Canicross: a beginner’s guide to a six-legged sport

If you and your dog are the athletic type, canicross is a sport for both of you.

As a bonus, you will offer your companion the physical activity he needs, and thus avoid possible problems encountered at home (destruction, barking, running away, etc.).


Canicross, what is it?

Born in Europe, canicross is a relatively recent sport in France. It consists of jogging with your dog. The idea is to race together, as a team: you are the driver and give the directions from behind, while your faithful companion leads the way.

A fun and motivating way to do sport, which also offers you the possibility of improving your communication skills with your dog, since you work as a team.

Which dog breeds are best suited for canicross?

Canicross is a sport that requires both agility and endurance. It is therefore recommended to consult your veterinarian before setting out on the trails. Most breeds can take part in this sport, although working dogs have physiques more suitable for distance running.

Some breeds don’t like to run long distances. Dogs with short noses or flat faces will have a harder time on this type of run. Dogs with long or thick coats may not cool down quickly enough, so running in hot weather is not recommended.

Also keep in mind that even if the dog does not pull you, he leads the way while remaining attached to you and therefore the muscle tension caused by the leash is inevitable. Any dog ​​practicing Canicross must therefore have finished growing.

In any case, physical condition and the absence of conditions such as breathing difficulties or being overweight are prerequisites for the practice of Canicross. This is why the advice of your veterinarian is essential.

What equipment do I need to practice canicross?

As with any sport, you will need the right equipment to practice canicross safely. The materials you will need are:

  • A canicross harness

  • A canicross belt

  • running clothes

  • Trail or running shoes

  • Drinking water for your dog

  • Towels for cleaning up after the race

The top priority is finding a suitable harness for your dog. It should be as comfortable as possible, while ensuring that there are no restrictions in the fit. For example, you should avoid anything that digs into the body, especially the ribs, as this will interfere with your dog’s breathing, and you should also ensure that he has plenty of freedom of movement at the level. neck and waist.

The leash that connects you to your companion’s harness should account for all the tugging on your dog as you run behind him. Pay attention to its height and length. In the event that it is not adjusted, you will quickly notice breathing problems or a slightly unbalanced movement. The leash should also be long enough to prevent you from getting tangled or tripped up and have a rubber band to absorb shock in the event of a sudden jolt during the run.

Your pace should be somewhere between running and jogging, with the emphasis on endurance and flexibility rather than speed. The faster you intend to run, the stronger the belt that connects you to the leash should be. For a moderate pace, a sturdy belt at the waist should suffice, while a hip belt that’s secured by straps around the legs can be great for faster runners.

What are the best places to practice canicross?

Wooded parks and forest trails will be more comfortable on the feet than concrete. Harder terrain will help maintain a good balance between foot wear and lug wear. Do not hesitate to draw your route in advance, this will allow you to avoid any mishap.

If you decide to take up canicross, start by training together and, above all, remember to enjoy this sport for what it is: a great opportunity to get in shape and have a good time with your best friend !

If you want to be accompanied in your learning, Canibest Rouen offers lessons in small groups, adapted to each level. Delphine, our educator and qualified sports coach, will introduce you to Canicross and will advise you in particular on the choice of equipment.