How to Train My German Shepherd to Run with Me

Categorized as Training and Behavior
the complete guide to running with german shepherds

If you love running and are a German Shepherd owner, you’re lucky because you have the best mate heaven can ever give providing you train them right.

In fact, according to the Runner Worlds, German Shepherds are one of the best dog breeds for running. There are plenty of benefits that you can get from running with your German Shepherd, here’re some.

The Benefits of Running with Your Dog

1. Running with Your Four-Legged Buddy Helps You Meet New People. If you are single and hoping to mingle, running with your pooch will help you find that special one as there is a lot of ladies out there who share the same common interest.

2. It Keeps Your Buddy Healthy. German Shepherd needs to exercise regularly to stay healthy, and what’s the better way to burn that excess energy off than running. Some of the health benefits that your pooch can get include a longer life span, helping your dog stay in shape, improved hip joints, a stronger heart, and lungs.

3. Running with Your Four-Legged Buddy Keeps Your Dog Tired in “a Good Way.” German Shepherd is a dog that needs to stay active to feel happy and content. I don’t know where this thing comes from, probably back then when their ancestors were doing a border patrol job Nonetheless, running is one of the best ways to keeps your dog stimulated and exposed to many things around them: new sights, sounds, and smells.

4. It Helps to Keep You Stay Motivated. Your dog can become the toughest running partner that you’ve ever had. Your dog won’t take no for an answer no matter how long your day seemed. They’ll keep harassing you until you run with them.

5. Running Helps You Bond with Your Buddy. By the time you go home after long hours running session, you will realize how much you love your furry friend.

Start Out Slow

Even though German Shepherd is suited to running, you should remember not to start them too young to avoid damaging your puppy’s joints and bones as they are still growing and haven’t fully formed yet.

Start slowly by teaching your dog to walk nicely on and off the leash during puppyhood. Take them on a slow jog around your neighborhood but don’t take them on running yet.

Wait ’til one and a half years before taking them on a short distance running, progressing slowly and gradually until your dog has enough strength and endurance to embark on long-distance running.

Consult With Your Vet

Even if you believe your dog is fit enough to run with you, there is nothing wrong in giving your vet a heads up to double-check.

In addition to checking for any red flags, your vet will also give you solid advice on the best running exercise and individualized dietary program for your dog.

What Running Gears You Should Use?

1.Harness or Leash

Harness or leash is must-have gear for running with your GSD. They are a handy tool that will keep your dog from darting off chasing squirrels or birds.

If your dog had been learned to walk nicely on the leash, you would want to use a hands-free leash.

A hands-free leash is a dog leash that clips around your waist and connected to your dog’s collar so you can run hands-free but if your dog is still trained, it’s better to use a dog harness.

2. Running Belt

There are many good running belts on the market, regardless of which one you’re going to buy, you do need one as it will become useful to hold whatever essentials that you both needs. Two of the essentials that you should include in your running belts are:

  • Poop Bags. Being a responsible dog owner, you should bring your own poop bags whenever you head out for a run.
  • Water Bottle. Dogs get dehydrated more easily than humans. Since dogs can’t actually tell you when they’re thirsty, it’s a safe bet to bring a water bottle with you and stop every 10 minutes for water breaks while running.

3. Trekz Aftershokz Headphone

Even though you don’t need this Trekz Aftershokz Headphone when you’re just getting started, but one day as you gain more “distance” under your belt, you will need one.

What this headphone does is that it allows you to hear the jingle sound of your dog’s collar clearly when they get off the track while you’re running with them in the noisy city streets.

How to Train Your Dog to Run

Before start running with you, it’s essential that your dog learns some basic obedience commands such as sit and stay, down, come, off, don’t touch, and heel.

Then train your dog walk on the loose leash. Here’s a great video that will show you how.

Once your German Shepherd has mastered the leash-loose walking, they are ready for their first run.

1.The First Run

For your dog’s first run you’ll want to decide which sides you want them to run, either left or right side, and stick with it.

Once you have chosen aside, you’ll want to train them to run with their front feet even with yours. This is when we will use the basic obedience commands that your dog has learned previously.

If your dog has learned the “heel” command, it should be easy to train them to run directly next to you.

Begin by telling your dog to sit to make them pay attention to you then ask them to stand up and heel. Start walking at a power walking pace and see their reaction.

If they’re walking evenly next to you, reward them with their favorite treats periodically. Always give your dog treats on the side that you are currently training them. If you teach them to walk next to your left side, only give treats at your left leg and vice versa.

If they start to lunge forward, tell them to stop and stay.

Repeat this exercise several times, until your dog understands that they need to walk directly beside you, not behind or in front of you.

From their first run, you need to impose on your dog clearly that you do not tolerate them walking in front of you because it can be dangerous for both of you.

Later on when you both run at full speed, if your dog runs in front of you, you could get tripped or tangled in the leash.

After your dog has mastered “heel” on one side, you can then continue training the other side.

Also read: How to Train Your German Shepherd to Walk on a Leash

2. Pick Up the Pace

Once your GSD has learned to walk nicely at your side, it’s time to pick up the pace. You can increase your speed from walking pace to jogging pace. Your dog will instinctively follow your pace.

Don’t go full speed yet, let your dog progress at a safe and healthy pace to avoid the risk of injury.

After a week of moderately paced jogging, you can intersperse the walking/jogging with short intervals of running.

3. Teach Your Dog Some Cues

As your dog is building up distance and speed, it’s time to teach them some verbal cues. Teach them cues such as “walk”, “jog”, “run”, and “stop”. These cues can be used to tell your dog to speed up when you want to make a change in pace.

By giving verbal cues before making a speed change, your dog will be well-prepared so that they won’t strain at the leash or lag behind.

4. Build Up Endurance and Strength

Just as humans, your GSD also needs to build up strength and endurance slowly. There are many good running programs for dogs on the internet, here’s my favorite one:

5. Watch Out for Sign to Stop

During and after the run, you should be aware of signs of heatstroke or overexertion. Panting is the most definite sign that your dog has overdone it and needs to take a break. Other symptoms to watch include lethargy, drooling, weakness, dark red gums, and vomiting.

Any time your dog shows signs that he’s had enough, you want to take a break and give them fresh water. Be careful not to let your dog gulp too much water during or after running as they can swallow a lot of water and develop bloat.

After taking a break, wait and see for several minutes. If your dog’s breathing doesn’t go back to normal, it’s the time to end the run.

Other Useful Tips to Remember

  • Because German Shepherds are a breed that is prone to hip dysplasia, you may want to add hip and joint supplements to your dog’s diet plan.
  • Always start every running with a proper warm-up and finish every session with a proper cool-down. Simple heating can be a few minutes of walking or jogging.
  • Give your dog time to potty before and after the run. And don’t forget to bring waste bags with you in case you need it somewhere along the road.
  • Make sure you plan your route before running with your German Shepherd. When you’re starting out, you’ll want to run in a safe area that your dog is familiar with.
  • Don’t run when it’s too hot. Because of their coats and the fact that they can only sweat through their mouths by painting, your GSD won’t be able to handle too much heat and humidity.
  • Always carry water with you whenever you head for a run with your dog.
  • Check your dog for ticks that may have hitchhiked to your home.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.