Canicross is the fast-growing sport of hands-free off-road running with your dog. It’s growing popularity not only because of the incredible physical and mental health benefits but also because of the special bond it creates between the owner and their dog. It’s during the winter months and with your own four-legged personal trainer to keep you motivated to stay fit!
For those completely new to canicross, the equipment itself is very straightforward and designed especially for the sport. The owner wears a running belt, the dog wears a harness so that they are attached to each other via a bungee line. Using this specially designed equipment is the safest way to enjoy running with your dog. The hands-free kit allows you to run naturally, so you and your dog can run comfortably and efficiently.
The good news is, you don't have to be super fit or even a runner to enjoy canicross. The beauty of the equipment is that you can simply power walk with your dog. This is known as 'Canitrekking' and is suited for people and dogs of all ages and abilities - though we do advise that your canine buddy is fully grown. When dogs are under twelve months old their growth plates are still forming and too much stress can lead to complications later in life. If you’re in any doubt about whether your dog is ready for canicross, please do seek guidance from your vet.
When you do hit the trails, stick to a pace and distance you and your dog are comfortable with and then increase mileage and intensity as you build your confidence and fitness.
The team at DogFit are passionate about encouraging and supporting people to enjoy canicross in a way that is safe, fun and effective. For anyone looking for expertise and guidance, there are Certified DogFit Canicross Trainers across the UK who can help you reach your goals. Whether you’re a newbie, signed up for a Couch to 5k programme, or building up to longer distances, they’ll support you. Attending regular drop-in classes is a great way to connect with like-minded people and their dogs.
DogFit co-founder, Gail Walker, says canicross is ideal for dogs with high energy levels, behavioural issues or those that simply cannot be let off the lead for whatever reason. “We have many customers with rescue dogs who have found this to be an invaluable way to socialise their dogs - not only do they benefit from running with other dogs in a pack but they quickly pick up verbal commands, and this all speeds up that special relationship they have with their new owner.”
“Canicross has a profound effect on people’s lives,” agrees fellow founder Ginetta George. “ It's an incredibly welcoming and supportive community - for owners and dogs.”
DogFit sells a brilliant starter kit which is manufactured here in the UK and has everything you need to get started to hit the trails with your dog. Take a look at their website to find lots of information about canicross, the equipment you need, and also classes you can attend with DogFit Trainers.