Dogs love “walkies”. And unless it’s pouring with rain and blowing a gale, so do their owners. But there’s much more to this daily routine than you might think. In fact, it’s actually a complex process of negotiation, which reveals a great deal about our relationship with man’s best friend.
In many ways, the walk reflects the historical social order of human domination and animal submission. But research suggests that it also allows humans and dogs to negotiate their power within the relationship. In fact, our recent study found that the daily dog walk involves complex negotiation at almost every stage.
The UK, like many countries, is a nation of pet lovers – 40% of UK households are home to a domestic animal. And for dog owners (24% of UK households) that means a lot of walking. Dog “owners” walk 23,739 miles during an average dog’s lifetime of 12.8 years and reportedly get more exercise from walking their dogs than the average gym goer. Despite this, we actually know very little about how walking and the spaces in which we walk help forge our relationships with dogs.
Running with your dog: where and with what dogs?
All dogs who enjoy walking and running are adapted to the practice of this dog sport. However, one must be vigilant to the weight ratio between the dog and his master. A greyhound can not exert significant traction on a master weighing a hundred pounds. Sled dogs like Huskies are predestined dogs for this discipline. By the way, a royal poodle can take a lot of fun running with his master.
Running with your dog is anything but monotonous, since during your race, you are forced to cross all kinds of different landscapes and to walk different types of trails. Moreover, they are rarely flat or straight! For the sensitive pads of dogs, the ideal is to run on the grass and on the soft ground of the forests. In addition, obstacles naturally present in your path, such as branches and pebbles require the total concentration of the dog or the team. During official races, the course is well signposted: a red sign on the left side of the trail means you have to turn left. The same sign on the right indicates a right fork. The blue signs indicate that you are on the right path. Finally, the yellow signs mean danger zones. When doing your canicross training, avoid long stretches with asphalt floors, which hurt the legs of dogs.
Aside from good running shoes and the basic equipment of the jogger, you will need a canicross belt to which will be attached the leash of a length of about two meters, equipped with a damper. The latter helps protect the spine of the master and dog shaking. The belt should be equipped with a panic carabiner, minimizing the risk of injury. A canicross harness is essential for your dogs. It is comparable to the harness worn by sled dogs. The harnesses of this type allow the dog to breathe properly and to prevent him from feeling impeded in his movements, during the practice of canicross.
Let’s go: first steps in canicross
Of course, as a “teammate” you must be in good physical condition and be prepared for this kind of race to keep up the pace. If you do not follow the pace, the tension on the leash will be higher and the dog will slow down. After the first race, it is likely that you feel aches: thanks to the traction exerted by your dog, you can add up to 4 km / h at your speed. It is important that your dog does not get distracted during your canicross practice. Talk to the draft dog and sled dog associations, who can give you valuable advice on canicross beginnings such as the optimal canicross equipment for you and your dog.
Before running with his dog for the first time, it is recommended to wait until the dog is at least one year old. From this age, you can start training together. For this sport, you must give your dog the direction and guide it with a few simple indications (“right”, “left”, “pull”). Pulling on the leash is usually not allowed on the dog during classic walks. To teach your dog to pull on the leash and thus to pull, it is advisable to ask someone to help you. Ideally, this person stands in front of the dog and encourages him to advance by rewarding him with treats.
The canicross, a real sport for the masters and their dog
Before the race, it is recommended to take a short warm-up walk with his dog, so that he has the opportunity to do his needs. In the early days, practice on short distances of one or two kilometers, on a trail with no major irregularities. So you both get used to running and pulling. This advice is also valid for already sporty dogs, able to run 10 km at your side at one time. We must not forget that the practice of canicross poses new challenges. After a few weeks, gradually increase the distances you travel with your companion and train him by throwing him from time to time some challenges, such as a final sprint for example.
Some additional tips for running with your dog:
- During your canicross races, anticipate and avoid over-riding your dog. If you still have a long distance to go, adjust your pace and slow down accordingly.
- Do not train at temperatures above 18 degrees to prevent your dog from getting too hot. In summer, canicross duets can train at the coolest hours of the day, at dawn or in the evening.
- Do not forget to pay special attention to your dog drinking enough.
- While downhill, let your dog run beside you or behind you. Pulling downhill could quickly cause a fall.
We wish you a lot of fun in the practice of canicross with your dog, on all types of paths!