CANICROSS & CANITREK
What is canicross and canitrek?
Canicross is cross-country running with you dog and canitrek is cross-country power-walking with your dog! This relatively new and exciting sport originated from northern Europe, when mushers would need to train and keep their dogs fit during the mushing off-season (mushing is dog sledging) and it's since proven very popular because it's so much fun! Specially designed equipment, allows you to run safely and naturally, hands free. Both runner and dog wear harnesses which are connected via a bungee type leash. This bungee reduces the pulling shock when the dog pulls forward ahead of the runner, so allows both to run together comfortably. The theory is that the dog pulls the runner forwards through the hips so helping to accelerate the pace! Whilst in practice some dogs may be suited better to pulling than others, you may well start out jogging, or even walking, along side each other to begin with, leaving the pulling element as something you both work towards gradually!
This sport has become so popular that there are now many opportunities to compete both nationally and internationally if you wish, in races which vary in distance from 5k upwards.
What breeds of dog can canicross?
From labradors to terriers, most dogs can participate in canicross, but personality plays a huge part too, and whilst some dogs might be physically perfectly suited to this, it may just be your dog doesn't enjoy running as much as you do. This is why FidoFit! offers a variety of activities for you and your dog because canicross isn't for everyone; so it's important that you don't force your dog to do something he just doesn't enjoy.
It's also important to be aware that there are some breeds who aren't so well-suited to canicross. These include very small toy dogs, giant dogs and short-nosed dogs such as boxers and pugs. The toy dog breeds simply won't be able to keep up, and the giant breeds are prone to bone damage; whilst running flat out can actually be dangerous for the short-nosed breeds. This is why we always advise you check with your vet first before participating in canicross.
How fit does my dog need to be?
Any level of fitness is welcome to try canicross but as with any kind of new exercise, your dog will need to start slowly and build up gradually, just as you would, which is why the FidoFit! Couch to 5k is a perfect starting place for both of you. This course ensures that you build your fitness levels at the right pace for both of you and also teaches you all the essential canicross commands under the instruction of a properly qualified canicross trainer.
Is my dog too old or young to take part?
Another important consideration is age. Dogs under 12 months are still growing so are considered too young to participate. Equally, older dogs may be better suited to shorter runs or run-walk combos. As such some FidoFit! One-to-One Personal Training involving a variety of activities that can be adapted to the right level for you and your dog may be more suitable. Alternatively, one of our CaniTrek Adventures may be the way to go. Similar to canicross, canitrek is cross-country power-walking with your dog.
WHAT TO WEAR!
A canicross running belt which fits correctly on the hips (not around the waist!) preferably with pockets for doggy waste bags, keys and a phone, allowing you to run hands free
A well fitting canicross dog harness which is comfortable for your dog and allows him to pull in the correct way is advisable. A proper canicross harness will encourage your dog to pull correctly and not create problems for you when you're not canicrossing and need you dog to walk to heel!
A well made bungee leash which absorbs shock and is gentle on both your back as well as your dog's
Good trail running shoes suited to the type of terrain you'll running on.
Comfortable, lightweight and breathable running clothes ie t-shirt, jogging bottoms/leggings/shorts
Waterproof running jacket
Sun glasses if the sun's shining!
A hat (cap or woolly hat depending on weather)
If you wish to purchase any canicross kit, please talk to me and I will be able to advise you on what's best for your dog. As a certified DogFit Trainer, I am able to provide you with top of the range kit at discounted rates for FidoFit! clients, so please talk to me first before you purchase!