CaniCross is cross country running with your dog.
Your dog wears a harness and is attached to you by a line with bungee in it, and the runner wears a belt which fits around their hips. The sport started with mushers training their lead sled dogs when there was no snow.
Since then the sport has developed into a recreational and competitive sport. All abilities of humans and all types of dogs can participate.
Is my dog old enough to CaniCross?
If your dog is fully grown (at least 12 months old) has no known health issues and loves to run - then yes, they can CaniCross!
There is no upper age limit as long as your dog is fit and healthy.
Care should be taken with brachiocephalic breeds such as Bulldogs.
But if you're not sure please consult with your vet.
How do I start to CaniCross with my dog?
Firstly you need to teach your dog to be relaxed and happy in harness by making positive associations with it i.e. putting it on for short periods of time during a walk and giving them lots of praise.
Then you can start to teach your dog how to pull into harness>
What equipment do I need to CaniCross?
All you need is a good comfortable fitting harness for your dog, a bungee line and a waist belt.
You can find out how to fit a harness and more equipment guides here>
How do I look after my CaniCross dog?
It's important to warm up, hydrate, cool down your dog.
Dogs need time to adapt to the forces being placed on their bodies, so it's important to build up their training slowly.
Maintaining your dog's all round health will also keep them enjoying CaniSports for many years to come.
Find out more here>
How do I teach my dog to pull into harness?
Some dogs will naturally run into harness. But if your dog is unsure about being allowed to pull here's some tips on how to encourage them:
Roll a ball in front and treat reward
Run with a friend who is running very slightly in front, encouraging the dog to run along.
Or have your friend in harness and you run slightly in front
Run with a canicross group
Find an exciting trail such as a single track in a wooded area so the dog a clear defined path to follow
When your dog is pulling, put a verbal cue in such as 'yes', 'good boy/girl' or 'go go go' so that the dog associates that word with the feeling of pulling in harness.
Always reward your dog with verbal praise and attention so it's a positive experience.
It's important to give your dog clear voice cues. Here's some suggestions:
Gee - right
Haw - left
On by - ignore keep going
Hike on - use more pulling power to carry forward
Lets go - speeding up or starting to go
Steady - slow the pace
Whooa - stop
Stand/line out - stand still facing forward
You can start teaching these whilst out on a walk, so when your dog approaches a right turn, say the word 'Gee'. If they look back at you, put your right arm out as a directional cue. As soon as they have taken the corner, reinforce with either an 'ok' or 'good boy'.
The CaniCross racing season is usually Sept – May and most events have 1 or 2 dog classes. You can race with a multitude of breeds, just be sure to check the events race rules for eligibility.
Check the rules of the event before competing.
When waiting to start, give your dog plenty of space as it's a really exciting environment.
In open events, self seed and start nearer the back if you have a nervous dog - this will give them confidence.
When overtaking, call ahead, clearly indicating the side you are going to overtake on.
When being overtaken, move over to one side of the trail so they can pass easily. If necessary bring your dog into your side.
Be respectful of other competitors and the public.
Turns are marked in red and are placed on the side the turn is.
They are then followed by a blue confirmation marker. Blue markers also indicate straight on.
Yellow markers indicate a hazard on the trail.
NO ROW marker means no right of way for overtaking teams. You are nearing the finish.