You are rather sporty and you want to start running, or on the contrary you need motivation to go running in the morning or on Sunday? Then don't hesitate any longer and take your dog with you via an activity for dogs that is on the rise: the cani-cross!
I propose you today to discover all the advices to practice cani-cross with your dog, the advantages, the recommendations for the first steps and the equipment that you will need.
Cani-cross : what is it ?
Cani-cross is a canine sport to be practiced with your dog as a leisure activity or in competition and which consists in running with your dog while being linked by a leash. It is a real sport to be shared by two: coordination of the rhythm, mutual motivation and connivance are the key words of this discipline.
Cani-cross is one of the most accessible traction sports because of its minimal equipment requirements and the possibility of practicing it anywhere without worries. This discipline, now very popular, was initially created by mushers to allow the continuity of the training of their sled dogs, and this, even during the off seasons.
Why run with your dog?
As mentioned before, practicing cani-cross is rather simple and accessible to everyone since this sport does not require investing in expensive equipment like a bike or a scooter for example.
Moreover, practicing cani-cross with your dog has many advantages:
• It allows a dog to be physically active in an intensive way (with progressive training of course)
• The cani-cross allows to reinforce the relationship between a master and his dog
• Practicing a sport activity with your dog allows you to maintain and develop the physical and mental health of an active and dynamic dog "from birth".
• Taking your dog for a run is a perfect motivation to take up sports and above all it allows you to offer regular appointments to your dog (and to yourself...)
• Cani-cross is an activity that requires very little investment at the beginning and that costs almost nothing in the long term (except for the replacement of any used equipment)
• The practice of cani-cross allows in some cases to solve physical problems (overweight) or behavioral problems in the dog (lack of spending generating destructions for example)
On a personal note, the cani-cross allowed me to motivate myself to start exercising and also to make my dog lose her excess weight. As I am not at all athletic and she is not used to running intensively, our training sessions were progressive. Together we managed to find our rhythm and to improve our sessions, our endurance and our physical condition as we went along.
Which dog can I run with?
In itself, any dog can run, it is even in its deep nature, few dogs move only by walking, you will agree. However, the practice of cani-cross is more appropriate for certain breeds, even if it is always possible to adapt an activity to the physical condition of your dog.
The dogs that will be the most fond of running are of course all the dogs initially selected for traction: Husky, Malamute, Samoyed, etc. The advantage of these dogs is that they are often very hardy and resistant: they can run long distances without difficulty.
During cani-cross competitions, you will very often find on the podiums dogs initially selected for hunting: Braque, Setter, etc. They are very tough and above all, they are very resistant. They are very hardy and some of them are very fast. Moreover, hounds are more and more used in sled teams.
Terriers are also very appreciated by runners because they are motivated, even obstinate, and are therefore very good companions for the practice of cani-cross. This discipline allows small Terriers, like the Jack Russel for example, to run and pull despite their small size. Indeed, their size sometimes does not allow them to practice other traction sports such as cani-VTT or cani-trottinette for example. Nice revenge!
On the other hand, it is not recommended to practice cani-cross with a dog having a crushed muzzle for example (Boxer, Bulldog, etc.) because these dogs could have difficulties to breathe during efforts. But here again, it will be possible to adapt the sessions so that each dog can express itself physically in this discipline.
Also, large dogs are not welcome in this discipline because they could quickly suffer from joint problems. As far as age is concerned, it is recommended to wait until the end of the dog's growth before practicing cani-cross on a regular or even intensive basis. It is not a question of neglecting the good physical development of your dog.
Thus, the age of the end of growth will vary according to the breed, but it is preferable to wait, on average, until the dog is 13 months old before doing any kind of sports activity. For large dogs (Husky, Braque, etc.) it will sometimes be necessary to wait until the dog is 15 or 20 months old.
To be sure not to end up hurting your pet and to be sure that it has finished its growth, do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian for advice on when to start and especially how to handle your pet during the first sessions.
On the other hand, you should not make an older dog run either. Even if physical activity is important, especially to slow down the effects of arthritis for example, it is recommended to practice more cani-marking rather than cani-cross which could be too intense for an old dog.
Cani-cross: the necessary equipment
Like any sport, cani-cross requires specific and quality equipment. Here is the list of the essentials to have to start cani-cross:
- A dog ... it can always be useful
- A traction harness adapted to your dog's morphology (absolutely avoid walking harnesses which are designed to impede traction)
- A belt or a harness for you (I recommend the harness, your back will thank you)
- A leash with shock absorber, to avoid jolts, which will connect you to your dog
- Sneakers adapted for you of course but shoes adapted for your dog could be useful especially if he gets injured during a run or if the grounds are not very adapted
- If you run at night (or even when it starts to get dark... Between dog and wolf as they say), I strongly advise you to equip yourself and your dog with reflective strips and to wear a headlamp to guarantee your safety
- Don't hesitate to take in a backpack something to hydrate you and your dog if your cani-cross sessions are long and intensive
How to start cani-cross?
The first thing to do when you want to practice cani-cross is to learn the indications that will be useful during your races, such as "stop", "right/left", "in front", "slowly", etc.
Personally, I use the "in front" indication to make my dog understand that she must concentrate, it's like a motivation!
Then, for the "right/left" indications, personally, I use them but I never really had to teach them to my dog, it is by dint of repetition that it was acquired. As soon as we turned left, I said left and vice versa.
As for the "stop", we often learn this indication in everyday life for the safety of our dog, it is enough to integrate it into the cani-cross sessions. But as for the "right/left" indications, if you say "stop" at each stop, your dog will eventually make the association between the action and the word expressed.
Then, when you start cani-cross, don't expect to do an hour of non-stop running, it will be very important to proceed by stages and not to try to burn them.
As for us humans, the dog will need a progressive training and warm-up before each race. So start by massaging your dog to warm up his muscles and start the "race" by walking, then fast walking and then running.
At first, start with 5min of running/10min of walking then 10min of running/5min of walking, then 15min of running, etc.
Again on a personal note, in our first few sessions my dog and I walked more than we ran, then gradually the trend reversed.
For me, it was quite "simple" to go gradually since I was a poor sportswoman myself. But if you are a great marathon runner, don't ask too much of your dog from the beginning, adapt to him: this will be the key to success. Have a good race!