We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

A few months ago, me and Cow ran our very first 5K together.

I hate running. I hate it a lot. But when I’m with Cow, it’s a totally different story. She gets so excited every time I put her harness on for an adventure. She quickly learned to take directions so I only sometimes trip over her these days. And she gallops like a drunk horse.

Our time for our first 5K was about 41 minutes, which is pretty slow. But we did it, and we got a participation medal. And we had so much fun.

It’s a little tough to find more races that allow dogs. So I was pretty excited to find this Dog Race Finder that shows you dog-friendly events in the United States.

Most Charity Races Allow Dogs – Just Ask!

Small races, usually 5Ks, 8Ks and some half-marathons allow dogs. If strollers are allowed, dogs probably are too. Make sure you contact the race director to confirm.

Serious races, for example, the New York City Marathon, do not allow dogs.

When Not To Bring Your Dog To A Race

Dogs under 18 months old may still have soft growth plates, making them vulnerable to injuries that can cause their legs to grow crooked.

Racing can make your dog more confident. Even though Cow is afraid of most people, she’s not aggressive, so I’m hoping that, by exposing her to more people without the pressure of direct contact, she’ll start to come out of her shell.

But races are full of people, and the smaller ones sometimes have children present. If you think your dog might bite someone, it’s a great liability to have them at a race.

A healthy dog should be able to complete at a moderate 5K without much prior training. I love that they take place in the mornings before it gets too hot in the summer.

Your dog’s health always comes first. If you’re a serious runner and want to make a great time, you probably shouldn’t bring your dog. Having a dog means extra water breaks, potty stops and quick checks to make sure they’re okay.

What To Bring To A Race With Your Dog

Collapsible water bowl – ideally one that you can clip to your belt.

Standard leash – ideally one with a traffic handle in the middle that you can use to pull your dog closer when someone is trying to pass you.

A comfy harness – it’s best to use a harness because running can involve sudden stops and pulling that would strain at your dog’s neck if she wears a collar. The martingale harness from Canine Equipment is the first comfortable harness I’ve found that Cow cannot slip out of.

Bone broth – you don’t want to feed your dog thirty minutes before or after the race, as that can cause bloat. You could carry small treats, but you probably won’t need them. A nutritious drink like bone broth has electrolytes to keep your dog going during a long race – it’s like Gatorade for dogs.

Poop bags – running might make your dog want to poop, and not every park is going to have poop bag dispensers. If you’re short on space, no need to take the whole roll, just one bag + one backup is all you need.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You'll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.