Every year, more and more people are getting into canicross. It’s not hard to see why. Canicross is a great way to get your dog out and about with you while also giving them the workout they need.
But starting canicross isn’t always easy for newbies. In fact, many people don’t know where to start when it comes to what type of equipment they need, or worse, use the wrong one and injure their dog or themselves. That’s why I’m going to give you the rundown of all the gear and equipment you’ll need so that you don’t feel lost!
1. Canicross Harness
The first thing you will need is a harness. There are many different types, but you’ll only need the one that’s designed for canicross. You don’t want to use a standard dog harness or the one you used to train your canine friend not to pull, and even harnesses for regular jogging or running aren’t suitable, as those were not designed for your dog to pull.
The harness you need for canicross is the one specifically designed for dog-powered sports like skijoring, bikejoring, and mushing. Basically, any activity that requires your dog to tow you.
This type of harness is built with better-quality material that will stand up to your dog’s pulling force. Plus, they typically have some padding to cushion your pooch’s chest and shoulders and are shaped in a way that allows for better distribution of the pressure to ensure your dog’s maximum comfort.
The Neewa Adjustable Sled Pro Harness is a good example. It’s a dog joring harness that features eight adjustment points, which will give you the perfect fit for your dog. Additionally, it is lightweight and has padding in all the right places. Plus, it is made of high-quality materials, so you won’t have to worry about it falling apart after only a couple of uses.
Just make sure you pick something that fits snugly and doesn’t pinch or rub anywhere on your dog’s body or restrict their movement because a good fit is imperative for your dog’s comfort and safety in any activity like this. And no matter how well-made the harness is, without proper sizing, your fido will chafe terribly and possibly injure themselves.
2. Running Belt
Next, you will need a running belt. It is for you to attach your dog’s leash to and for stashing keys, cash, cell phone, dog treats, or anything else you don’t want jostling around in your pockets while you run with your fido.
You want one that is well-built so that nothing flops around too much and gets in your way while canicrossing. Otherwise, you’ll start to notice an imbalance, which isn’t a good thing at all, especially if you are running long distances.
You can find running belts at most pet stores or online, but I like this Neewa Canicross Belt better because it is lightweight and has reflective strips that can keep me visible while running in low-light conditions. Most importantly, it is compliant with canicross rules and regulations and is comfortable for me to wear.
It is also important to note that the belt needs to rest around your hip, not your waist. If it is sitting too high, it will put a lot of pressure on your lower back, which will, in turn, cause plenty of discomforts, or worse, pulled back muscles or lumbar strain.
3. Bungee Leash
You’ll, of course, need a leash as well to keep your dog connected to you while canicrossing, making sure that they will stay close to you without any risk of them getting away or straying too far.
When it comes to picking a leash for canicross, you will need one with a hands-free design. Not only can that keep both your hands from holding anything while running, but it can also help you run more efficiently as you will have a normal running gait. And make sure the leash contains a section of bungee or an elastic cord. That is to protect your back from sudden pulls, plus it will also be easier on your dog’s back.
Picking the correct length is also crucial. You don’t want anything too long or too short. The reason being is that an overly long leash can cause you to trip over, whereas one that’s too short can pull on your dog’s back too much and may cause you to run into your pup. The ideal leash length for canicross is 1.5-2 meters.
And if you ask which one is my favorite, the Neewa Tug-Line with Bungee is the one. It is sturdy and has a bungee cord to absorb the “bounce” or impact when your dog suddenly pulls. There’s also a handle in the middle that gives you instant control over your dog, allowing you to reel your distance four-legged running partner in when needed.
4. The Right Running Shoes for Both You and Your Dog
Running with the right pair of shoes is essential. You will need those that have good traction, and more importantly, can provide you with enough support without hindering mobility or comfort because the last thing you want is for an injury to keep you off the trails.
So, what type of shoes should you go with? Well, I recommend Inov-8 Roclite. Their rubber outsoles are enhanced with graphene, offering insane grip and durability that can handle plenty of abuse, anything from mud and wet mountain rocks to hard-packed trails.
Just as we need trail running shoes, you’ll also need to get a pair for your pup. And I couldn’t recommend anything better than the Ruffwear Grip Trex, which are top-notch dog boots that won’t hamper mobility. And not only can they protect your four-legged running partner’s paws from injury, but they also provide superb traction on all terrain, ensuring your pup can run with firm footing, even on ice!
5. Water Bottle or Hydration Pack
Lastly, you’ll need to stay hydrated while canicrossing, and you also want to make sure your dog is adequately hydrated as well. So ensure to carry plenty of water with you during the run. Most dog owners I know only grab a regular plastic bottle from home, and those will do just fine.
But if you are a serious runner and look for a better option, the Water Buffalo Hydration Pack Backpack may be a perfect choice. It is compact, well manufactured, and has a 2L hydration bladder, which is more than enough to quench your thirst. It is also comfortable to wear thanks to its padded shoulder straps and back support.
In addition, there is a roomy main compartment where you can keep your dog’s travel water bottle as well. What more could you ask for?
As you can see, the equipment you need to get started with canicross isn’t too much. All that’s needed are:
And fortunately, they aren’t too expensive either.
Just remember to have fun! Canicrossing is a terrific activity for both you and your dog, providing plenty of exercises while allowing you both to enjoy the beauty of nature. Life doesn’t get much better than this.