Canicross – running with your dog

Get fit and have fun!

Sam and Pacha

Sam and her 11 year-old collie Pacha, have been doing Canicross for around 4 years. She says the thing she enjoys most about Canicross is the fact you and your dog are both getting exercise out in the fresh air, it’s very sociable and it is not expensive. Most clubs are around £15 a year to join and the organised runs are led by volunteers.

Sam says “We got into Canicross as I booked my wedding and decided I wanted to get fit, so I took up running. Pacha regularly came for a run with me and it worked well as it meant that we were both getting great exercise. I then saw an advert for ‘Ashridge Canicrossers’ and thought it sounded perfect.”

Getting started

Most clubs will lend you equipment to borrow at club runs so you can find a good harness fit and size for both you and your dog before you purchase any. You will need:

  • a running harness for your dog
  • a bungee line to attach you to your dog
  • a belt harness for yourself
  • a good pair of trail running shoes with grip for the mud
  • most people use a running rucksack to carry water and supplies.

Organised runs are twice weekly at Sam’s club, but its completely personal choice how often/little you go. She says she generally tries to get out twice a week, whether that’s club runs or running from home.

Who sets the rules?

The Kennel Club are the governing body and a full list of rules and regulations can be found on their website. As a general rule dogs must be at least 12 months of age to start Canicross and 18 months of age to compete in Canicross races of 5km (3 miles) or more.

Sam and Pacha

There are many competitions for Canicross run all over the country. These mainly take place during Autumn/Winter months (September to April) as the weather is generally just too warm/humid to run the dogs during the summer months.

Can anyone do it?

Sam says “I have seen every sort of dog do Canicross. Obviously some breeds are better/faster than others! But if you’re looking to both have fun and get fit you really can do it with any dog.

The only reason that someone may not enjoy this activity is if you are not into running. However, there are staggered speed groups so you are urged to give it a try. Oh, and if you don’t like getting dirty it might not be for you, as it is very muddy a lot of the time!

It can be muddy!

If your dog doesn’t pull or you’re worried it may not, then you are advised to go near the back of the group. They soon get the idea to run ahead, especially with the excitement of following the other dogs.

The groups are usually between 4-8 people in size so as you can imagine it gets very loud and exiting! Some dogs do take a couple of attempts to really get the hang of hit, but most get it and love it after a couple of goes!

Top tips?

Sam says “It’s good to teach them basic commands e.g go, stop, left, right so you can navigate your dog around the trails safely without tripping you up.

“There’s always going to be be the odd accident, as I learnt just as we set off on a run. Pacha was in full flight, then in a split second decided to stop for the toilet right in front of me. Before I knew it I was face down in a pile of leaves! A quick dust off of the hands and knees and we were on our way again.” 

Thank you very much to Sam and Pacha for this valuable insight!

Ask for help?

You are very welcome to contact me to ask for my advice.  I can help you with a variety of issues and problems around getting a dog and suggestions for tackling training issues.  Go to the Dog Doc blog for more help with training issues.

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