What is Canicross?
Canicross is basically traveling (running or hiking) across country with your dog. More specifically, with your dog attached to you by harness, bungee-line and belt.
Why the harness, bungee and belt?
Canicross was originally developed as an alternative means of exercising sledding types such as the husky or malamute. Pulling a runner (i.e. helping the runner to go faster) provided a good alternative to pulling a sled.
Canicross is now becoming popular with all breeds. It’s not necessary to run – canicross hiking is great fun too! Whilst strictly speaking pulling is a key feature of canicross it’s not necessary for your dog to pull (some dogs just don’t want to) – and with certain breeds it’s perhaps not advisable.
Something for everyone
As Canicross has been popularised in the UK by canicross race organisers (primarily CaniX) ideas of what the sport is all about have become a little narrow. Here’s a nice article that will give you a little more background on Canicross. This article appeared in the December 2001 edition of Mushing Magazine (pre-canix) and was written by Mike Callahan.
There’s a huge amount of scope to adapt canicross to suit your dog, yourself and your circumstances and preferences. Most people run solo with canicross runs replacing some of the daily dog walks; some prefer to meet up with others and run as a group; some enter races (human and specialist dog races); others prefer to go truly cross country and explore remote and rugged forest and mountain trails. Distances covered vary from a couple of kilometers to ultra distances.
Very little training is needed – most dogs pick it up as they go along. However, if you enjoy training your dog there is tremendous scope for turning the sport into a discipline and creating a highly responsive little team.
Regardless, of how you choose to do canicross the belt, bungee and harness are fabulous kit for running, walking and hiking safely and comfortably with your dog.