There's no better way to motivate yourself to do sport than to do it with your dog! Dog sports not only keep you and your dog fit, but also help you to develop a great bond! One of the most popular dog sports (link to: https://hellojack.eu/blogs/journal/what-sport-to-practice-with-your-dog-canine-sports) is called canicross. Let us introduce you to it!
What is canicross?
Canicross is one of the endurance dog sports. It is a variant of running in which you are pulled by your dog (or dogs if you have several). It was invented by mushers in order to continue training their sled dogs during the summer season.
Canicross is a real team sport. You and your dog have to find a pace that suits you both because you are connected by a device called a line.
Canicross can be practiced as an amateur or in competition. Many dog clubs offer canicross training, you can find out more at the Fédération des Sports et Loisirs Canins (external link to: https://www.fslc-canicross.net/).
Who can practice canicross?
Canicross can be practised by almost anyone. It is indeed one of the most accessible dog sports, and it has the advantage that it can be practiced without going to a dog centre.
From the owner's point of view, anyone in good health can start canicross. If you are not a great sportsman, we advise you to consult your doctor before practicing.
All adult dogs can run, with a few exceptions. Puppies that are not fully grown, sick, obese or elderly dogs should not be allowed to participate in this sport. Also, not all breeds of dogs are suitable for this kind of physical activity. This is the case with short-legged or flat-nosed breeds (brachycephalic).
We recommend that you have your four-legged friend examined by your vet before starting canicross.
What equipment is needed for canicross?
Canicross is a traction sport, and it puts a lot of strain on the joints of both the handler and the dog. The use of suitable equipment is therefore necessary to limit the risk of falls and injuries.
For your pet you will need :
- a dog traction harness: generally in the shape of an X, it wraps the dog's back along its entire length. This type of harness allows the load to be distributed evenly, without impeding movement or breathing. It should be well adapted to the size of the dog. Under no circumstances should you practice canicross with a collar!
- an elastic leash with a shock absorber (line): this leash protects your back from the jolts your dog might give. It makes the race much more comfortable for both of you. This leash should not be longer than 2 metres.
- A lotion to tan the pads or boots: during a canicross session, your dog's pads can be put to a severe test! Anticipate this by regularly applying a lotion that will strengthen his pads. If this is not enough, you can opt for boots. Your dog must be used to wearing them to be able to run in them.
The equipment you need:
- A belt or harness: this not only allows you to have your hands free to run, but also makes it easier to slow down if you need to (when running downhill for example). If you are running with several furry people, a harness is recommended as it allows you to control your pack even more easily.
- Appropriate clothing and good running or trail shoes: choose your trainers according to the terrain you are running on.
For you and your dog:
- snacks and treats for the dogs if you are running for a long time to refuel
- a first aid kit in case of injuries.
How to practice canicross?
A canicross session should always start with a warm-up for you and your dog. Also, when the race is over, plan a cool-down phase.
IfE you plan to run with your dog but he is too young, you can start by teaching your puppy some commands (forward/stop/left/right) and run with him, but without pulling.
To start canicross, start with fast walking and gradually increase the time and speed. Always bear in mind that your dog will not show signs of fatigue, he will follow you until he is exhausted. It is up to you to be vigilant.
We do not recommend canicrossing in high temperatures, as your dog (and you) may get heat stroke.
Finally, in order to support your dog's joints, which are put under a lot of strain during this type of sport, the use of a food supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin is particularly recommended.
Now you know everything about canicross and are ready to start this dog sport if you and your dog meet all the requirements. If you have any further questions about this sport, please feel free to ask them in the comments!