Running with your dog is a great way to get back to nature, bond with your dog, and get fit. The dog sport known as canicross is a sport that is becoming increasingly popular.
The first time you try to run a dog, a lot of information can be recorded at once. This beginner’s guide will introduce you to the world of canicross and give you all the information you need to get started.
Which breeds are good for canicross?
The nice thing about canicross is that any dog can participate. Any dog - even small breeds – can participate provided they are in good physical condition and enjoy running.
There are some requirements for this: The dog in question must be over a year old and ideally fully grown. This is to prevent the joints from being unnecessarily stressed while the growth plates are still forming.
Likewise, your dog must not have any persistent health problems that could make walking uncomfortable for him. Taking your dog to your veterinarian on a regular basis is the best way to keep your pup healthy.
In general, hunting dog breeds such as Labradors, Spaniels, and Beagles are most commonly seen at canicross events. Sled dogs are also very common at these events, and are known for their endurance and pulling ability.
Like humans, dogs need their own sports equipment in order to run with their owners. Harnesses are constructed differently than everyday harnesses.
The pull point is much further back on the harness, which means that the dog can lean into the harness and pull you along. The dog has full freedom of movement in all four limbs and this is important in order to be able to walk properly. It is important that you properly train your dog to wear his harness as he must be completely comfortable in it.
It is not advisable to let your dog walk in a collar or head collar as this can put unnecessary pressure on the head and neck.
Many recommend a bungee leash or rope to connect to the harness. You’ll want something with a little stretch as your dog will pull regularly and any leash with a brittle fabric can tear after a few runs! You may also want to invest in a belt to carry both you and your dog’s gear, but also provide a connection point for the leash so you can focus on running.
If you run in areas that don’t have slippery, muddy trails, such as pebble beaches, slopes, or even tarmac, you may want to invest in boots for your dog. This is also important if you live in a colder area. Your dog can injure its paws from repeated contact with the cold floor. It is important that you take care that your dog is comfortable in it as he will have to walk in it!
Regardless of where you live, investing in a paw balm is important to help your dog calm his paws after a run. There are many brands online, but we recommend one with shea butter as this will help soothe and moisturize your dog’s paws.
A very common question asked is: will walking my dog in a harness encourage my dog to pull? Dogs are very intelligent beings and can tell the difference between a harness they wear on their walks and a harness they walk in In the different contexts of the two events (i.e. walking and running), your dog may learn to pull in one harness but not the other.
If you’re looking to teach your dog to walk with you, this is it teach several important pointers. While it is not advisable to start walking your dog before he is at least a year old, you can teach him his cues as soon as you like.
> Forward: Teaching your dog to move forward is an integral part of running with you. This is easiest to teach when you have a toy that will especially motivate your dog. Have your dog right in front of you in their running gear and throw their toys out of reach. As they tune into their harness to chase it, say your chosen keywords (e.g. let’s go!) And let them chase after their toys. If toys aren’t motivating them, you can have someone else call them or give them some goodies.
> Stop: Likewise, getting your dog to stop is an essential part of running! To teach a stop cue, place a broom on the floor and toss a treat over it. If your dog is running back towards you, once he gets to the handle, give him a treat. Repeat this several times before adding your chosen word (ex. Whoa!) Once it hits the broom. You can then start removing the broom and using your cue and reward to stop. Once your puppy has understood the exercise, you can begin practicing while in your canicross gear.
> Directional information: It is important that you can teach your dog which direction to go as your dog will lead the route. If you can, running with an already experienced dog is a great way to teach this, as a green dog will naturally follow an already experienced dog. If you don’t have another dog on hand, some of the things you can do is indicate the direction (e.g. left! Or right!) And then throw a treat in that direction so your dog can go and get it. As you play the game more and more, your dog will anticipate you and learn what these words mean.
> Run by: As with German Shepherds, it is important to have a clue that signals your dog to ignore distractions, such as: B. other dogs, a smelly droppings or a squirrel! Many owners do not teach a separate keyword for this behavior, but instead use their previously taught “Leave it!” Keyword in this context.
When starting out for the first time, it is not advisable to go very far. You want to work on both your own and your dog’s fitness and slowly build it over time.
It is important never to run in extreme weather. When out with your dog, you will often run in remote locations. It is therefore important to never run in extreme weather conditions such as low temperatures, strong winds, blizzards or thunderstorms. This is even more important in extreme heat because dogs cannot sweat as much as we do and very quickly overheat while running.
We do not recommend running your dog in temperatures well above 27 ° C. Beyond this temperature, the asphalt becomes too hot for a dog’s paws to walk on grass. It’s best to take your dog for a run early in the morning, as temperatures are between 24 ° C and 27 ° C and the asphalt has no chance to warm up yet.
Because dogs can overheat so easily, it is important to bring water for you and your dog and offer them water regularly. This is especially true on warmer days, but is important regardless of weather conditions.
Running your dog is a great way to get fit and spend quality time together. It can be a great way to hang out with your dog, exploring the wilder places near you. Canicross can also be a great way to network and make friends, as there are many more social events to attend.
Do you run with your dog Are you just getting started? Let us know your thoughts on Canicross at Lifestyle@thestar.com.my.