Cani-Cross: Running with Man's Best Friend
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Some days it can be a struggle to find the motivation to head out the door....for humans. Dog's on the other hand have no idea what that feels like!
The Growing Sport of Cani-Cross
I started running with my Border Collie "Mo" just after he turned 1. Little runs to and around the park use to tire him out for the rest of the day. It started as just a time efficient way to give him the exercise he needed around my work. But it grew into something amazing.
Mo started to notice when it was "run time" instead of just a walk. He's always excited to go out, but when he saw me lacing up my running shoes, he goes mental! And, kind of embarrassingly, when we get outside and start running, he's yelping sooooo loud with excitement! People must think something horrible is going on if they can't see him.
I'm lucky with a well trained border collie. He knows his "left" and "right" commands, listens for the BEEP of the watch for when to start and stop and can be let off the lead in parks/trails. I used to run with a rand held lead which was a nightmare on my shoulder. After googling "hands free dog leads" I kept seeing these "cani-cross" leads for sale, realising then that there was an actual sport. Amazing!
I've only attended 1 actually Cani-Cross event in fife. Around 200 runners and dogs (some with 2 sledding them around), the atmosphere was crazy! The noise of excited barking filled the park. A whole mix of breeds and runners. Big and small, fast and slow, this was a sport for all dog lovers who love getting fit with their 4 legged buddies.
I can't quite explain what feels so good about it. It's a bonding experience between dog and man. Something primal like we're going out on a hunt together, dog scouting the way ahead for the slower human behind him. And the look and wags you get at the end when your at the finish line or outside the flat and he's heard the last BEEP on the watch is just priceless.
But things you MUST consider:
I encourage everybody to try going for a wee dog jog, but it's up to you to take care of your pet. Here's a short list of things to look out for:
Breed - Certain dogs are better runners. For some (big dogs especially) running Cani-Cross style can actually be bad for them! Please ask your vet if you're unsure.
Age - As puppies, bones, joints and muscles aren't fully developed. Although you can't and shouldn't stop them running about in the park like puppies/dogs do, regular Cani-Cross runs has a higher level of stress on their bodies to be aware of.
Equipment - During my 1st Cani-Cross race I wasn't aware of the fact Mo had a "stop-pull" harness. These harness' restrict the shoulder movement of your dog during a full sprint. This will be uncomfortable for them and could lead to joint problems. A running harness should go under the shoulders and along the chest.
Weather - The most important aspect to be aware of! Dogs can overheat so much faster than humans due to the fact they don't sweat. And hot surfaces can damage their pads. When I run with Mo, I always plan around the heat. Including regular stops in streams and rivers and shaded running routes. If it's HOT hot, don't risk it!!!
Apart from that, grab you lead and harness and head out the door for a bonding run with the best furry, 4 legged running partner you could ask for!