Thursday, May 31, 2012

Canicross - Head Cross Country with Man’s Best Friend!

By Suzanne Alicie

I know that our lovely editor Julia only assigned this title to me because I’m known to want to try the things I write about. Well, surprise! I’m not giving Canicross a shot… although for an athletic person and a well behaved dog it could be a fun activity. My dog Bear has ‘ADD of the nose’ and just a normal walk around the block means me racing along behind her frantically as she runs back and forth following scents. Harness or not, I definitely won’t be trying Canicross with her!

Canicross is the sport of harnessing your dog and running or walking cross country. It’s similar to the sport of Skijoring which I’ve thoroughly explored here before. How is Canicross different, you may wonder, from simply taking a walk? Consider the actual idea of cross country walking or running – it’s a test of your endurance and stamina, strength and coordination to be able to travel long distances. Now think about heading up a large hill while you’re walking or running cross country. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a partner harnessed in front of you to give you a little bit of a pull?

Harnessing your dog for Canicross is much like harnessing him to a sled for pulling power. When you run or walk cross country with your dog you have a partner, a bit of extra strength. It also strengthens your bond with your dog to learn to work together as a team to get where you are going. Canicross does require that your dog learns to keep tension on the line while traveling at a speed that is comfortable for you. Your dog needs to be accustomed to a halter and to having some weight on the harness in order to learn the restraint and pace of Canicross.

Canicross hasn’t yet caught on quite as much in the United States as it has in Europe, where they have competitions and organizations for the sport. If you have tried and enjoyed Skijoring with your dog, then Canicross may just be the next logical step. Dogs that are trained for one of these sports can easily adapt to the other. Let the weather and the season decide which sport you will enjoy when!

Canicross is best with a single dog. Whereas many times Skijoring and Sledding involve a team of dogs, with Canicross you and your dog form the team. A healthy dog that has endurance and conditioning will do best with Canicross, and it’s up to you as the responsible pet owner to make sure your dog is ready. A healthy diet of CANIDAE natural dog food, treats to reward him when he performs well, plenty of rest, and patient training are all part of making your dog the best Canicross partner you could have.

Our dogs are part of our lives, why wouldn’t we include them in our fitness and hobbies as well? If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you may want to give Canicross a try. Personally, I’ll just walk my middle aged self to the middle of the back yard, throw a tennis ball and let Bear do all the running!

Photo: Racheal Bailey of Akna K9 Academy

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie


  1. I've never heard of Skijoring before. Canicross is a great way of keeping fit.

  2. Now that looks exhausting and probably would get you in shape if you weren't already in shape. It does look like fun. Never heard of this before. Thanks for the info.

  3. Oh you know we sibes would just love Canicross - now if only we had a willing human:)

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  4. Hmmm.... we cats have something called TunaSofa. It's where the humans get exercise by running from the kitchen to the sofa with tuna for us!


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