Canicross is running with our dog attached to us by means of a harness, a cushioned or elastic throw line and a belt.
Being part of the organization of a canicross I received many inquiries from people in my city or people with whom I agree in the pipican, What is Canicross? and how to get started in this sport. Note that it is still a very unknown sport. Many are lovers of their dogs, who play sports and had not planned to practice what they call canicross. From here I got the idea of making this post.
In fact, a few years ago I had no idea what this sport was, I was a runner on mountain trails and with the adoption of our first dog a new member joined the training sessions. This is how little by little and with the intention of being able to share races with our Fox we began to investigate a little found the Canicross.
What is Canicross?
Canicross is a sport that consists of running together with our dog. For this, our canine companion is attached to us by means of a harness, a cushioned or elastic shooting line and we a belt. Canicross is usually practiced on a soft surface, mainly on land, although it can also be run on snow.
Canicross is a sport derived from mushing. Mushing was originally a form of transport in the Nordic countries that used dogs to pull a sled to move on snowy or icy surfaces.
Canicross originated in Europe as a way to train outside the winter season, becoming very popular in the UK and other areas of Europe.
Subsequently, other modalities or variations have been added:
- Bikejoring ➡ One person is riding a bicycle and one or two dogs are running in front.
- Scootering ➡ The person rides a specific scooter and one or two dogs run in front
- Skijoring ➡ The runner goes with cross-country skis (skater mode) and the dogs run in front (in some countries they also do it with horses)
Canicross is consolidating in our country. It is also characterized by being a healthy, fun sport that provides multiple benefits for the person as well as for the dog.
The canicrros is one of the best ways to create and strengthen the bond with our pet. It also allows us to enjoy nature and run together with our dog, forming a team.
If you have never tried Canicross and you are also a nature lover, I invite you to do so. It is a completely different and positive sport. It also helps us share our free time with our pet.
Playing sports is always beneficial for us, as well as for our pet. These are some of the benefits of practicing canicross with our dog:
- The fun: Running is an increasingly fashionable sport that many people practice. What better way than to share this great hobby and fun with our dog. Dogs generally love to run, what better way than to do it with your company!
- Improve health: It is known that all physical activity is beneficial for the health, both ours and that of our dog. Among many other benefits is stress reduction. When we do sports we secrete a lot of hormones responsible for producing a feeling of well-being: such as dopamine, endorphin, etc.
- The emotional bond: For me one of the most beautiful things in canicross. You reinforce that bond of friendship and trust with your dog. When practicing canicross with him, the friendship is strengthened and a complicity between the two is created that is difficult to describe.
- The company: Running accompanied is always much better than doing it alone. What better company than our dog!
- Discover nature: As we have mentioned before, practicing outdoor sports allows us to know new and fantastic places.
- Discipline: running helps us to establish a training routine, but also, canicross makes our dog socialize and learn new commands and obedience. With the practice of canicross and what our dog enjoys while running, it makes it easier for us to teach new commands. The positive reinforcement that the dog can have while practicing canicross to learn new commands is spectacular. Something that surprised me personally in the beginning was the ease with which he learned the commands to go slower, run more, turn left or right with a single sound or whistle.
Can all dogs practice canicross?
Practically any dog with good physical and health conditions is suitable for practicing canicross.
The canicross It is included in the Royal Spanish Federation of Winter Sports. Its rules establish that in Dogs of any breed can participate in its competitions, as long as:
- They are in the appropriate physical conditions.
- All the veterinary checks.
- Have implanted the required microchip.
- Have minimum one year of age and a maximum of 10.
Breeds to practice canicross
It is true that due to physiological characteristics there are more appropriate breeds and they yield more than others. Race plays a fundamental role.
As you will have seen in the post DOG ABANDONMENT / URA ADOPTION, the two dogs that I have are adopted, like the two dogs that I had previously: Fox and Kina.
My philosophy of sport and that I want to capture in each entry of this blog is the following: Sport is to enjoy, keep fit, improve ourselves personally both physically and mentally, as well as knowing and sharing different sports with wonderful people who let's get to know.
Following this philosophy, all the dogs with which I have participated in canicross have been adopted, regardless of their physical performance. At the moment I have had to train harder and try harder than my dogs.
Even so, it is undeniable that there are some physical characteristics of each race that we cannot ignore. A Chihuahua is not the same as a German Shepherd.
The usual choice that can be observed in canicross is the choice of a medium-large breed (20-30 kgs) because in this way the dog has the physical ability to pull hard on us.
We have to emphasize that there is a current of people, including myself, that we make the choice precisely the other way around, opt for small breeds. in my case the hounds They are physically small dogs (Read 6 kgs ago). However, she is the dog that has surprised me the most, due to her physique she is a dog capable of run at your best without exhausting or slowing down from start to finish. As I have mentioned before, the margin for improvement to practice this sport lies in my rhythm and running technique and not in that of the dog.
Breeds excluded for canicross
To everything seen above, there is an exception that for me is insurmountable and restricts the practice of canicross to certain races:
Snub-nosed dogs are not recommended for canicross.. This point is very important, since these types of breeds (French bulldogs, Boston terriers, etc.) usually have respiratory problems and generally experience what is known as brachiocephalic syndrome, greatly damaging your respiratory system. Therefore, it is a limitation that goes beyond the race, it is an insurmountable physical condition for sports practice.
Necessary material to get started in Canicross
In canicross we cannot use any material, for the comfort and safety of both our dog and ourselves.
Below I show you the appropriate material for the practice of Canicross
Harness for the dog.
The walking harnesses do not work. It has to be a specific canicross harness. The main peculiarity is that they hold the dog vertically by its chest, that is, from the neck towards the belly, being able to exert force on the entire chest and allowing the full extension of the legs (those for walking hold laterally, preventing this movement and may cause injury)
The harness cannot be made with abrasive material or that can cause cuts, it also has to have slightly padded areas for greater protection.
At the end of the harness there will be a small rope to connect the elastic throw line.
Canicross belt, is the belt for the athlete's waist. It must be wide and comfortable for the wearer and allow the canicross line to be attached by means of a quick release carabiner (this carabiner may be mandatory in many canicross races)
The canicross belt does not have to be approved or be any specific model. Any belt that fulfills these functions is valid. Despite this, specific canicross material is totally recommended, especially if we have a large breed dog that the force it can exert when stretching is high.
Elastic throw line
In canicross you cannot use a normal rope. A specific one is required. With the canicross line we can tie the belt to our dog.
The shooting line has to have an elastic part so that it acts as a cushion and can absorb the impacts or tyrants that the dog can make. Avoiding injuries to both the runner and the dog. The length of the line as a general rule is usually between 2 and 2.5 meters.
In my case, running with Lea (6 kg podenco) is better for me to do it with a 1.5 meter one, being a small dog, if the line is longer it has a “sag” effect, oscillating from top to bottom causing discomfort from Lea to to run.
With Ura I have no problem running with a longer shooting line. In any case, we will have to review the regulations of the race that we want to participate in, since there is a diversity of regulations and in some they allow shorter firing lines than others. As I mentioned before, the "standard" usually walks between 2 and 2.5 meters.
How to get started in Canicross
The first rule, in addition to being the golden rule: Respect for the dog. It seems like something of the most logical and common sense, but more than one situation I have seen an owner frustrated by the performance of the dog by paying it with him. This sport is team sport, and half of this team is our dog.
There can be no abusive behavior towards our animal.
It will be convenient that both we and the dog are in good health. It will be important that we have a medical examination and our dog a review with the veterinarian. As we have already mentioned before, the age of the dog must be taken into account, a young dog will not have the same energy as an older one. Dogs over one year old can run canicross.
We, like our dogs, need an adaptation to sport. If some of the two are a bit sedentary, you have to make a progressive adaptation. This means: Start training little by little.
It is important to know that dogs are animals that have devotion to us and do not speak. So if we run, our dogs will follow us to exhaustion. If we are not attentive to the physical signals of our dog and we do not make a correct adaptation, it can happen that the dog reaches physical exhaustion that is detrimental to its health.
Maintain a positive motivation
The first outings may be that our dog does not show great interest or gets tired right away. It is extremely important to adapt training to this situation and maintain a super positive attitude towards our dog at all times. Over time you will improve both your fitness and your motivation.
There are dogs that undeniably have the instinct to stretch with the harness. In my case, both Fox and Ura now have not had to teach them to stretch, it is putting the harness on, noticing the sensation it offers them and they just start stretching without stopping. In fact I have to work to slow them down a bit and dose them.
However the two little dogs, Kina in her day, and now Lea the first few times had no interest in running with the harness. Which was changing with patience and adaptation. Finally they learned to stretch, they were motivated and by running with them they showed great motivation and complicity.
It can also help us to get used to our dog to go out with people in the area who practice Canicross, it is incredible how some dogs motivate others to run.
Important factor: Temperature.
To practice Canicross you have to pay special attention to temperature. At more than 20º we have to avoid practicing Canicross. The regulations of the races stipulate the cancellation of the event from this temperature. The different federations have scales that limit the distances of the canicross according to the temperature. To practice Canicross in a non-competitive way it is not necessary to consult these tables, but be very aware that high temperatures can be fatal for them,.
Some dogs suffer more from temperatures than others. Lea, my little hound supports the heat very well. However, we will have to be attentive at all times to their symptoms and if we hesitate due to high temperatures, take a walk instead of practicing Canicross.
For this reason, most canicross races are concentrated from fall to winter.
It is part of the process, progressively adapt as we mentioned before. For this reason we will check the pads and nails before and after each outing. It is usual that if the dog is not used to it, it has the skin of the soft and not very resistant pads. If during training we observe that the dog is limping, we will stop immediately and check it.
The type of terrain that we will use to train will be soft, dirt roads, mountains or grass. We will avoid asphalt to the maximum.
I want to emphasize the temperature and terrain factor. More than once I have seen people taking their dogs on asphalt in summer. Veterinarians are sure to get more than one consultation with dogs that have literally run out of pads for this fact. So we repeat high temperatures prohibited and asphalt prohibited.