Has seeing other owners and their dogs running together tempted you to start this activity yourself? Welcome to the world of canicross! Here is what you need to know to embark on the adventure safely and fully enjoy the benefits of this shared sport.
Essential Canicross Equipment
First of all, a little shopping trip is required. You need:
- A canicross harness perfectly fitted to your pet's body shape to avoid injury.
- A special belt for running with your dog which protects your back and keeps your hands free while you run. If you are the proud owner of several dogs or if your loyal companion is very strong, opt for a harness.
- A pulling line. This is an elasticated line connecting the harness and the belt, usually featuring a built-in shock absorber, with a snap hook at each end. Preferably invest in a line with a grab handle: it will allow you to control your dog more easily when starting and stopping.
You will also need a good pair of running shoes.
A Few Freestyle Sessions to Begin With
Start out without canicross equipment. That way, your dog can go at their own pace and get used to running calmly by your side. During these first sessions as a duo, work on your endurance and teach them the basic canicross command: stop, stopping to associate the action with the word. Be patient, it's highly likely that your ball of fluff finds it difficult to channel their energy at first or is more interested in an enticing scent than in setting their stride to yours.
The Big Day Has Come!
When you feel ready, get into your canicross gear and jog slowly. Instinctively, your dog will go in front of you. Pick up the pace without breaking into a run, your dog should do the same. When you get to a turning point, say left or right and steer the line in that direction. Praise them if they take the right path. What if they don't react? Try again later and don't be scared to repeat until they comply. It's better to focus on one direction at first: this will make it easier for them.
Always Start With a Warm-up
A short off-the-leash walk will allow your running partner to get their body ready for exercise but also to do their business. Similarly, end each outing by letting them stretch their legs as they please.
Take Regular Breaks
Stop every 15 minutes to give your dog water. Remember to take a flask or water bottle in your back pack as well as their bowl.
Make Sure They Are Ok
Be attentive to your dog's state of fatigue and their breathing during the run. If they seem particularly out of breath, slow down or stop so they can recover. Also check that they haven't injured their paw.
Congratulate Them After the Run
Finally, don't forget to reward your dog with compliments, petting and a little well-deserved treat!
How many kms can a dog run? Some breeds are more resilient than others, it's in their genes. We recommend running short distances (2-3 kilometres) with your dog at a moderate pace to start with and then gradually extending the route.