Are you a dog lover? Are you keen to try trail running with your four-legged friend? Then why not consider Canicross?
Canicross is a hugely popular and growing sport that allows runners to take part in races and events with their dogs. It was first introduced to the UK in 2000, and now thousands of runners and their pets are enjoying off-road running together.
Run Mummy Run member Chell has become a keen Canicrosser, and wanted to explain to us why she enjoys it.
Getting into Canicross
I love Canicross. Running with my dog, Luna, is brilliant. As a Husky, it was what she was born to do. I currently have three rescue dogs: two Huskies and a Staffie. All of them are over 18 months old, so are old enough to run as their growth plates are fully formed.
My Staffie loves a little run, but nothing more than three miles. My male Husky is too strong for Canicross and will be Bikejored by my husband, but Luna and I have run together since she was fit and well enough. She had been severely mistreated and suffered starvation when her previous owners moved out and left her behind. Luna and I have an amazing bond, we are even closer because of our running.
The right gear
When I run with Luna I wear special Canicross gear. It’s the safest way to run with your dog. My Non-Stop belt takes the strain and pressure off my back and distributes it over my hips. The bungee lead takes away the sharp pulls for both of us. Luna’s harness is a pulling type; these are specifically designed to take pressure off the wrong parts of your dog’s anatomy.
If you’re planning to try running with your dog, it’s imperative you have the correct equipment. If you run with a normal lead and collar, a Halti or a non-pull harness, you can cause your dog injuries. There are plenty of second-hand sales sites and Facebook Groups for Canicross, so you can pick up decent gear for not too much cost. There are also many local Canicross groups who will be happy to offer help and advice.
Consider trail running
When you decide to run with your dog, it’s better to consider the trails. Off-road running is much kinder on your dog’s joints. In fact, Canicross was named by combining ‘Canine’ and ‘Cross Country’. On the odd occasion I do run on roads or harder ground with Luna, I cover her paws with a product called Mushers Secret to protect her paws. I always make sure I carry it along with water for her during our runs. Water is very important even on short routes and in cool conditions. I never run with her when it’s warm, as heatstroke can be a real danger.
Canicrossing is an amazing experience. It’s a brilliant way to spend time with your dog and enjoy something together. My dogs genuinely love it – as a passionate animal lover I would never participate in anything that I wasn’t sure they really enjoyed and wanted to do.
Getting the right balance of exercise is really important for a dog’s health. Use this hand Daily Exercise Calculator to work out how much exercise your dog needs each day.