You’ve heard about canicross and love the thought of trail running with your dog? Welcome to the club! It’s a great way to keep fit and to keep the motivation up for a run whatever the weather throws at you (I’m currently writing this in the midst of Storm Dennis!).
So…where to start?
The first place I’d start is to get yourself the appropriate kit to keep both you and your dog safe and comfortable on the trails. With canicross there are three essential pieces of kit and all come in at under the cost of a pair of trainers.
- Waistbelt for yourself
- Bungee line to attach to your belt and the dog’s harness
- A canicross specific harness for your dog
For a one-stop shop, I would totally recommend visiting the online store at DogFit, there are a plethora of kit items that you can look at but these guys can kit you out via an online form and have starter kits all ready for your adventures. If you start your canicross journey with us here at Let’s Go, through any of our classes or courses, you enjoy a discount for any purchase you make through DogFit.
PROGRESS SLOWLY AT FIRST.
Build up your running gradually, especially if you or your dog are new to the sport. As with any new sport, you will want to progress incrementally to avoid unnecessary injuries.
Following a plan or programme can really help you and your dog to build your experience and confidence. Start by cani-trekking in harness to help your dog understand the idea of pulling out in front, some need the help of having a pack leader to follow, which is where our taster sessions or our Canicross Couch to 5K program comes in.
Teach the basic commands that will keep you both safe! I do recommend having several short sessions where you work on getting the basic commands introduced. Whether it is a “steady”, a “let’s go” or a “left” or a “right”, it’s a good idea to get this introduced from the outset.
As with most training, dogs pick things up better when they are having fun, so make it a positive session for them. Keep your voice enthusiastic and give plenty of praise when they are getting it right.
MAKE IT SOCIAL.
Canicross sessions with a trainer or a social group can really help initially to build both your confidence in the kit and for your dog to understand the job they need to do. Canicross is a great social sport and makes for fun sessions for both you and your dog. The dogs love being part of a pack and we all know the benefits of being out with others when we are exercising.
Our sessions here in Bude focus on the social, fun element of the sport. We don’t always chase PB’s but we do chase a good sunset, rainbow or a beautiful vista. If you are keen to join us please contact me here.
You are responsible for putting the needs of your dog first. Common sense prevails here. Your dog’s health, fitness, age and breed need to be taken into consideration, if you are in any doubt then always consult your vet.
Ensure they haven’t just eaten. Running just after food can be fatal in dogs with the condition bloat. Leave a good 1-2 hours after a meal and leave it at least 30 mins – 1 hour after arriving back before feeding a full meal.
If the temperatures are rising, don’t risk taking them out where you won’t have shade or water stops. Overheating in dogs is well documented and they can’t tolerate high temperatures, especially when running in them.
This is an absolute essential part of the sport! Meet like-minded people, get out in the great outdoors and explore. Your dog will thank you for it too. Happy dog = happy owner.