Canicross: a new favorite activity for you and your pup

I love getting outdoors with my dog – it’s good for both of us, both physically and mentally and is a great way to spend time together.  There are days when we both have a bit of excess energy to burn off and just going to the dog park isn’t quite enough exercise for either of us. So I’ve been looking at other options for exercising together.  One that looks particularly interesting to me is a sport that offers the athletic challenges of cross country running, but your dog comes along too  – it’s known as Canicross.

What is Canicross?

Canicross originated in Europe. It was a way to keep sled dogs fit during the summer.  It then evolved into a sport in its own right with competitions across Europe and is now becoming more popular in the US.  The human wears a waist belt and an elastic leash is attached from the belt to the dog. It’s a sport that suits complete beginners and professional athletes alike.

How do I get into Canicross?

In the US Canicross is sometimes called CaniXC and CaniX.  The organization Canicross USA is a great resource for information on the sport and for helping people connect with a local chapter – a full list of current chapters is available on the website. 

Pretty much any dog breed can participate in Canicross, but it’s highly recommended to check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is physically capable of this type of exercise.  Check with your own physician to make sure you’ve got the green light for this activity too.

Ideally, start out with walking using the waist belt and elastic leash and then gradually progress to jogging and then running when you are both at the right fitness level.

What gear do I need?

The waist belt and elastic leash combo are available from various suppliers such as Kurgo, Ruffwear and Alpine Outfitters. Trail shoes for the human team member are definitely recommended and are available from most good sports shoe manufacturers. To transport your dog comfortably and securely to a Canicross event, a pet barrier and trunk liner such as the Travall Guard and Travall Liner are advised.  The trunk mat helps keep your trunk’s interior clean after muddy runs and the perfect fit of the rattle-free pet barrier means your pup can sleep soundly on the way home.

If you’d like to freshen your exercise regime, why not see if there’s a Canicross chapter in your area?