Canine Competitions: 23 Races to Run With Your Dog

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Homo sapiens may dominate marathons, Ragnar Relays, and Ironman Triathlons… for now. But more human races are opening their doors to canine competitors, provided they’re well behaved and leash trained. (If only that was a requirement for human participants, too.)

While all dogs need to exercise, especially given that over half of dogs in America are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, make sure your dog is in shape before entering any event. If exercise is new for your dog, begin with a few blocks of running or walking, and gradually increase by 15 percent each week, says Lindsay Seilheimer, D.V.M., C.C.R.P., rehabilitative medicine veterinarian at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Chicago. 

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During workouts, give your dog time to warm up and cool down, take regular water breaks, check paws frequently (“running on pavement can cause abrasion to paw pads,” Seilheimer says, adding that it’s best to stick to a softer, grassy surface when possible), use a short lead so you have the most control, and avoid retractable leashes. Watch the temperature, too. If it’s too hot, your dog could be at risk for heat stroke.

Got a young pup? Walking is no problem, but if it’s a small breed, wait until it’s at least a year to start running, 14 months for large dogs, Seilheimer says. Keep in mind, too, that if you have a dog with a short nose, like a bulldog or pug, they’ll have a harder time moving air into their lungs, so be cautious about doing strenuous activity with them.

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If your pup’s healthy and willing to run or walk, get your paws on a spot in one of these canine races this summer and fall:

1) K9 Classic

Where: Fort Wayne, Ind.

When: June 4

How long: 5K

2) Paws4Life

Where: Farmington, Pa.

When: June 6

How long: 1 mile, 5K

3) Rocky Dog Trail Run

Where: Vail, Colo.

When: June 10

How long: 1 mile, 5K

4) Dog Days of Summer 5K

Where: San Antonio, Texas

When: June 12

How long: 5K

5) Furry 5K

Where: Seattle

When: June 12

How long: 5K

6) Dog Gone Run

Where: Bend, Ore.

When: June 18

How long: 5K

7) Burgers & Beer 5K Run/Walk

Where: Chicago

When: July 18

How long: 5K

8) The Good Dog – Dirty Dog 5K Run/Walk

Where: Granite Bay, Calif.

When: August 14

How long: 5K

9) Wiggle Butt 5K Fun Run

Where: St. Paul, Minn.

When: September 18

How long: 5K

10) Oktoberfest/Brat Trot

Where: September 22

When: Chicago

How long: 5K

11) Jog with Your Dog

Where: Mountain Home, Ark.

When: September 24

How long: 1 mile, 5K

12) Circle the Lake

Where: Faribault, Minn.

When: September 24

How long: 5K, 10K, half marathon

13) Strut Your Mutt

Where: New York City

When: October 1

How long: 1 and 2 miles

14) Hounds and Harriers Run

Where: South Orange, N.J.

When: October 8

How long: 3 miles or 200 feet (for aging or disabled dogs)

15) Race for the Rescues

Where: Pasadena, Calif.

When: October 15

How long: 1K, 5K, 10K

16) Columbia Gorge Half Marathon Dog Leg

Where: Portland, Ore.

When: Oct. 23

How long: Half marathon

17) Screaming Banshee 5K/10K/Half

Where: Pottersville, Mo.

When: October 25

How long: 5K, 10K, half marathon

18) Uptown Rhodes Race

Where: Atlanta

When: October 29

How long: 5K

19) Bark ‘N Dash

Where: Annapolis, Md.

When: October 29

How long: 1 mile, 5K

20) The Doggy Run

Where: Melbourne, Fla.

When: October 30

How long: 1 mile, 5K

21) Doggie Dash & Dawdle

Where: Albuquerque, N.M.

When: November 1

How long: Short fun walk/run, 5K

22) Tails on the Trails

Where: Topeka, Kan.

When: November 5

How long: 5K

23) Winter Sun 10K

Where: Moab, Utah

When: December 3

How long: 10K

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