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When Should You Stop Running With Your Senior Dog?

Just like humans, dogs need a lot of physical activity and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. That’s why intense sports such as running are awesome to keep your buddy active and avoid him from getting bored. As you probably already know, jogging together regularly has many benefits for both of you!

Old Dog Running

I love running alongside my Labrador. Even if she can still keep up with my pace quite easily, I recently wonder if she can be too old for such an intense physical effort. Senior dogs are less active and more fragile, but they still have full of energy to spend. Therefore, every athlete must know when it’s time to stop running with their elderly companion!

Dogs should start to avoid high-impact sports after 8 years of age. Your companion’s capacity to run when he’s old will vary according to his breed, lifespan, conditions, etc. If he’s very healthy and active, he might be suitable for intense physical activity during his golden years. But most dogs older than 10 years should stop running!

When Are Dogs Considered Old?

It’s an awesome question, but it will depend on many things. First, the size is important because it’s directly related to the lifespan. Small dogs generally live longer than larger ones. Therefore, here’s a general rule depending on your dog size!

  • Small dog breeds are considered old around 10-12 years.
  • Medium dog breeds are considered senior around 8-9 years.
  • Large dog breeds are considered elderly around 6-7 years.
Old Dog In The Grass

There are also some signs that your dog is getting old:

  • Energy Loss.
  • Slowing Down.
  • Muscle Loss.
  • Weight Loss or Gain.
  • White Fur. (Muzzle and Face.)
  • Behavior Changes.
  • Etc.

If your buddy is considered old and has any of the signs above, you should seriously avoid doing intense sports together. Furthermore, visiting your vet could also be an awesome idea to find answers to your questions. An expert is always the best person to give you personalized advice!

Exercise Needs For Old Dogs.

With age, every animal becomes more fragile and less active. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise your senior dog. On the contrary, you need to find less intense things to do with him to spend his energy without risk to hurt or injure him!

In general, dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Some very active breeds such as Labradors, Border Collies, or Vizslas can need up to 2 hours of exercise. Without at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, they are very likely to develop behavioral problems!

In this daily exercise, they should have around 15 to 30 minutes of more intense effort. That’s why running, swimming, and free playtime are great ways to ensure they spend their extra energy.

Your dog’s breed, health, age, and other conditions will influence his exercise requirements. In this article, I will explain to you how his stage of life can affect his physical activity needs.

Do old dogs need the same amount of physical activity?
Normally, they only need from 20 to 40 minutes of exercise per day because of their age. However, what they really need is to enjoy activities that are adapted to their conditions. For example, some old dogs aren’t suitable for 30 minutes of non-stop running as when they were young and energetic pups. Therefore, you should either start to walk or reduce the duration of the effort. –> e.g. (2 x 15 min) or (3 x 10 min)

Can You Run With Your Senior Dog?

Most old dogs shouldn’t run with their owner for their safety. Even if they love to hit the trails, running could be painful for fragile companions. That’s why puppies, ultra-small breeds, injured pets, and senior dogs aren’t suitable to do intense physical activity. It’s crucial to respect your running partner’s limits and conditions to avoid unnecessary pain or injury!

Why Can’t Old Dogs Run?

There are many conditions that restrict them from running safely. Just to give you an idea, a dog around 10 to 12 years of age is approximately the equivalent of someone that’s 60 to 90 years old. With that said, you can probably understand more why they can’t run!

Health Conditions. 

With age, any animal becomes prone to more health problems. This is very likely to be painful for your companion to run without optimal health. The most common issue with senior dogs is their structure. (joints problems) That’s the main reason why you should stop running with your dog when he’s too old!

Less Athletic.

Senior dogs are definitely less active and playful. Even if they want to keep up running with you, their body can’t always support it. During the end of their life, they will lose muscle, energy, and stamina. These are three essential elements to run safely. Their lack of athletic aptitudes will increase their risk of injury because they might not be suitable to run anymore!

Is Running Good For Old Dogs?

Unfortunately, this sport is too intense for most senior companions. Normally, running with your dog is very good for both of you. This sport is ideal to stay healthy, active, and happy if you’re well-suited for it. For fragile dogs, it has more chance to hurt them than anything else!

Some very healthy dogs could benefit from running until their golden years. If you think it’s the case for your companion, you should still be very careful. Dogs can’t pace themselves and will keep up running if you do. That’s why you really need to make sure this type of intense activity is still good and safe for them!

Old English Bulldog

How Old Is Too Old For Dogs To Run?

Your puppy should normally be ready to start running after one year of age. Unfortunately, the right time to stop this sport is more difficult to generalize.

However, most dogs won’t have any problem running until they reach 7-8 years old. After that age, they will start to be more fragile and less active. Depending on their breed, health, and lifespan, it might happen sooner or later!

If your companion is quite old, you should adapt how you’re running together for his safety. Decreasing the distance, intensity, speed, and frequency of this physical activity is important when he’s aging. Once you notice that even moderate jogging is too much for your dog, it’s time to find other less intense activities to enjoy!

Any dog that’s older than 10 to 12 years of age should imperatively stop running. Nonetheless, your companion might need to stop running way sooner than that. Walking can be a safer alternative to exercise him at an elderly stage of life!

What Are The Signs To Stop Running?

The signs of over-exercising are more reliable than the age to know when it’s time to stop running. How old it’s time to stop running will vary a lot from one dog to another. However, your buddy’s physical symptoms can’t mislead you!

First of all, there are short-term signs that will help you understand when it’s time to start running shorter distances at a slower pace. Adapting your dog’s exercise routine gradually is essential to keep him healthy and active. Then, you will have long-term signs of too much or too intense physical activity. They will tell you if you should stop running and find other moderate activities to enjoy with your elderly buddy.

Short Term Signs Of Over Exercising.

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Excessive panting.
  • Extreme thirst.
  • Drooling.
  • Trouble walking.
  • Enable to keep up.
  • Difficulty standing.
  • Confusion.
  • Decreased energy or stamina.
  • Etc.

Long Term Signs To Stop Running.

  • Joint injury.
  • Paws injury.
  • Sore muscles or Stiffness.
  • Behavioral changes.
  • Difficulty to sleep.
  • Etc.

To notice these signs, you need to pay attention to your dog. Too many runners, especially experienced ones don’t look enough at their companion. Make sure your buddy is OK before, during, and after running!

Active Old Golden

The Best Way To Know If Your Dog Is Too Old To Run!

An expert eye will always have more accurate answers to your questions. If you have any hesitation about your dog’s ability to run, please visit a veterinarian. This is from far the best way to know when it’s time to stop running with your dog!

Some Alternative Activities To Running For Senior Dogs!

Even if your dog can’t run, it doesn’t mean to stop exercising with him. You still need to provide him with some moderate physical and mental activity every day. Senior dogs can still be awesome to play with, so have fun with them. Here are some great ways I’ve found to exercise with them even if they are old!


This is the «Pawfect» sport for active elderly dogs. It’s a low-impact canine activity ideal that’s ideal to avoid joints issues and injuries. Moreover, swimming with your buddy is awesome to keep you both healthy while having a lot of fun.

Most dogs will love to play in the water but assure you to always take a look at them while they swim. It’s also an excellent activity to provide your old companion the exercise he needs and keep him cool on sunny days!

Regular Walks.

It’s not because your dog can’t run that he can’t walk. Daily walks are awesome to keep your mature pooch in good shape and health. This type of physical activity can also help him to avoid boredom.

If you’re looking for an alternative to running, walking might be the best option for you. It’s simple, fun, good for both of you, and your old companion will love to explore the neighborhood alongside you.


Maybe your dog won’t come back with the ball as fast as he would have been when he was young, but this game could be a good challenge for him. With his advanced age, be careful to not pitch the ball too far or to push his limits too hard. If your old buddy loves balls, this might be the best activity for him!

Puzzle Games.

Without proper mental stimulation, your dog could suffer from boredom or depression. That’s why puzzle games are very interesting for senior companions. Even if their brain is entertained while swimming, walking, or fetching, they still need something that’s more mentally challenging.

Things that allow your dog to smell, think, or stimulate his brain will make him very happy and satisfied. Old pooches are just waiting to get mentally entertained; puzzle games could be an amazing solution!

Other Fun Things To Do With An Old Dog!

  • Teach Him New Tricks.
  • Obedience Training.
  • Tug of War.
  • Beach Day.
  • Dog Park.
  • Backyard Playtime.
  • Play in Water (or Sprinkler), Leaves, or Snow.
Old Dog In Snow

Last Thoughts About Running With Old Dogs!

Running with your buddy is a wonderful sport that every active dog owner should try. It’s a great way to work out, go outside, and bond with your pooch. Believe me, you will both love to spend quality time jogging together!

However, there’s a time for your senior companion to stop enjoying this type of physical activity. If you know him well, it won’t be too difficult to find other sports or games that he likes.

By the way, you can start exploring your options now and try new things with your old dog even if he’s still OK for intense physical efforts. Now, I wish you to have fun running and doing other cool things together!

Take Care,

See You On Trails!