Essential Dog Running Gear

Before heading out the door this winter, grab this essential dog running gear to keep things fun and safe. Your dog will thank you!


Why a harness? Your dog is probably going to be so darn excited to be your running buddy that they might pull a bit. A harness helps to redistribute the weight from their neck to their chest, which is much safer. Another plus to having a harness is the added reflectivity – your dog will be easier to spot on those dark morning runs. The type of harness you bring depends what you want to bring on the run and what your dog is comfortable wearing. Check out the different types and their uses below!

The Maximalist

For those longer runs where you want to carry some water and treats, look for a streamline backpack-style harness like the Ruffwear Singletrak backpack. This backpack comes with two 20 oz (0.6 L) hydration pouches that go in the top pocket. You can use the other pocket for keys, treats, bars, or water bowls.

This harness only comes in small, medium, and large. It is meant to fit dogs around 30 lbs and above. The reason for this is that those little guys can’t carry all that weight from the full water bottles! For a harness with pockets for a smaller dog, try the Ruffwear Web Master Pro harness mentioned in the next section.


The In-Between-ist

If you want a streamlined harness just to carry keys, treats, and a bar, look for a slim harness with pockets like the Ruffwear Web Master Pro harness. This harness is nice and bright, with lots of reflective piping to keep you both safe on those runs in the dark. It’s also just a really nice-looking harness.

Keep in mind that this harness uses a climbing harness-style double-back closure system, meaning that the straps need to be looped through each time – you don’t set the size once and just buckle it like most other harnesses.


If you want a similarly bright harness that’s much easier to put on, the Ruffwear Web Master harness is the same harness, minus the pockets.


Another great harness without pockets is the front-range style harness from Chai’s Choice. Available in many fun colors, this style of harness is comfortable for your dog, reflective, has a handle (great for quickly grabbing your dog) and includes two leash-attachment points. One is on the back of the harness, which is great for running. If your dog is a puller, the front leash attachment point helps to stop them pulling. If you want a harness for a bunch of different activities, this is the one to get!


The Minimalist

For a streamlined, no-frills reflective harness that won’t bother a picky dog to wear on a run, check out the Hurtta Casual Padded Y-Harness and Casual Padded Harness. They are similar harnesses with slightly different designs – both have neoprene padding that is comfortable against your dog’s fur. Hurtta is a Finnish company that makes harnesses for active dogs – even for dog sledding!



You can of course use your regular leash, but if you want something more geared toward running, you’ll want a leash that can fasten to your waist so you can run hands-free!

Bungee Hands-Free

For a smoother run, get a leash with a bungee-type expansion like the Ruffwear Roamer leash. As your dog gets ahead of you, this rubberband-type leash absorbs some of the pulling shock. The handle has a sliding buckle so you can adjust it to your waist size and clip it on. At the waist area is an accessory loop to attach things like keys and poop bags. Another great feature of this ultimate running leash is the traffic handle near the clip – it’s a handle to quickly rein in your dog if you need them close while crossing a street.

Reflective Hands-Free

If you want a similar leash without the rubber band feature, the Ruffwear Slackline leash has nearly all the same features – an adjustable waist and accessory loop, and has the bonus of having an adjustable length. It’s also reflective! Both of these features are really well done on this leash – the adjustable length is great for if you’re running on a small sidewalk or along a road and don’t want your dog to get to far away from you, and the reflective stripe is subtle enough to just look like a stripe during the daytime while reflecting brightly at night.

Bonus: the sturdy talon hooks on these leashes that fasten to your dog’s harness are easy to take on and off using gloves!


Poop bags and holder

Ah, picking up poop. The least favorite chore of dog owners, but also an essential one if you live in a city. To make this chore easier, it’s best to give your dog some time to do their business near your house. However, there will always be times when you are far from home and need to take care of business!

There are several techniques here. If you’re doing an out-and-back run, you can pick up the poop in a bag, leave it to the side of the path, then pick it up on your way back. Just be sure to remember to pick it up! If you’re forgetful (most of us are!), you can carry it on the leash.

The system:





  1. Start with a poop bag holder that doesn’t swing on the leash like the Zippy Paws holder. Alternatively, if you have a pocket, you can stuff a few bags in there!
  2. Then add poop bags.
    • If you want to buy a bazillion of them for a low cost, get the Gorilla Supply bags – you get 1000 bags for about $15. They have no central roll piece to throw away at the end. They also come in bright blue and green, so they are easy to see for those times where you pick them up on your way back home.
    • For the most Earth-friendly poop bags, use bags made by My AlphaPet. These are made of cornstarch and are fully compostable – even the cardboard center roll and packaging can be composted! They come in bright green and bright red with a subtle rose scent. Just make sure that you still pick them up to bring home to your backyard doggy compost bin. You can also put them in the trash can at home – they will break down in a landfill as well as food does. Just don’t put them in your city compost bin – most curbside compost collection services do not accept dog poop compost in their bins!
  3. Add a leash holder for used bags. It’s no fun to have to carry a poop bag home in your hands. Attach it to your leash instead (well away from your body) using this leash carrier attachment.



Bring along a few treats to reward your dog for good behaviors like not    pulling. Zuke’s Mini Naturals are great because they are small and easy to pop in your dog’s mouth.


Water bowl

On a long run, your dog will eventually get thirsty. Stop for a water break with the Guyot Designs squishy silicone bowl. The squishy design means you can stash it nearly anywhere – in a pocket or in your dog’s backpack or harness. You just whip it out and it forms right back into a bowl. The other great bonus about this bowl is that it comes as a set of an 8 oz cup (for you) and a 16 oz bowl for your dog, both of which are dishwasher safe so they can double as backpacking and travel bowls!



For those dark winter mornings and evenings, be sure to stay visible using super bright running lights. This set by Apace Vision comes in a variety of color and attachment options. The two pack is perfect for running with your dog – you each get one light! If you’d like more visibility, you can get two sets – your dog gets one on their collar, you can put one on each of the back of your shoes, and then clip another to your front collar. The lights are super bright but also super light so you can barely feel them when you’re running.


Once you’re geared up, click here to learn to how to train your dog to run with you!


Have a great run!