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Running with your dog is definitely a great way to get a taste for running. Many people discover dog harness sports via canicross and when you get started in this world, the experience can sometimes be unsettling. How to start canicross ? At what age can my dog start pulling ? What equipment is needed ?

You’re in the right place ! We'll answer all of these questions in order to provide you with as many tools as possible to start off on the right foot with your pawrtner !

The first thing to know is that the best time to start training your dog in canicross (or any other harness sport) is when the dog is finished growing. Depending on the breed or on the advice of your veterinarian, the growth is mostly complete at 12 months (later in large breed dogs and a little earlier in small breed dogs).

The reason to avoid pulling at a young age is because it's critical to protect the dog's growing joints and bones from impact - you don't want to risk injuring your dog and creating problems that will follow it for the rest of its life. That being said, it is possible to start accustoming the dog to pull before the end of its growth (around 7-8 months) with short canicross training sessions. Caution ! Training before the end of growth is intended to be mental training (desensitizing the dog to the harness and getting it used to pulling) and not physical. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to observe the following points in order not to injure the dog :

  1. Very short training sessions : you want the dog to learn to feel comfortable with the harness and to make a positive association with pulling. You must therefore stop well before your dog shows a loss of interest and limit training to a few hundred meters (remember, the dog is still growing and is not old enough to do intensive physical training);
  2. Low-intensity training : the primary objective is to limit the impact on the joints so it's best to train at low speed. A short jog is ideal for the dog to practice a fast trot rather than long strides (the faster the dog runs, the stronger the impacts - reason why bikejoring isn't advised when the dog is young);
  3. Infrequent training : training the dog once or twice a week is enough to start making him comfortable pulling and learn the basics (stay ahead and some basic commands);

Once the dog has reached full growth, training can increase in frequency, duration and intensity. Canicross is the ideal activity to get started in the world of dog harness sports. The dog is close, it is easy to guide it by manipulating the bungee line and the speed is neither too slow nor too fast. It is best to train on a track with low traffic (avoid distractions), narrow and without too many branches so that the dog only has to concentrate on pulling forward and is not confronted with situations where the direction to take is not clear.

Each dog is unique and learns at its own pace. You are its trainer and it is essential that you adapt to its ability and motivation so as not to give it bad experiences while pulling.

Now let's talk about the canicross kit ! To practice this activity, there are three essentials :

  • Canicross belt : this is the equipment you will be wearing to be connected to your dog. The canicross belt allows good freedom of movement (in order to run comfortably) while offering good support to distribute the dog's pulling force at the buttocks area and to avoid strain the lower back. Depending on your dog's weight and strenght, you'll have to choose between the multifonctional walking belt or the hybrid traction belt.
  • Bungee line : also called canicross bungee line or dog bungee line, it connects the dog to the human. This equipment absorbs impacts when the dog pulls to protect your dog's joints as well as your back. In canicross, the multisports bungee line is perfect because its lenght is short enough to keep the dog relatively close for better control.
  • Dog pulling harness : it is with this equipment that the dog transmits all its pulling force. Our dog pulling harness is ideal because It offers the dog great freedom of movement and is well padded for maximum comfort. Caution! Many harnesses found in stores are not suitable for pulling, in which case you are looking at a dog harness for racing.

That's it ! You are already better equipped to embark on the great adventure that is canicross. Don't hesitate to check if a club is located near you, it's a great way to learn for you and your dog with other enthusiasts !

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