What is Canicross?

So you’ll read a lot about one particular activity on this blog: canicross.

A lot of people don’t know what this activity is. I posted a running picture on my Instagram account a few weeks ago, and I mentioned canicross. I got some people asking me what it is, so I will try to explain it here the best I can.

First, let me tell you that there is a lot of activities you can practise with your active dog: dog sledding, drylands mushing, dog sulky, bikejoring, dog scootering, canicross, …

Basically, all those activities are for lazy humans who want to make you work for them and pull them. Or they just want to tire you up so you are less annoying later… Just kidding, all those activities are great bonding activities, and an awesome way to get some exercise for us dogs, so we can enjoy more treats after that!

Now let’s talk about canicross.

Canicross is cross country running with dogs. It came from Europe as off-season training for mushing/sledding, and became more popular over the years.

Canicross is great for both humans and dogs.

It is more common on trails, but I know some people who practise canicross in cities as well. It all depends on your human and how you train them! A lot of breeds can practise canicross. You don’t have to be a sledding breed. Small breeds like Jack Russell can also practise it for example. The only thing you need is to love running – which if you follow me on Instagram you know I do love. Then it comes with training. Just like your humans won’t run a marathon in two days, they have to understand you will need some training too.

Canicross is great on many points. First, it is a great way to get some exercise, for both you and your human. If your human spends most of his days laying on the couch and watching Netflix, that’s a great motivation to go run with you. You will be a great running partner and push them to got outside and run with you.

Canicross requires a lot of communication, so it is a great bonding activity. As you might get lost together, and you will sweat together, you have to communicate and enjoy this moment together. Communication is key so that your human doesn’t step on you! You’ll have to both learn the new commands for directions, and how to adjust your speed to run together.

Canicross also requires some specific equipment. I’ll explain it more in details later in a future blog post. But basically, you will need a specific harness, that will spread the pulling strengths on every part of your body and not just your neck or chest. Your human will need a specific belt, to be able to run hand free. This canicross belt will also prevent any back pain. Then, the last specific equipment you will need is an elastic leash, called bungee leash, so that the pulling strength is spread between the two of you.

So now you have a better understanding of what is canicross, why it is such an awesome activity to practise with your human, and why I am so excited to start it soon.

Officially, you have to wait until the dog is between 12-18 months to start running, to make sure the growth is over and it won’t damage the joints. You won’t be able to enter any official race before that age. However, most people start a bit earlier, depending on how your pup is doing. My pawrents had me on trails for hikes pretty early so I’m pretty good now. So we will start slowly and work on the commands pretty soon. I can’t wait!!

8 comments

  1. So are you supposed to pull the human along or are you supposed to run together? That’s where I’m often confused. LOL How do I differentiate it from regular running with the dog?

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    • Hi!! I would say that running with the dog is when the dog is off leash running with you, where canicross would be the dog wearing a pulling harness and leashed to you with a bungee leash. The idea is to have the dog pulling in front of you, just like mushing or bikejoring 🙂

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      • Thanks for the explanation! Will there be incidents where you fall because the dog is running too fast and pulling you along with this set up? Does the equipment prevent that? I guess it will be difficult in the city with the human and vehicular traffic around 🙂

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      • I actually don’t know yet as we are just starting. I guess incidents like that may happen, it will be part of the training to communicate with the dog and avoid that kind of incident. I guess I’ll let you know in a few weeks!

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