Canicross - an Ideal Sport for all Active Dogs & Their Owners

Canicross - an Ideal Sport for all Active Dogs & Their Owners

Author WDF Staff


Many dog owners love having different activities with their dogs. That is absolutely necessary if you have an active dog that needs plenty of daily activities. One human-canine sport that became very popular in recent years is canicross. If you want to know more about it or you’d like to get started, here are some helpful things you might be interested in.

What is canicross?

Canicross can’t be simply described as running with your dog. It has a unique angle that puts it close to bikejoring or skijoring. In canicross, the runner and the dog are attached, and whenever the runner’s feet are off the ground, the dog is pulling them. It offers a unique perspective that combines two of the best things in the world - running and dogs.

Origin of canicross

The first thing you might be interested in is the origin of this sport. European sledding dogs had to stay in shape in the off-season. During “dry” periods when snow was gone, dog trainers started training their dogs differently. They attached their dogs to themselves and let the dog pull the trainer during their cross-country run. It was an excellent way for dogs to get some much-needed training and prepare for the sled season during the winter months.

Pretty soon, dog owners and trainers started adopting this off-season sledding training as a stand-alone sport. They named it canicross (canine + cross country), and it started gaining popularity all across the globe. Europe was first, and this sport took off in the UK, where many professional events are held.

canicross girl running

Interested in starting?

If you are interested in starting and giving canicross a try, you can do so with ease. The main thing you need is a dog running partner, a dog harness, a bungee cord, a canicross waist belt, and a will to run. Let’s get into more detail about the equipment.

Dog running partner

OK, this is not a part of the equipment, but canicross is not canicross without a dog running partner. Some breeds are better at it than others, but all dogs can be part of a canicross team. The idea is to get a running partner that is powerful enough to pull you while they are running. Otherwise, it is just plain running with your dog. Some of the best dog breeds for canicross are Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, East Siberian Laikas, and all other sled dogs who have sledding in their genes. However, all energetic breeds can be a part of the sport. There is no reason your Dalmatian, German Shorthaired Pointer, or Belgian Malinois couldn’t run with you.

Before you decide to join this sport, make sure your vet gives you the green light.

Canicross harness

Dogs that are a part of a canicross team will need a special harness. Most dog harnesses are not designed with canicross in mind. They will interfere with the dog’s breathing, shoulder movement and have a wrong weight distribution. Canicross dog harnesses enable dogs to pull their owners without the harness interfering with their movement and breathing.

Bungee cord

If you are just starting, you can use your regular leash attached to your waist belt. Still, to truly experience the sport, you will need a 6 - 10 feet bungee cord that will be attached to your dog. It will ensure your dog has the freedom of movement and you can retain perfect balance.

Canicross waist belt

Canicross wouldn’t be what it is if you’d run without the assistance of your dog. There is no better way of doing that than pulling on the canicross waist belt. That is a special running belt that sits just above the runner’s hips. The dog is attached to it, and each time the runner’s feet are in the air, they are pulled by their dog. This is a sensation you simply cannot achieve with a regular cord or a walking leash.

Love of running

The runner will get some assistance from the dog, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is an easy sport. It is still running, and you will need plenty of energy to compete in it. However, if you are looking for a fun activity you can share with your dog, you can build your stamina alongside your dog. This is an excellent sport for all owners who share their lives with active dogs with plenty of energy to spend.

Canicross training

The most important thing you need to train is your stamina. Dogs are better runners than we are, and they will have no problems keeping up with you. However, there are some basic things your dog will have to learn.

The first thing they need to know is good leash manners. Start by teaching them to behave while they are on their walks. After that, you can start with some basic obedience training and make progress to teaching your dog commands like changing direction and pace. Commands like “Speed up” or “Slow down” might be great for professional racers. Still, you can comfortably start without your dog knowing these commands.

World Dog Finder team

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