Running trails with a dog has numerous benefits for both human and canine—dogs make great company, and they add safety for otherwise-solo runners. Dogs also provide motivation to get out the door and on to the trails, as the soft surface of trails is better for a pup’s health than hard concrete or asphalt. Plus, have you ever seen an unhappy dog on a trail run? It’s a win-win.
That said, trail running with a dog can be a pain in the butt if you don’t have the right gear. We tested leashes, harnesses, and extras to to find the best dog running gear—the products that make hitting the trails with your dog doggone great.
Best Leashes and Harnesses for Trail Running with Your Dog
Ruffwear Roamer Bungee Dog Leash | $39.95
With a super-stretchy bungee saving shoulder sockets from hard-pulling dogs, and easily converting to hands-free and back via a simple buckle, the Roamer Bungee ranks high. We love how the handle/waist strap is nicely padded for comfort while the overall leash still remains lightweight. A small loop in the webbing at the handle holds a plastic bag when shoved into the space (tying the bag around the loop keeps it secure). The durable clip that connects to a collar or harness swivels to move with your dog without twisting the leash, but takes some getting used to for quick clipping and unclipping.
D-fa Ghandi Dog Leash | $45
This leash comes in two pieces for a 54-inch-long version for running, which extends to 60 inches when the bungee is fully stretched. A simple 28-inch piece works on its own for short-leash dog walking. With the running/hiking attachment, the leash becomes hands-free with a quick clip around the waist. It’s easy to unclip mid-run for hand-held leash holding, like on particularly technical trail sections, and just as easy to re-clip when on smoother footing. We love the small zippered pouch on the waistbelt that ensures you never leave home without a dog-poop bag (if you remember to replace the bag once used).
Ruffwear Hi & Light Lightweight Dog Harness | $39.95
This four-point adjustable harness proved comfortable for our running dog and easy to use for their human runner. It’s lightweight and streamlined—always a good thing—and we appreciate how the smooth interior sheds dog hair…a nice feature if your dog, well, sheds. A substantial Velcro pocket near the leas attachment point is intended for poop bags and dog tags; there’s even a cord to attach tags. We may or may not have also stashed a full dog poop bag in said pocket once or twice. The dog didn’t seem to mind while the owner was ecstatic about this.
Stunt Puppy Go Dog Glo Harness | $48
Nicely padded on the chest panel and lined with mesh, this harness seems comfortable. (We only say, “seems” because our dogs can’t talk.) A “martingale-style” leash attachment area tightens when the dog pulls, and loosens when they don’t, allowing control without a tight fight. This harness reflects up to 500 feet, a bonus for trail runners who also run roads with their pups. Note: dogs that heavily shed leave their mark (aka: dog hair) attached to the mesh of the chest panel.
Best Poop Bag Set-Up for Trail Runs
Kurgo Duty Bag | $9.99
Using this ingenious little contraption means you always have a poop bag at the ready on your run. The tiny poop bag holder attaches easily to leashes via two Velcro straps on its backside, plus a metal hook to keep the Duty Bag close to the handle of most leashes. (It works well with the leashes reviewed here, but is challenging to attach to rope-style leashes without it sliding down toward the dog.) An additional, small metal hook can hold a used poop bag, so you don’t have to. The Duty Bag container comes pre-loaded with a 20-bag roll, and fits standard-size dog waste bag rolls.
Our Favorite Dog Booties
Ruffwear Polar Trex Winter Dog Boots | $49.95
For dogs who join their people on cold, snowy runs, these little booties keep paws warm and protected. Like a well-constructed, winterized human running shoe, the breathable softshell upper keeps cold at bay while shedding moisture. The outsole is made of Vibram IceTrek for sure-footedness on the slickest surfaces. A Velcro cuff secures around the pup’s narrow part of their lower leg, and a protective gaiter pulls up and zips around that Velcro strap, keeping out snow. Some dogs may give owners the stink eye while being fitted in shoes like this, but eliminating frozen balls of ice between their paws will have them licking you in gratitude (and may allow longer runs).
Best Car Accessories for Trail Runs
Kurgo Loft Hammock | $79.99
Since trail running with dogs can create filthy (though happy) dogs, a cover for car seats comes in handy. This design from Kurgo converts between a simple cover to a “hammock” by slipping straps over front seats. As a hammock, your dirty dog is restrained to the back seat—there’s no jumping into the front while you’re driving or running errands post-run, and no pawing at the backs of front seats with dirty paws. The reversible Loft Hammock is made from water-resistant, durable ripstop and is machine-washable. It’s meant to be used in cars with bench seats.
Chuck IT! Travel Dog Bed | $39.99
For driving to and from trailheads, this easily portable bed keeps your pup comfy in the back of a hatchback, inside a truck topper, on the floor of a van, or even on a bench seat. The Travel Dog Bed isn’t particularly plush, but does add comfort to an otherwise hard surface, which dogs seem to appreciate especially after a long run. The machine-washable bed packs away into a stuff sack, like a sleeping bag, to not take up too much space when not in use.
Best Feeding and Watering Accessories for the Trail
Stunt Puppy Nano Bowl | $24
This lightweight (1-ounce), collapsible bowl folds down small enough to even fit in most waistpacks, allowing you to share your handheld water with your pup mid-run. Or, keep the bowl tucked away in your car for post-run pours. (Just avoid keeping it folded for too ling; the bowl can start to collapse toward itself when in use.) The durable Nano Bowl holds 3.5 cups of water and is machine-washable.
Mountain Smith K9 Cube | $79.99
This is a total dog running gear kit: It contains a PVC-lined dog food bag, two collapsible bowls, and pockets for things like leashes and poop bags might be overkill for a simple trail run, but owning a Mountain Smith K9 Cube comes in handy in multiple situations (car camping, friends watching the dog, etc.). For trail runs with your dog that you drive to, having food and collapsible bowls at the ready allows post-run feeding and watering. For closer-to-home runs where taking dog food isn’t necessary, keeping one of these collapsible bowls in the car allows easy rehydrating of your dog without taking up too much room.
Zukes Hip Action Dog Treats, $9.29 (6-ounce bag) | $20.29, (16-ounce bag)
These treats are formulated to help support joint health and overall mobility for active dogs. Each treat contains 104mg of glucosamine and 34mg of chondroitin, dietary supplements intended to “cushion” joints. These treats also contain egg shell membrane, antioxidant-rich whole-food berries, vitamins and minerals. Choose from Beef Recipe, Chicken Recipe, or Peanut Butter & Oats Recipe.