-leash is also a skill that your dog will need to work up to. Even if your dog has excellent recall, they will need to keep pace with you and avoid distractions. Going for a run is hard work. If you want to encourage your dog to run off-leash, allow them a bit of off-leash time where it is permitted. This will give you a sense of how they run beside you, and if it is an appropriate training goal. They will need to feel like an active participant to stay engaged, so don’t set a pace that is too ambitious. Make sure you always celebrate your dog’s success. You can work up to longer distances over time, but for the majority of your runs, you will want them to be on a leash.
A simple collar might be fine for your day to day strolls around the block. If you are going for a jog, you will want a little more control. Moving your dog out of the way of hazards, or distractions will be easier and safer with a harness. Since you are reducing the strain on the dog’s neck, the pressure is distributed evenly across your dog’s body. For any sudden moves, they will be able to react better.
A harness may make your dog feel more relaxed, which helps to reduce pulling. If you are going to go running with your dog, you will need to make sure they are not pulling on the leash. If pulling is a major problem, your dog might not be ready for runs yet. You can work on reducing pulling by walking with a harness more frequently. Add short runs into your routine, building towards the long run as you observe less pulling.
In my experience, my dog is a changed man when he is on his harness. While a bit of a puller with a collar, he relaxes as soon as his harness is on. My theory is it’s like a hug or a massage. Just like us, dogs appreciate a bit of deep pressure on the shoulders, and it’s all a very calming sensation.
A head halter (gentle leader or Halti are popular brands) may also be a good option to reduce pulling. Dog’s don’t always love them, but they can get used to them with time, encouragement, and of course lots of treats. For a very strong puller, this might be a good place to start.
No choking effect
Your dog’s regular collar will apply pressure to their neck. If you are running ahead or behind your dog, even for a few moments, this is not ideal. This choking effect can be dangerous, and stressful for your dog.
Choke chain or prong collars are not okay for running (or ever, in my opinion, they are actually illegal in my city). All they teach dogs is fear. Fear-based training is a thing of the past, and it has no place in being active with your dog. If you cannot control your dog or have the confidence he or she will listen to, you both have some work to do. If that is the case, you are not ready to be active in nature with your dog.
This harness is sturdy and the top handle makes it easy to lift your dog over obstacles if needed. It has a great reputation and is actually used by avalanche rescue dog programs. This harness is built tough to last, even in extreme weather conditions. The highlight is that the padded straps have five adjustment points. This ensures a correct fit, and it is comfortable for your dog to wear. Check price here.
- Padded and comfortable for your dog to wear
- Reflective trim
- Top handle for additional control
- Easy to attach a light
- Available in five sizes (measure your dog first)
- Available in three colors
- High quality
- Reputable brand name
- Leash connection points at the back only
- May be a bit heavy for very small dogs
This harness is very simple to get on and off. It only has one clip, so it’s very straightforward. The neoprene chest strap is soft and comfy for your dog. It’s pretty cute too. The colors are bright and happy. This harness does not have any straps under the legs. So, it may be good for dogs who are a bit fussy or not used to wearing a harness. Check price here.
- Soft material
- Reflective 3M materials
- This harness does not stretch
- One buckle makes it easy to take on and off
- Available in eight colors
- Available in six sizes
- Tested extensively when manufactured
- Top handle for extra control
- Neck strap is not adjustable
- Dogs who escape may be able to remove this
This harness is designed for dogs who pull. It can attach to the leash at the front to reduce pulling or to the back to let your dog explore a bit. Although your dog should not pull you if they are ready for running, this harness can help you work up to it. It is made of a soft elastic material, so it does have a little stretch. This harness clips around your dog’s neck and chest. So, it is a good choice for dogs who are uncomfortable in a step-in type harness. Check price here.
- Reflective material
- Soft and stretchy
- Can reduce pulling
- Top handle
- Neck clip locks into place
- Available in many colors
- Available in five sizes (be sure to measure first)
- Adjustable straps
- Two leash attachment hooks
- Mesh pocket
- May need some trial and error to adjust to your dog’s size
- May not fit very large dogs
This is another no-pull style harness. The look and feel of this one is my favorite of all the harnesses listed here. The bright colors make it visible, a must for outdoor adventure. The id tag pocket means your dog won’t need to wear both a collar and harness at the same time. It also boasts anti-chafing material, so it’s perfect for taking Fido on a run. Check price here.
- Breathable nylon
- Anti-chafing construction with padding
- Bright colors
- Id tag pocket
- Four adjustment points for accurate fit
- Available in four sizes
- Two leash connection points (front and back)
- The pressure is evenly distributed over the body
- Top lift handle
- Reflective trim
- Sturdy metal clips
- Handle may be a bit small to grab
- May not fit overweight dogs
- May twist if dog pulls a lot
This is a head collar, and although most dogs don’t love wearing these, they can get used to them. This is good for running with your dog since it ensures there will be no pulling. It can be a bit strange to think about leading your dog by the head. Doing so completely eliminates pressure on the dog’s throat. It applies pressure to calming points so that your dog is less nervous while walking or jogging. Your dog will still be able to open their mouth while wearing this. Check price here.
- Available in a range of colors
- Removes pressure from the dog’s throat and chest
- Applies pressure to calming points
- Reduces pulling and desire to escape
- A very reputable brand, with over 30 years in production
- Created by a veterinary behaviorist
- Adjustable nose loop and strap
- May take some time for your dog to get adjusted to this halter
- Can take some trial and error to get the fit right
- May have extra fabric if you tighten quite a bit that needs to be tied or cut to a shorter length
The RUFFWEAR – Web Master, Multi-Use Support Dog Harness is my favorite of all the options on this list. For me, it is the best harness for running because of the rugged construction and it is made to last. My dog is used to running with a leash attached at the back, so pulling is not something we worry about when going for a run. If your dog pulls, some of the other harnesses here may be a better fit for you. I especially like that this harness is professional quality and is used on working dogs. The high quality and soft construction make it a winner in my books.
Hi, I’m Natalie! I’m a dog owner and I do my best to live an active lifestyle. About 4 years ago I adopted my dog Thor. Since then, he has learned to jog, camp, and even canoe. I’m here to help you to make your pupper a part of your active lifestyle too!