If you’re an avid runner who’s also a dog owner, you’ve probably, at the very least, thought about taking your furry friend on a run with you. After all, you’re both fit, enthusiastic, and love to be outside. Layer on the health benefits running can offer you and your pup, and why wouldn't you want to bring Fido or Fluffy along for a jog?
If you do plan to run with your dog, you’ll most definitely need a leash—but not just any leash. There are certain leashes on the market that are specifically designed for running that are typically safer and more enjoyable for both of you, explains Melia Garza, RRCA-certified running coach and owner of Journey to Run LLC. “Instead of being held in your hand, running leashes are typically worn around your waist, which allows your hands to be free for better balance, [allowing] you to swing your arms more naturally without pulling on your dog,” she explains. “When your arms can move naturally, your gait will be more natural and better aligned which can help prevent injury.”
Additionally, Garza points out that shifting the leash from your hand to your midsection provides a sturdier connection near your center of gravity. “Many running leashes also include one or more stretchable bungee sections that are designed to absorb shock and further reduce pulling on you and your dog from the motion of running,” she says. “The bungee also reduces the risk of injury if you or your dog decide to suddenly stop.”
What to Look For in a Running Leash
Want to leash up? Consider the following before you buy:
Garza recommends looking for a running leash that’s made from a sturdy material like nylon with reinforced stitching for extra durability. “If you are going to be running early or late in the day, you may also want a leash made with reflective fabric or stitching to help with visibility,” she adds.
The length of a running leash is also important—and to determine which length is right for you, it’s a good idea to consider the size of your dog. “Generally, the taller the dog, the shorter the leash can be since there is less distance between your waist and the dog's harness,” Garza says. "If the leash is too long, it may pose a tripping hazard; if it's too short, there may be too much tension and you may find yourself tripping over your dog because they are a bit too close.”
Another factor to consider is where you will be running. “If you plan to run your dog in an urban environment, a shorter leash will allow you to have better control of your dog on shared streets and sidewalks, but if you are running in a more rural setting, a longer leash may be okay,” Garza says. “Keep in mind, however, that the longer the leash, the more difficult it may be to gain control of your dog quickly.”
A hands-free leash gives you the ability to focus on your surroundings and to control your pup with more than just your arms, notes Cortney Logan, running coach and founder of Run Sweat Sip. “The bungee acts as a shock absorber and gives you protection from any sudden pulling moves that your dog makes,” she says. “Hands-free also reduces the amount of tugging both you and your dog would otherwise experience on a standard leash.”
Below, check out our favorite leashes for when you and your pooch are ready to hit the pavement.
6 Best Running Leashes For Dogs
If you’re looking for a durable leash that will last you through the years, this is a great pick. “Ruffwear is known for its quality, and though it doesn’t have a carabiner style clasp, the Swiveling Talon Clip™ is an excellent substitute and can be easily operated while wearing gloves,” says Audrey Fellows, certified professional dog trainer at Doggo. “The leash is so sleek that you could easily miss the handy traffic control handle by the clasp to keep your dog close when crossing others on the trail.”
You can purchase this leash, which is ideal for medium or large dogs, with a standard belt or a premium belt with a built-in, padded, and zippered pouch. “The pouch is convenient for your phone, keys, gels for you, and treats for your dog,” says Garza. “The leash can quickly transform into a standard hand-held leash with a rubber grip handle and the length will work well for most dogs.”
Looking for a multi-tasking leash? This one is basically the Jack of all trades, according to Garza. “In addition to being built with strong materials and reflective stitching options, this leash can be used in six different configurations—wear it around your waist as a traditional hands-free running leash, cross-body style for hiking, or use it as a standard hand-held leash for one or two dogs,” she says. “The length is also quickly adjustable, including to a 3-foot training leash, but it does not have a bungee section to help absorb shock while running.” She recommends this leash for dogs that are already comfortable running and staying close to their owner’s side.
This is a well-constructed, hands-free leash that won’t break the bank—and it also covers the basic needs for most dogs and runners. Not only is it relatively lightweight, but it’s also shock-absorbing, which makes it easier for you to take strides. “It is made with a high-quality material in bright colors with reflective stitching and comes with easy-to-locate and grab padded handles for additional safety,” says Garza. “This is a particularly great choice if you aren’t concerned about added carrying capacity or plan to use your own tried and true favorites.”
If you’re hoping to not spend too much on a dog leash for running, this one should be within your budget all while checking all the necessary boxes. “Though it’s bulkier than others, it can withstand pulling from a 200-pound dog, so it would work great for giant breeds,” says Fellows. “This leash also includes a seatbelt clip to keep your dog secure while driving to the trails.”
Amie Dworecki, B.S., M.A., MBA, running coach and dog owner, is a personal fan of The Furry Buddy dog leash system, mainly because it has accessory pockets, plus the ability to use it with multiple dogs. “The bungee leash has reflective stitching, the pouches are waterproof, and the belt is neoprene with reflective stripes,” she says. “You can also use this system with larger dogs, and it comes with a 3-year guarantee.”
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