Canicross is a sport which involves hands-free running cross country with your dog. It is a great way to build a bond with your dog whilst working on both of your fitness. Here’s a quick guide to get you started!
Verbal cues help you to communicate with your dog whilst running. These can be introduced to your dog during your walks, even before you start to pick up the pace. Here are some of the common commands used during Canicross.
Dog harness: Good harness fit is essential to prevent injury. Harnesses should fit snugly enough to stop rotation but loose enough not to cause irritation. Ideally, the shoulder and elbow must have the room to move freely without restriction. What works for one dog may not suit another. For example, long backed harnesses may not be good for beginners as they can be easy for the dog to back out of and escape from.
Running belt: This is a belt that sits around your waist that will attach to the dog via a bungee line. There are loads of options to choose from and preference will vary from person to person.
Bungee line: This is the line that runs from the dog’s harness and attaches onto the runner’s belt. They are elastic for shock absorption to prevent injury.
Trail shoes: These aren’t a necessity at first but you’ll quickly learn that comfy trainers with good grip will prevent a lot of muddy bums.
Water: It is so important to keep yourself and your dog hydrated so don’t forget your water, even if you leave it in your car for before and after the run.
If you’re lucky enough, your dog may naturally pull into the harness. However, if they don’t then it’s best to get a friend or a member of a local Canicross group to run ahead of you, encouraging the dog to pull forward.
Before taking up any new sport you should consult with your own doctor and your dog’s vet. For any advice, you can contact your local veterinary physiotherapist or join a local Canicross group.
Meet: Stevie Tucker
Veterinary Physiotherapist, Member of the National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists
I completed my Masters in Veterinary Physiotherapy at Writtle University College earlier this year and I now run Tails & Trails Veterinary Physiotherapy in North Kent. Although I work with all species, I have a particular interest in sporting dogs and harness fit. If you have any questions about Canicross or physiotherapy, then feel free to contact me.
To find out more follow Stevie on Facebook and Instagram @tailstrailsvetphysio