Canicross is the fast growing sport of off-road hands-free running with your dog.
Not only is it the most fun way for you and your dog to get fit, the two of you will build a special bond that really is unparalleled.
Canicross is the most fun way for you and your dog to get fit - the two of you will build a special bond that really is unparalleled. It is also the safest way to enjoy running with your dog – by using specially designed, technical equipment that allows you to run naturally by being hands-free and for your dog to run comfortably and efficiently.
Perhaps most importantly, you don't have to be super fit or even a runner to enjoy canicross. The beauty of the equipment is that you can simply power walk with your dog (a term referred to as 'Canitrekking') if you are not quite yet ready to run and just want to build up slowly.
Canicross originated in Europe as invaluable training for the mushing (dog sledding) community during off season months. It is very similar to skijoring, where people ski with their dog pulling out in front of them, and bikejoring, where people cycle off-road with their dog pulling in front.
What kit do I need?
The canicross kit is very straightforward and designed especially for the sport. The owner wears a running belt, the dog wears a harness and both are attached to each other via a bungee line. So, very little equipment is required to get started.
The lightweight human running belt is designed to sit on the person's hips/top of their bottom. It comes with fixed, adjustable leg straps. As a result, any pull from the dog will come through the hips guaranteeing comfort and ensuring there is no nasty jarring to the back.
The dog must wear a specially designed and properly fitted canicross harness. Just like the person's belt, the dog's harness is built for comfort and efficiency. To ensure you get the right fit, please refer to the sizing guides on our product pages, or we can help you with our Personal Canicross Kit Questionnaire, which you can find here.
The bungee running line attaches the two of you to each other; one end should be attached to your belt and the other to your dog's harness. It is a very important piece of equipment as it helps absorb any shock from the pull of your dog, so you get a nice, comfortable pull. The idea is that you run together with your dog leading the way in front.
Canicross is more than just running with your dog. As well as providing the perfect way to exercise and bond with your dog, it is ideal for dogs with high energy levels, behavioural issues or that simply cannot be let off the lead for whatever reason. We have many customers with rescue dogs who have found this to be an invaluable way to socialise their dogs - not only do they benefit from running with other dogs in a pack but they quickly pick up verbal commands, and this all speeds up that special relationship they have with their new owner.
Canicross also has a profound effect on our customers' own lives. For many it has helped with their mental well-being as well as physical health - being part of a social group of like-mined people helps motivate them and offers incredible support. You can read more about the special connection people have with canicross via our popular My Story series. These are real people talking about their personal experiences.
Are two dogs better than one?
If you are up for the challenge, you can run with more than one dog attached - depending on their size (and yours), two dogs are often perfectly manageable.
The best thing of all about canicross is that you don’t have to be an experienced runner to enjoy the sport. It’s suited for people and dogs of all ages and abilities - though we do advise that your canine buddy is fully grown (so at least 12 months of age) as growth plates in the legs especially are still forming and too much stress can lead to complications later in life. If in any doubt, please seek guidance from your vet.
When you do hit the trails, stick to a pace and distance you and your dog are comfortable with and then increase mileage and intensity as you build your confidence and fitness.
Can any breed of dog take part?
There is no preferred breed of dog for canicross. All types of breeds, large and small, are a actively taking part and enjoying the health and social benefits it brings. It’s not unusual to see people running with their little Terriers and Dachshunds as well Labs, Vizslas, Staffies and Huskies. You may just need to vary the distance, intensity of your runs and take into consideration the weather conditions and terrain.
If you want some support to help you get started or simply to develop your technique and/or fitness, we offer DogFit approved canicross classes across the UK that are run by qualified Trainers. These range from complete beginner to intermediate sessions so there is something for everyone, and their number one priority is to help you enjoy the sport in a social and fun environment.
Don't forget to check out our blog for all the latest news and tips to help you get the most out of your canicross adventures.
Check out why Coco enjoys canicross so much below!