9 Races to Run With Your Dog

A man runs with his dog on a leash

There are plenty of reasons why you should run with your dog. Humans need exercise and their furry companions do, too. Plus, the adventures you have together are the perfect way to strengthen your bond.

So, if you’re ready to move beyond a run your typical neighborhood route, here are some of the most fun races to run with your dog.

Paws Fur Pink; Orange County, California

February 2020

This event and festival is held in support of programs fighting breast and canine cancers. Choose from the HeartyHound 5k, Dawdling Doodle 1 mile walk, or yoga with your dog. Maybe all three! This event celebrates the love of four-legged family members and the healing that their companionship brings.

Ultrarunner Jaime Reyes runs with his dog Rambo at Fleet Feet Burbank

NE LF Scottish Games Chariots of Fur Beach Run; Jacksonville, Florida

2020 date TBD

Choose from a 5K or 1-mile fun run along the sands of Jacksonville Beach with your fur child. The event and festival benefits Jacksonville animal rescues. Take home a bandana for your dog to commemorate the occasion and strive for a coveted Chariots of Fur dog bowl, awarded to category champions.

Ultimutt Race; Greer, South Carolina

2020 date TBD

More than just a running event, Ultimutt is an opportunity to conquer an obstacle course together with your dog. Jump over haystacks, crawl through a mud pit, and choose from distances of 2.5k or 5K. The event is run in waves to prevent overcrowding and is divided between large and small dogs, as well as a competitive division and fun run. A portion of race proceeds go to the area animal shelter.

Strutt Your Mutt 5K; Hendersonville, North Carolina

July 27, 2019

This 5K race is held on the Oklawaha Greenway Trail and finishes at the Historic Depot in DownTown Hendersonville, North Carolina. The 5K race kicks off Tails in Town, a full day out for dogs and their owners complete with a vendor fair, adoptable animals, education opportunities, food and drinks.

Bark in the Park 5K Woof Walk/Run; Louisville, Kentucky

September 28, 2019

Hosted by The Animal Care Society, this event is hosted in one of Metro Louisville’s most popular green spaces, Seneca Park. Participants can run or walk the 5K course and spend the rest of the day with their furry friends at the kiddie pools, food vendors or at a long list of contests. Enter your pet’s photo in the Dog of the Year contest, Halloween Contest, Pet/Owner lookalike contest, or Kissing Contest.

A photo of a dog playing on a sidewalk

Pawsitively Spooky 5K; Knoxville, Tennessee

October 2, 2019

Everyone knows the best way to celebrate Halloween is by dressing up in a costume with your dog. Now you can make it even more fun by running a 5K or one-mile fun run with your best friend. Enter a costume contest and participate in other dog-friendly events. Proceeds benefit The Arc, a nonprofit aiding people with intellectual disabilities in Knox County.

Green Mountain Iron Dog Competition; Lake Champlain, Vermont

October 5, 2019

If your dog is the next Rin Tin Tin, this race is for you. The Vermont Police Canine Association’s annual Green Mountain Iron Dog was initially designed to simulate real-world Police K9 deployments. Now in its 20th year, this event has become a 1.5-mile course where dog and handler run through a variety of obstacles over various terrain with the option to register in the open or pro category. All abilities and dog breeds are welcome, and competitors are a mix of military, police and civilians.

Tips for racing with your dog:

  • Make sure your dog is in good health before entering a race or event. Consult a veterinarian for regular check-ups and with any concerns.
  • Just like you would train for a race before signing up, build your dog’s endurance gradually to get her in shape for the event.
  • Socialize your dog and make sure she is comfortable with other dogs and humans before bringing her to an event.
  • Harnesses are safer and more comfortable for dogs to run with, as opposed to collars, as they don’t put pressure on the dog’s airway
  • Focus on fun and don’t push your dog to be any more competitive than she is willing to be.

By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine.

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