If you’re thinking of trying out canicross with your furry friend(s), then here’s all you need to know to get started…
1. Do some research
It’s worth doing a little bit of reading before you embark on the sport – just so you know what’s involved, whether your dog is suitable and how to get started!
There is information on the internet if you know where to look. Check out this useful blog for the full low down on everything you need to know about canicross.
2. Get kitted out
Ok, so you’ve decided to take the plunge (yay!!!!). The good news is that you don’t really need to buy much gear to get started and any investment will be well worth it as it will last you a very long time.
As for the waist belt, there are different types depending on your preferences and the power of your dog. I personally like the lightweight belts that sit on your bottom/below your waist as these are kinder on your back, especially if you have a strong pulling dog.
With the running line, you can buy a single or double/split line depending on whether you plan to run with one or two dogs (or you can get a set up for more than two dogs if you are on a death wish!). Again, it’s best to get recommendations from other canicrossers if in doubt.
Check out Dogfit for essential kit!
Aside from that, you’re ready to go 🙂
In the winter time we have found that a fleece/jumper for the dogs is an essential item after a run, especially if you are hanging around for a while afterwards (as we invariably do). Here’s a lovely pic of our two with their pal Hank. Red & Hank are modelling the Weatherbeeta fleeces (good quality and price though worth also checking on Ebay as a few pop up on there occasionally) and Sid is wearing an Equafleece, which is a gorgeous lightweight fleece coat.
3. Make contact
Find a local canicross group or individuals that already take part in the sport in your area. I would recommend that you initially search for a dedicated local group via Facebook. That’s how I found my nearest group Northdowns Canicrossers (which covers the Guildford and surrounding areas). Failing that, put a post on the Canicross Trailrunners page.
If there aren’t any organised groups in your area then why not set up your own Facebook group? You’d be surprised how many people will be keen to join when you start spreading the word!
If you are a complete beginner when it comes to running, you may want to join a structured and organised group led by a qualified and trained instructor. DogFit have a number of Trainers who offer one off Taster sessions through to Couch to 5K.
4. Do some social runs
The best thing about canicross is that it is very sociable. If you can find fellow canicrossers in your area why not get together and do some social runs? It’s great fun and the dogs love it!
5. Get tips from other canicrossers
A great thing about knowing other canicrossers is the free advice you can get; whether it’s about nutritional tips for your dogs or the best running kit to use, it’s a great source of information when you are new to this wonderful sport (and beyond!).
6. Your dog always comes first
Always put your dog’s health and well-being first. If you and your dog are new to running then I would suggest doing short/slow runs (or a run/walk) initially and building up from there. If it’s warm or your dog suffers from the heat, then use common sense; either go out early or late to avoid the peak temperatures or ease back completely…and always carry water for them. Some people also use ‘cooling coats’ on their dogs after a warm run to help them recover. A lot depends on your dog’s age, fitness and general health and if you are ever in any doubt you should get them checked over by your vet.
7. Enter a local race
If you are new to canicross but already a keen runner, why not enter a race? There are plenty of events across the country that welcome canicrossers. Check out this Canicross Events page as a starter for ten.
8. Have fun!
Above all else canicross is brilliant fun, both for you and your dog(s). As well as keeping fit, you get to make some great friends and discover new places. So what’s not to like 🙂