Best Dog-Friendly Mud Runs

If you are ready to move beyond a run on your typical neighborhood route, here are some of the best dog-friendly mud runs to enjoy with your dog. A dog-friendly mud run is usually from 2.5 to 5K in distance. However, there are other dog-friendly runs that are much longer, including marathons, and ultramarathons (50 miles), even a few 100-mile races. These races are not as common.

The runs have a variety of different obstacles placed along the way to challenge you and your dog. There are plenty of reasons to run with your dog. Humans need exercise and their canine companions do, too. Plus, the fun you have together on these races is the perfect way to strengthen your bond.

What Exactly is a Dog-Friendly Mud Run?

Mud runs without dogs can be extremely grueling. They are endurance tests. Mud runs with dogs, however, are less painstaking. After all, the entire point of the race is to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Man competing with his dog in a mud run event

The dog-friendly mud runs consist of 15-20 obstacles from a mud crawl obstacle to a sprint. There is not as much pressure on your dog as they have the freedom to sniff and turn back. So you end up carrying them through the obstacles they choose not to do.

Pros and Cons

Now, that you have an idea of what’s involved in a mud run, Let’s discuss the pros and cons of these mud runs.


  • For new dog parents, now is your chance to show your dog they could trust you. Just gently guide them through the course,
  • For long-time dog parents, you know how difficult it is sometimes to live with an energetic, and up-for-new adventure kind of dog. This is your chance to give them an opportunity for release. Put their crazy energy into a form of exercise that you both can benefit from.
  • For your best pals, this could also be an opportunity for them to have new friends. At the end of the day, when the race is through, it’s technically a soiree for your dogs. 


  • You would have to get down, get dirty, and be patient with your dogs. This could be considered a con, however, I believe this to be one of the pros.

The Mud Run Checklist

Like for any race, you should come prepared. For the human be sure you have the following:  

Woman competing with her dog in a mud run event
  • Food and water– although most of these events have food stalls or kiosks since they are fundraisers, it’s still good to have a granola bar in case you get hungry. Water is also a must. Even if you think the obstacle course is not as draining, your body still loses water.
  • Cash- There are readily available food stalls at most of these events. Besides, I doubt if a bar of granola would satisfy your hunger, especially after the race. Remember that ATMs are not always at the venue’s disposal.
  • Change of clothes, and towel– For the event, you’d have to crawl, run, and jump on muddy surfaces. Your race outfit would get drenched in muddy water. So, it’s best that after you get yourself cleaned up, you have a change of clothes and a clean towel.
  • wet-bag–After you get cleaned up, you need a wet bag to put all your muddied clothes in. 
  • Clear car mat–you will also have to face the problem of where to put your dirtied shoes. Now, normally I would suggest reusing your grocery plastic bag. But for less than $20, you can buy clear car mats. These will protect your vehicle’s carpeting.  
  • Water-proof phone case– With this once-in-a-lifetime event, it’s best to have a keepsake like a photo. Keep your phone protected, so you take pictures of a great day.

For dogs:

  • Food and water– Your dogs will also feel drained after a high-energy workout. Bring some dog food and water for her. You should also bring her some treats. 
  • Towel– Getting cleaned up and dried goes for your dogs, as well. You wouldn’t want them to shake off all the mud in your car seats.

Many of the Races are Run for Charity

Mud run for cancer charity - Best dog-friendly mud run

Mud races, aside from being a human and dog bonding experience, can also be much more meaningful. Take, for example, Paws FUR pink. It’s another mud race with your dog that’s listed in Iron Doggy. What makes this particular event special is the purpose behind it.

Paws FUR pink is a fundraiser for Charity PAWtners, to support breast and canine cancer. If you go to their website, you could see that they offer either a virtual run or register for next year’s February race. 

Virtual Mud Runs 

A virtual marathon is just like it sounds. Running a marathon – virtually. Instead of all the participants meeting in one place at a certain time, everyone does the marathon individually at a location of their choosing. It can usually take place on a certain date or over a range of days to accommodate more people.

How Does A Virtual Marathon Work?

girl and dog doing virtual mud run on a treadmill

How a virtual marathon works is really up to whoever organizes it, but it typically works the same way as a traditional marathon. A runner would sign up, pay their fee and choose their distance online. The difference is you can run the marathon at a location that you pick, or even on a treadmill! Does the treadmill seem like it is lacking something, like maybe mud?

Once you complete your marathon, you submit your time, and (most of the time) you provide evidence to show your time and distance. This could be in the form of screenshots from a Fitbit or smartphone. Usually, the results must be submitted within a certain time frame.

Benefits of a Virtual Marathon?

The most obvious benefit of a virtual marathon right now is social distancing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual marathons provided a method for runners to continue competing in the races without putting their health or the health of others at risk. People aren’t meeting in one spot, coming within 2M of each other, touching things like water bottles, pens for sign-in, or bumping into other people at the starting line.

Virtual marathons also offer a great way to avoid the headache that comes with some larger events, such as parking and traffic. Another huge bonus – especially in locations with unpredictable weather – is that the virtual marathon can be planned to take the unpredictable weather into account so the date you select for your marathon can be set for a day on which more agreeable weather is predicted.

Virtual marathons are also great for organizers. The Organizing of an in-person marathon can be a lot of work and can become stressful. The route of the race needs to be determined, volunteers need to be located, and permits must be obtained to shut down streets.

Virtual marathons can also give back to the community! Just like with traditional marathons, virtual marathons also allow for money to be raised for charities or community organizations online. As virtual marathons grow, so do the opportunities for charities to benefit from them.

Final Thoughts

Dog-friendly mud runs may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. However, if you enjoy activities with your dog and are interested in both of you getting fit, this is an excellent way of accomplishing this goal.

Just be sure to gradually work your way up to being in shape for a race. Start with a 1-mile race and work your way up from there. Also, I would recommend that you get in contact with a trainer in your area that trains for this type of race — Obstacle Course Mud runs with your dog.

Most important, check with your veterinarian before you start on this endeavor to be sure your pup is in good enough shape to at least start training for the race. You might also go to your doctor and let her know of your plans to start this type of training and be sure that you are in good enough shape for this training.

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