Guidance for runners with dogs

Dear parkrunners, we've received a report of a 'near miss' incident involving a slower runner being overtaken by another with a dog in which the dog, lead and slower runner became entangled. Thankfully on this occasion we can class it as a near miss because no-one was hurt. However, it serves as a useful reminder that while dogs have always been and still are very welcome, it does place some extra responsibilities on the owners.

So after a quick trawl of the interweb we've cherry picked some useful guidance that we hope, if followed, will keep everyone safe and happy!


Runners with dogs

This is general guidance from parkrun UK:

  • Most of our events do allow runners with dogs, though in some locations this may not be possible (Malling is one of many parkruns that welcomes dogs)
  • In any case, we ask that dogs are kept under firm control, kept on a short lead or harness, and extreme care taken to avoid tripping other runners
  • One dog per runner ( This rule was introduced at the end of November 2012).

You can get most questions answered here at the parkrun UK support site


Your responsibilities

To help ensure the continued acceptance of dogs at parkrun events and Malling parkrun in particular, we request that owners follow the code of conduct below;

  • Run only with one dog
  • Appreciate that many children and some adults can be quite fearful of dogs.
  • Use a short lead or harness and keep dog firmly under control at all times during the parkrun event.
  • Start towards the back of the field to avoid being squashed during the start
  • If approaching a slower runner(s) it is your responsibility to ensure overtaking is done safely. You should aim to allow 2m between your dog and the other runner and call out in good time which side you intend to pass on. Where the path is narrow or there is a larger group of runners, this may require patience and waiting for a suitable opportunity. Once passed you should thank the other runner(s).
  • Try and get your dog to do its business before the start
  • Always pick up after your dog – carry poop bags at all times. We do have emergency bags at the start/finish in case extras are needed.
  • If possible, move off the course if your dog needs to relieve itself in order to avoid obstructing the course.
  • Leave the course in a good condition.

While you cannot just tell a dog to be quiet, when the Run Briefing is taking place, please keep the dog’s noise to a minimum so other runners can hear what is being said as the briefings are important. If you cannot keep your dog’s noise to an acceptable level, please remove it from the area.


Runners without dogs

It's probably also worth noting that those without dogs can also play an important role by giving runners with dogs a slightly "wider berth" when overtaking. Also to appreciate that a nervous or excited dog may react unpredictably if someone suddenly appears from behind.

Please also respect dog owners wishes and only approach/pat with permission.


Further information for volunteer event teams

Malling parkrun event organisers have the ultimate authority to intervene if they believe that a dog runner is not following our guidance. However, as with most matters, we do consider all parkrunners to be part of the wider parkrun community and where appropriate, runners should feel able to remind others of the rules or to report problems to the local teams. If you observe or are involved in an incident, please do report to the Run Director so that it can be dealt with appropriately.

I hope these guidelines will help towards the on-going success of Malling parkrun and parkrun in general and not put people off attending with their dogs.

Although we aim to have water available this is not always possible and we recommend that you bring your own water for your dog.

No dogs must be left unattended in cars.

Further information and advice about running with your dogs can be found on the Cani Cross UK website

Many thanks for your continued co-operation on this matter :)

Malling parkrun