Canicross: keeping fit and creating a close relationship
Canicross: keeping fit and creating a close relationship
Doing Canicross with your dog doesn't mean going jogging. All you need is the right training for you and your dog and the right gear.

Including a dog in your family unit also means embracing a more active lifestyle, from simple walks every day (which can however always include quality experiences) to games for two that stimulate your dog's needs. If you love running and your dog has strong kinaesthetic motivation (or movement) Canicross could be really fun for both you and your dog, but you need the correct preparation and most particularly the correct equipment.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CANICROSS

Canicross is an activity that works on your dog's well-being from all angles: it helps him to take charge of his motility and management, regulate his emotions, widen his proximal level of experience (i.e. all the experiences that the dog has), increases his self-esteem and, most particularly, increases his interaction with his human companion. This is why you need to have built up at least some running endurance before starting Canicross with your four-legged friend; because when you compare humans and dogs, we are at a disadvantage because the dog has greater endurance than we do. 


Having said that, any dog, except those with physical complications, can do Canicross, but the activity must be carried out with the correct equipment to prevent accidents for either party.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO GET STARTED?

The Canicross belt goes around the waist and is connected to a bungee line. This belt, designed specifically for this discipline, has a padded section that protects the back from excessive strain, especially if the dog accelerates strongly while running. The bungee line is a line with an elasticated part that acts as a cushion so the dog does not hurt his back either. The other fundamental element is the harness: regular harnesses on the market are not suitable, ones for sled-dogs or specific H harnesses are better, but these must also have padding to prevent your dog hurting himself due to rubbing or pulling. Opt for dirt tracks, or use appropriate booties on asphalt to protect your dog's paw pads.

START DOING CANICROSS

Firstly you must teach your dog that he's about to do something fun, so that he doesn't see it as an everyday walk, but as a new activity to be done together with his owner, and that he will have to do lots of different things that he doesn't do on a walk. During a Canicross session, your dog will not be able to stop to mark his territory and will have to learn to run in front of you, without changing direction at all.
 

You can start by running short distances, then gradually increasing the length of the run and using the same techniques that are used in basic training to establish correct behaviour (positive reinforcement, clicker). 

An additional aid could be planning sessions with dogs that already have a lof of Canicross experience. However, you should always bear in mind that before starting out, it is essential to check with your vet that your dog has the ideal level of physical fitness to begin this activity; choose the right environment (an urban environment, with all of its stimuli, would not be suitable), in the ideal climate (never in very high temperatures) and as mentioned, using the correct equipment.
 

Food is also essential: choosing a comprehensive, balanced diet, with high-quality ingredients, is important because it means the dog will have enough energy.

Starting an activity like this will strengthen the bond with your dog even more, and will definitely be fun for both of you!