Canine cross country running, also known as Canicross, combines cross country running and dogs to create one truly unique event. The sport originated in Europe where those in the sledding community used canicross as a way of training their sled dogs in the off-season. Today, it has become its own sport all throughout Europe, particularly the UK.
In a canicross race, dogs wear a body harness and are always attached to the owner. In most cases, the runner will wear a special belt with a bungee cord that attaches to their belt on one end and the dog’s harness on the other. Runners may have one or two dogs attached.
In the early stages of the sport, sledding dogs such as the Alaskan Malamute or Siberian Husky were typically used. Today, the sport is open to all breeds both small and large.
The First Canine Cross Country Event
The first canine cross country event took place in 2008 during the famous dog show, Crufts. More than one hundred runners participated with their canine companions in this inaugural race. These days, canine cross country events are held all over Europe and are mainly sponsored by sled dog and canicross organizations such as the European Canicross Federation.
Events cover varying distances and include cross country terrain. Some are as little as one mile, while others can be as long as 30 miles or more. While all dogs are welcome to participate, most events will require that the dog be at least one year of age for short distance races and two years of age for long distance races. This is to make sure their joints are physically mature so there is less risk of injury associated with running long distances.
A Sport For All Ages
While every dog breed may not be able to win, this is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and every type of dog. Not only does it help strengthen the bond between dog and owner, but it also helps both you and your dog get some much-needed outdoor exercise. Studies have shown that you also get an endorphin rush from high intensity exercise, which can help reduce anxiety. A good run will also tire your dog so they are less likely to get up to boredom related mischief!
Great Form of Exercise
Canicross also helps build up your dog’s physical strength and stamina as most courses are held over a challenging terrain. Many runners also find that the sport is a great way for them to stay fit. Canicross involves not only training your dog to run but also teaching them to obey your directional commands. This means that not only are they exercising their bodies, but their minds as well.
No special equipment is needed to get involved in canicross. You can start running with your canine buddy with just a leash and collar but the harness and bungee cord will allow for hands-free running. If you’d like to try canicross, look for a canine running group in your area. If you can’t find one, perhaps you can start one associated with a local dog training group.
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Guest Author: Ashley Smith is a freelance writer for SEOMap.com, busy mom of 2 and a dog owner. Ashley uses her love of writing to share articles on a variety of topics.
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