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What is canicross?
Canicross is a sport where you run cross country with your dog pulling you in a harness and bungee line. You run on natural surfaces such as trails, dirt roads or grass (not on pavement).
There are organized canicross races, but you can also run canicross with your dog anywhere for fun.
Canicross is a popular sport in Europe and is becoming more popular in the United States.
How to get started in canicross
Anyone can participate in canicross! And all breeds are capable.
If you and your dog are already running together, then canicross will not be hard for you. The difference is getting the right gear and being OK with your dog pulling you.
Canicross for beginners
If you and your dog are not runners, then focus on simply running together before you worry about the details of canicross. We have tips for running with your dog to help you get started. If you’re not already going for long walks, then start with walking.
You want to build up your dog’s endurance and their paw pads slowly. It’s better to take it easy than to go out to fast or too far and risk injury. So be patient.
We have information on the best canicross gear below but all you really need is a non-restrictive harness for your dog, a waist belt for yourself and a bungee leash. The bungee leash absorbs some of the force to make canicross running more comfortable for both you and your dog.
Best breeds for canicross
Any dog who loves to run can compete in canicross!
Canicross is not specific to certain breeds. Small dogs are welcome, as are “brachycephalic” breeds such as boxers and bull mastiffs. You just have to know your dog and keep the running to their specific ability and conditioning.
That being said, some breeds may naturally be a better fit for canicross. Think athetic, fast dogs such as vizslas, German shorthaired pointers, weimaraners, huskies, salukis or border collies.
But, any active breed will likely enjoy canicross such as Labradors and golden retrievers, pitbulls and endless mixed breeds.
And if your dog does not enjoy running, you can always do canicross walking.
Best canicross gear
To properly participate in canicross with your dog, you’ll need three pieces of equipment:
Wait belt for yourself.
Other canicross gear to think about would include poop bags, a dog water bowl and a way to carry water such as a running best for yourself.
Canicross dog racing vs. running with your dog
Running with your dog in general is also a great thing to do. The difference between canicross and running with your dog in general is that in canicross your dog is pulling you in a harness and bungee leash attached to your waist.
Canicross is also done on natural surfaces such as trails or dirt roads, not on pavement.
How to find canicross races
Here at Run That Mutt, we list out as many canicross races in the United States as we can find. So, start your search there.
We also list all dog friendly races in general. Though these are not official canicross races, you can certainly still run them canicross style as long as your dog is under control.
Another thing you can do is simply search for races you want to do in your area. Then, email the race director and ask if you can bring your dog. Canicross racing is more appropriate for trail races, which tend to also have fewer participants and be more spread out.
Some road events are very crowded and would not be ideal for a beginning canicross race.