Are you hoping to go running with your Labrador? We take a look at whether Labs are good running companions, and give you all the information you will need to get started.
We will also be answering some of your most popular Labrador running questions.
Such as how fast can a Labrador run, and how far can you take them.
We also give you some important information regarding getting your Labrador up to running fitness, and when is the right time to begin.
Are Labradors Good Running Companions?
Fit, healthy, adult Labradors can make fantastic running companions. In fact, any healthy dog can enjoy accompanying you outdoors as you jog or run.
Labradors make especially good running companions because they enjoy exercise, and they love being together.
When I was a teenager my Labrador would accompany me on runs through the woods on an almost daily basis. He stayed by my side, kept pace with me and we both loved every minute of it.
Labradors, as a breed, are fit and athletic dogs.
Like all gundog breeds, Labradors are 'designed' to work all day in the shooting field.
The only factor dictating how far your Lab can run is how fit they are. Just like you, your Labrador will have to learn to increase his stamina gradually.
They are strongly constructed, muscular animals with good powers of endurance and considerable agility.
Labradors also have a surprising turn of speed.
How Fast Can A Labrador Run?
Although we have plenty of data on greyhounds, there don't seem to be any good studies recording how fast other breeds of dog can run. But it is thought that many fit breeds may reach speeds of up to 40mph over short distances.
So it is likely that a fit young Labrador can outrun most humans and could sprint at over 35 miles per hour for short bursts.
However, the Labrador's real talent as a running partner lies in his stamina and endurance. He is more of a 'distance' runner, than a sprinter at heart.
How Far Can A Labrador Run?
How far your dog can run will depend on several factors
- His fitness
- The weather
- His health and age
Like any athlete, distances need to be built up gradually. You need to get your dog fit in stages, just as you do yourself.
You also need to consider the weather, particularly the temperature.
A healthy young Lab should be more than able to keep up with the average human jogging a couple of miles before breakfast, under mild weather conditions.
If you are a serious long distance runner, then you will need to chat to your vet about the effects on your dog, and whether he is up to it.
Distances over four of five miles can put a lot of strain on a dog, no matter how much he may want to be with you.
Running on hard surfaces for example, for long periods of time, may cause problems with joints and feet.
Serious competitive running is a very different matter. Let's look at fitness first
Getting Your Dog Fit For Running
Before you begin, get your dog checked over by the vet. You want to make sure he is in good health before you start putting demands on his body.
Running Is For Slim Dogs
Although Labradors are athletic dogs, they are at a disadvantage to smaller dogs when it comes to running, purely because of the weight they are carrying. So it is vital that you don't run with your dog if he is overweight.
Cut down the food and the pounds first, don't use running as a weight loss device, it puts too much stress on a heavy dog's joints.
Build Up Labrador Running Distance Gradually
You wouldn't go out for a five mile run after six weeks of activity, and neither should your dog
Like you, he needs to build up to it gradually.
Start with some short jogs, a mile or so, each day for a few days, then give him a rest day. Repeat but adding a little distance each time, with a break every few days to let him rest and repair his muscles.
If you are already fit and want to run further, leave your dog behind on your longer runs, until he is fit too. That way, you'll both enjoy your runs together
Labradors Running In Warm Weather
Take extra care when running with your dog in warm weather.
It isn't natural for a dog to run continuously. Left to himself he would trot for a while, stop and sniff a bit, then trot a bit more.
Dogs can and do overheat if running continuously in warm temperatures
It's usually coolest early morning and evening, but even then, a dog can overheat if running constantly. Keep an eye on the temperature and on how your dog is coping. If in doubt, walk him home.
Running With A Lab Puppy
It is probably best not to go running with a Lab puppy.
The current thinking is that we should let puppies finish growing and allow their joints to mature and harden before subjecting them to long periods of activity.
You can find more information on exercising your labrador puppy in our article: How to exercise your puppy
When Can I Start Jogging With My Puppy
If you are hoping to go jogging with your puppy, then you can start to gently do so in very short bursts of 5 to 10 minutes from around 10 months old. You can find out more about how much exercise is too much for puppies in this article.
Running With An Older Dog
Many senior dogs will enjoy and benefit from some short regular runs, but this really is a decision that has to be made on an individual basis.
Do talk to your vet about your plans and get his advice on keeping your old friend safe and happy.
During the last few years an entire sport has developed around running with a dog, it is called CaniX or Canicross, and events are organised in different parts of the country where you can race against others that like running with their dogs.
CaniX caters for all ages and abilities and you can be as ambitious or as laid back as you like.
Serious competitors often teach their dog to pull in a harness which is attached to the runner's body leaving his hands free. During CaniX events dogs must be on a lead or line, they cannot run loose at heel. You can find out more about organised CaniX events here: CaniX UK
Of course you don't need to enter events in order to run with your dog. If you teach your dog to walk to heel, and then to run to heel, you will be able to give him/her loads of exercise whilst keeping you fit, and him under control at all times.
Safety When Running With A Labrador
Safety precautions include paying attention to temperature (dogs can overheat quite quickly in hot weather), and building up distances and fitness gradually.
Be sure to bring a doggy water bottle with you to keep him hydrated.
Overweight or elderly labradors, and labradors with existing health problems should have a thorough check up with the vet before beginning any programme of exercise.
Apply the same common sense precautions to your dog that you would to a person, avoid running with the dog is he is unwell for example. If in doubt, check with the vet.
Training For Running With Labradors
There is no special training required to go running with your dog, but the whole experience will be more pleasant if your dog has been taught to walk and run at heel.
If you want to compete in events it's probably a good idea to have an obedient dog, read our section on Labrador training for more information.
Check out our Labrador Health section for more fun ways to keep fit with your Labrador.
More Information On Labradors
You can find out more about how to keep your Labrador as fit and healthy as possible in the Health section of our website.
If you'd like all of our best Labrador information together in one place, then get your copy of The Labrador Handbook today.
The Labrador Handbook looks at all aspects owning a Labrador, through daily care, to health and training at each stage of their life.
The Labrador Handbook is available worldwide.