Canicross (sometimes styled as CaniX) is cross-country running with your dog out in front pulling you along. It uses a bungee and special harness so your dog can pull without throwing off your running stride. It’s great fun and exercise for both you and your dog.
You can do canicross alone with your dog, but if you want to get the best out of it, we recommend joining a club. The coaches there will be able to teach you how to control your dog while it runs out in front and (if you’re really sporty) can guide you towards doing canicross competitively. It began as off-season training for sled-dogs. Mushers (sled-dog handlers) would run with the dogs tied to them in the summer months to keep them fit for the winter. It has now taken off as a sport in its own right, with world championships held each year.
While it was originally a sport dominated by huskies and other sled-dog breeds, it has opened up to include all breeds of dog—and all types of humans.
How do I start Canicross?
There are loads of different canicross clubs located worldwide, and they are always delighted to welcome new members.
A club is the best way to start because they will teach you (and your dog) all the necessary commands, tips, and tricks to do canicross safely. With fast moving dogs and people, bungees galore, and technical terrain, it’s worth taking the time to learn things properly.
Canicross is one of the friendliest dog sports we’ve encountered. Most clubs run classes to teach everyone the basics, so it’s super-accessible no matter what level you’re at now.
Pawsitive Fitness, our local canicross club, is running a Jog with Your Dog event this October which is a great example of the type of events that canicross clubs around the world run as an introduction to new members. Super fun, really casual and a great intro to the sport.
I’m not a runner. Can I do Canicross?
Absolutely! Former cross-country athletes and running newbies alike are all part of canicross clubs. It’s about the human and dog working together, not just who can sprint from point to point the fastest.
Even if you have a naturally athletic dog like Gunther, the two of you have to learn the sport together. There are commands to get them to change speed and take corners on the technical courses. You won’t be left behind even if running isn’t your strong suit.
Also, you’re never going to run a marathon with your dog, so you don’t need to be the next Eliud Kipchoge to give it a go. Most competitive canicross courses are about 5km over different terrain, but you can find events that are shorter or longer.
My dog isn’t a husky. Can we do Canicross too?
Yes, almost any dog can do canicross! Freckles, a member of the Irish international team that went to the world championships last year, is a collie/corgi mix.
The main goal is to have fun with your dog, not to break world records, so it doesn’t matter what size or shape they are.
Though if you are interested in records, the top 5km time is 12 minutes and 24 seconds—yeah, we won’t be breaking that either…
What Do I Need to Start Canicross?
Louise Jones is a competitive canicrosser who has won multiple categories in the world championships. She’s running the Jog with Your Dog event and helped me out with some pro-tips. See, I told you they are really friendly!
Proper equipment is key, according to Louise. Having a canicross belt, bungee and proper harness for your dog prevents injury to either of you, which is key for a long and successful canicross career.
You don’t need all the gear to start out. Most clubs have kits that you can borrow to try out during classes or at beginner events. Just reach out to your local club and ask.
(However, I can confirm that once you try out a proper canicross running belt, there is no going back! I use one from Non-stop dogwear.)
If you are looking for a new sport to do with your dog, but you’re worried that they aren’t natural agility champions or cut out for high-level obedience, give canicross a go!