I started running with my dog because no peaceful walk could ever burn enough of his boundless energy. Even after walking over 5 kilometers, he would start running around the house as soon as I took off his leash and harness. So, I thought to myself, why not try canicross? What a wonderful idea, but not without the appropriate canicross gear!
Running was not easy for me, as it was far from my first choice when it comes to physical exercise. But after figuring out how to run safely with my dog and make him a good running partner, it turned out to be nicer than I expected. In fact, with my dog by my side, the miles felt a bit shorter!
Tips before putting on your sneakers
- Before you begin, see your vet to make sure your dog is healthy enough to run regularly.
- Take the temperature into account. Running in extreme heat or cold can be dangerous for your dog’s health, even if the vet has declared him fit for this type of exercise.
- Carry water with you and take breaks in the shade to keep you and your dog hydrated and the body at the right temperature. Remember that your little companion is covered with hair, and that (if they are not protected), his paws are directly in contact with the heat of the ground.
Now, here’s how getting equipped with the right canicross gear can make the activity way more enjoyable.
Canicross gear: the belt and leash combo
You need to have both hands free to run while keeping your dog strapped in and under control. Therefore, a canicross belt is an essential piece of equipment! It’s also handy to store your phone, dog poop bags, keys, and all the other little things you may need.
Before purchasing a hands-free canicross belt for my dog and I, my top priorities were:
- A comfortable belt for the back, with several pockets that can hold phone, papers, keys, water and dog waste bags
- Strong enough to keep my dog secure
- Flexible enough to leave my dog free to speed up or slow down without breaking my rhythm
As for that little extra essential thing that I would never have thought of? The two handles! Take my word for it when I tell you that when a dog has spotted a rabbit and starts running after it, you are going to be very happy to have chosen a leash that allows good control.
There are many other models to choose from. In addition to the different storage options they offer, think above all about your body type and your dog’s pulling force. Avoid belts that are too thin and will cause back problems and prioritize comfortable and thick canicross belts.
Canicross gear: Choosing the right harness
Regarding the canicross harness, it is important that it is strong, well adjusted to your dog, and comfortable, so that it does not bother or injure him. You should also opt for a harness that will allow the traction to be better distributed over the entire pelvis. And unlike the belt which tends to go up a bit for some people, the harness stays in place!
In addition, the “X-back harness” is ideal for dogs who pull a lot and therefore for traction sports such as canicross, canivtt and biking. This type of is suitable for all dog breeds, but is particularly for Nordic dogs such as Shepherd dogs (Australian Shepherd, Border Collie), Malinois and Golden retriever.
If you plan to take your dog for a run at dawn or in the evening when it’s getting darker, make sure you and your dog are clearly visible as well. A comfortable reflective harness should do the trick!
What about a “luminous harness”? Every time we run into a neighbor while jogging before or after sunset, we get a little compliment like “How convenient!”. People can see us from far away, almost like my dog and I running under full light. The variation in colors makes us look like a mobile disco. What else can you ask for?
Beyond canicross gear: proper dog care
Protect his paws
Remember to protect the paws of your dog with small breathable slippers that are ultralight and non-slip. They will keep your best friend’s paws safe while you run on the pavement or uneven ground and prevent him from burning his pads on hot sidewalks or on snow, for example.
If your dog categorically refuses to wear slippers to run, you may also consider applying a little barrier cream or paste to his pads if you think the ground will be too warm or too choppy.
Remember to take a bowl!
You must bring enough water for your dog and yourself. Don’t forget to also bring a small collapsible bowl or a dog water bottle with an integrated reservoir. I prefer to use a very small bowl, but my dog can drink from anything when he is thirsty. You may need to test what works best for you and your dog.
If you’ve ever thought of going for a regular run with your dog, you must appropriately plan and prepare for the activity. And this starts with getting the appropriate canicross gear. You will make the experience more enjoyable and your best friend will thank you for the opportunity to spend time together!