If you’re looking to start running with your dog then it’s worth getting hold of a suitable dog leash for running with your dog so you can get the most out of your runs together. Running with your dog is definitely a great way to exercise both you and your pet and have a load of fun at the same time, and it helps to have comfortable dog running gear for both you and them.
While you can run your dog with their regular leash, you may want to buy a specific dog running leash which makes it easy to go running hands free with your dog, using a bungee leash which you can attach around your waist and to a dog running harness on your running buddy, which should be comfortable and well-fitting for them to run in safely and comfortably.
I’ve sniffed out some of the best dog running leash and dog running harness combos to help you make the right choice when it comes to investing in some new dog running gear. We also explain why you may want to have a specific dog running waist belt to attach to your dog’s running leash.
If you’re new to running with your dog then you may also find our specific post on how to run with your dog useful reading when preparing both of you for running together.
The best dog leashes and harnesses for running – Table of Contents
- How to choose the best dog harness for running with your dog
- Should you run with a dog harness or attach the leash to his or her collar?
- Selecting the best dog leash for running
- Best all-round dog running leash and harness
- Best hands-free dog leash options
- Best harness and leash for running strong dogs that like to pull
How to choose the best dog harness for running with your dog
When it comes to choosing the best dog harness for running with your dog, you have a few options to choose from. The best harnesses for running with your dog have a few things in common. Key features to look for in a dog running harness are:
- Fit and shape – does the harness allow your dog a good range of motion for running without rubbing on their legs or shoulders? Is it comfortable with good padding? Can your dog breathe comfortably when wearing the harness?
- Sizing and adjustability – is the running harness adjustable to fit your dog’s shape comfortably? A good dog running harness needs to fit securely so the dog can’t slip out
- A variety of leash attachment points on the harness – some dog running harnesses offer chest attachments and back attachment points
- Reflective details for visibility – it’s important for your dog to be seen in low light and dark conditions, and reflective details are important, especially if you have a dark-colored dog
- Durability – it almost goes without saying that a good dog running harness should be sufficiently durable to stand up to intensive use, especially if you’ll be hiking and trail running with your dog over trail obstacles and through terrain where the harness may brush up against obstacles such as trees and scrub.
Should you run with a dog harness or attach the leash to his or her collar?
To some extent, whether to get a specific dog harness for running and hiking or whether you can run with your dog using a leash attached to their collar comes down to your personal preference and your particular dog.
Some dogs (myself included) have too much of a tendency to want to pull the leash holder when they are attached via a harness rather than a collar, and if they do this unexpectedly to move towards someone or something you are running close to then as a dog handler you have less control over them if they are in a harness, especially if they are a large or strong dog like me. I do still wear a harness when I go on my trail runs, though, so my parents can switch the leash to the harness for river crossings and any tricky sections where I may slip.
In these situations it may be better for you to use a dog leash for running that is attached to their collar, and discourage them from pulling too intensively, in the same way as you would if you were walking instead of running together.
It can also be helpful to run your dog with a bungee leash especially if it is attached to their collar, as it’s more forgiving if one of you stops suddenly (for example, you trip over) and reduces the risk of hurting their neck compared to an inflexible regular dog leash.
Selecting the best dog leash for running with your dog
Choosing a bungee dog leash for running
If your dog is going to be wearing a dog harness for running then it is generally best to use the dog harness with a bungee leash, as this type of running leash absorbs shocks, which is especially important if you are trail running over uneven terrain and obstacles.
Choosing a hands-free dog leash for running
A hands-free dog leash is a good option when running your dog with a harness on them and you are confident you have control over your dog and they won’t pull you over if they’re attached to you. This is an especially great option if you are doing most of your runs together on paved paths and flat, predictable terrain.
If you are trail running your dog with a leash attached to their collar then for safety’s sake I suggest you do not choose to attach a waist / hands-free dog leash to your dog’s collar as it creates too much of a fixed connection between the dog’s neck and your body.
When I go trail running with my parents, on particularly gnarly and challenging trails, they usually attach a leash to my collar and hold it in their hand at the other end. We find this way is generally safer for them to be able to quickly let go of the leash if necessary, and it’s harder to do that if your leash is attached to your handler’s waist.
What is the best dog running leash length?
Generally a 6ft leash is a good length dog leash for running and I like to run with this leash length compared to shorter leashes.
A 6ft leash gives me enough space to run near my parents without being too constrained, and will usually end up longer than 6ft if it’s a bungee leash, when stretched out. It’s also the maximum leash length stated in many park’s leash laws.
Consider a specific dog running harness and leash for running a dog that likes to pull
If you have a large or particularly athletic dog like a husky or herding dog (like me!) then you may find a great running solution in the form of a specific dog running setup called ‘Canicross’. The differences with Canicross are that:
- the dog wears a specific running harness designed for pulling, like a sled dog would
- the handler runs behind their dog and gives them verbal commands such as to go, stop, slow down, left and right
- the handler wears a waist harness specifically designed to sit low around their hips, which allows them to keep balance and control when the dog pulls.
This type of dog running harness and leash setup could be a great option if your dog loves to pull and do a job, as it helps them to focus on the act of running and less so much on the environment around them. I’m still learning but am finding it helpful to focus on pulling and listening to commands from my parents, plus it’s a hardcore workout because I get to pull them as well as run myself.
The waist belt the person in this setup wears is also a game-changer if you struggle with being pulled off-balance by your dog when using normal waist-worn hands-free dog leashes. To give you an idea of what this looks like, here’s my Dad and me at the trailhead ready to hit the trails in our Canicross get-up:
Best all-round dog running leash and harness combo
This Ruffwear bungee leash is designed specifically for running with your dog. This hands free dog leash is popular among both road and trail runners, as it easily converts from a hand held dog leash to being able to clip it around your waist to go running with your dog hands free.
I also have this popular Ruffwear harness which is a great choice for a dog running harness, if your dog is unlikely to pull when you run together, and it’s also perfect for hiking in. I wear this harness on runs although my leash is often clipped to my collar – it gives my parents the option to clip a leash to the back attachment, or the no-pull attachment on my chest. It’s well-padded, has reflective details and is very adjustable and super comfortable. I regularly wear it for hours at a time during long trail runs and hikes.
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Best hands free dog leash option for running and everyday walks
Most versatile hands free dog leash
If you are looking for a versatile dog leash you can use to walk and run your dog hands-free, then this award-winning leash from Kurgo is a great option.
Like many Kurgo products, it has an ‘over-built’, rugged design, with strong webbing and padding on the handle, so it’s built to be super durable. It’s adjustable to pretty much any length between 3ft and 6ft and you can use it hands free around your waist or over your shoulder, courier-style, and it also has an option for walking or running two dogs at the same time. To see more photos of what this looks like click here to see the product on Amazon.
This is a great value leash for doing more than just running with your dog, and pairs well with this Kurgo dog running harness.
Shop Kurgo running leashes and harnesses:
Hands Free Bungee Dog Running Leash
Another great hands free option is Stunt Puppy’s hands free leash for running, especially if you want a bungee leash to help absorb shocks when running with your dog.
This Stunt Puppy leash is a bungee leash that is light, easily adjustable and has a quick-release clip on both the human and dog end of the leash.
There’s also a handy grab-handle on the non-bungee section of this running leash, close to the collar attachment, which is useful in case you need to bring your dog in close to you at short notice.
Shop the Stunt Puppy dog running leash at Amazon
Best dog harness and dog leash for running if your dog is strong and tends to pull
A Canicross setup is made up of three parts: a specific style of human waist belt (which sits low, around the hips and has leg straps), a dog harness and a bungee dog running leash, which is great for off-road runs on wide, non-technical trails such as parks, forest paths and fire roads.
European brand Nonstop Dogwear produces a whole range of professional dog running gear, and a similar setup is also available from Ruffwear. This type of running with your dog is a lot of fun, I can tell you from first hand experience!
If you’re running with your dog using one of these running harness setups then it can also be handy to have a non-bungee, easy-to-access leash attached to their collar, in case you need greater control than the harness offers.
In those situations, a shorter, lightweight leash that handily stows around your dog’s collar, like this one, is also a great addition to your dog running gear bag.
Shop Nonstop Dogwear and Ruffwear canicross dog running gear
If your dog is anything like me then after all that exercise running with you, they may be so excited that it can take time to calm down after exercise. If that sounds like them, then my tips for how to calm your dog down after exercise may help them, too.
I hope you found this guide to finding a dog leash and harness for running has helped you find a suitable leash and harness setup for your dog. I’ve personally used most of the gear included in this list so if you have any questions then let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help! You can also follow my adventures with my trail running family Trail & Kale on our @trailandkale Instagram account.