The term canicross comes from Europe. Cross means to move cross country. Canicross is running, attached to your dog, where your dog pulls you! The human is the driver, directing the dog with voice commands. Canicross is a great way not only to get your dog fit, but to challenge your dog’s intellect as well.
As long as your dog is at least one year old and healthy, he or she can give canicross a try.
Your dog wears a harness and you wear a padded belt, similar to a climbing harness. You are attached to your dog with a line and an integrated bungee. Canicross is typically a one dog sport, but it can be done with two dogs if they are not very powerful or if you are an exceptionally fast, strong and agile runner.
There are several different types of harnesses, but I greatly prefer the Freemotion harness from Non-stop from Norway:
DogPoweredFun has just about every size of Freemotion Harness for your dog to try. We also have an inventory of alternative brands if the Non-stop brand does not work for your dog.
The human wears a canicross belt that is very similar to a climbing belt. DogPoweredFun owns several different types and will find one that suits you. There are essentially two types of belts: Waist belts and hip belts. Hip belts are generally for faster, harder pulling dogs. My favorite hip belt is from Non-stop as well. For more details on equipment, please see our Gear page.
If your dog enjoys the canicross experience but is not a real powerhouse, a waist belt is probably your best option. These belts are easy to put on and adjust and have a great deal of cushioning for a comfortable run. Here is an example of a canicross waist belt:
Canicross makes running more fun (and faster and easier), my dogs love it and it forces me off the roads and onto the trails.
In canicross, the dog is taught to keep tension on the line as he/she runs on the flats and hills. When the dog approaches a hill, he/she must be taught to heel, otherwise the runner will likely hit the dirt. I have taught my dogs the command, “easy, back” which directs them to run next to me and slow down as we approach the hills.
It is important to remember that you must keep your dog cool by ensuring that he/she had ready access to water. During the warmer months, DogPoweredFun conducts all lessons along trails with access to a pond or stream about every half mile. Dogs are encouraged to take a dip or a few gulps of water at every opportunity.
If you don’t like to run, then cani-hiking may be a better alternative for you. Regardless of your preference, DogPoweredFun will work with you and your dog to get him or her out in front pulling at the speed and strength that you desire.
In the UK and in Italy, Canicross is also a social event! People of every walk of life gather on a Saturday or Sunday morning for a race or run through a local park or trail. There are even organizations who visit shelters and volunteer their time to take shelter dogs out for a run to burn off excess energy.
Once your dog is trained in canicross, you can begin to explore scootering or bikejoring with your dog. DogPoweredFun will be happy to help athletes and dogs advance to bikejoring or scootering once you become a confident, competent canicross team.
Check out the video below to see a great summary of everything that is wonderful about this emerging sport!