Have you heard of Canicross? This popular new sport for dogs and their owners is huge in the United Kingdom, and is quickly gaining interest in the US.

Canicross is the exciting sport of off-road running with your dog. You – the human – will direct your dog with voice commands, while your canine partner acts as the “power” behind your team. Canicross is a great physical workout for both you and your canine companion and a great mental one. A tired dog is a well behaved dog!

Whether you want to train for a race or try Canicross for fun, this article will teach you everything you need to know to get started.

1. Do I need running experience to participate in Canicross?

You don’t need to be an advanced runner to enjoy Canicross. It’s great for all ages and experience levels. Not a fan of running? Try Canicross while power walking!

2. Does my dog have to be a specific age or breed?

Canicross can be enjoyed by many dogs. To determine whether your canine companion is fit for the sport, look at his breed, age and health condition. Active dogs such as Deerhounds, Border Terriers and Alaskan Malamutes and their mixes love the challenge Canicross offers. Others don’t make suitable long distance running partners – toy and flat-faced breeds, for example.

Dogs should be 12-18 months of age before starting Canicross to allow enough time for their bones and joints to develop. If your dog suffers from mobility issues or any other disease that limits his ability to engage in strenuous activity, Canicross probably isn’t for him. If you’re unsure whether this sport is the right fit for you and your four-legged companion, consult with your vet!

3. What equipment is required?

You only need a few key pieces of equipment to enjoy Canicross with your dog:

A waist belt for you – A strong secure waist belt with fixed, adjustable leg straps makes your run more comfortable and helps prevent strain on your back.

A harness for your dog – It’s important to use a harness specifically designed for Canicross. Make sure it fits properly (not to tight or too loose), sits comfortably, and doesn’t obstruct your dog’s airway.

A bungee running line – This line attaches you to your dog. One end attaches to your waist belt and the other attaches to your dog’s harness.

4. How do I teach my dog the commands?

Start to introduce directional commands on your regular walks! It’s a great way to deepen the bond you share with your dog, and challenge his mental faculties. You can use any terms (left, right, halt, go, etc.) as long as you are consistent.

5. My dog knows the commands… now what?

Always start a Canicross session by walking so you can both warm up and get a feel for the equipment. As with any new activity, you and your dog need to train. Increase your pace and mileage over time and never force your dog to run. Take breaks as needed and be mindful of the weather and terrain you are running on.

6. Where can I learn more about Canicross?

The great thing about Canicross is that you can learn it from anywhere! An online course will be launching in early 2018 that will teach you all you need to know about the sport, and allow you to participate in monthly virtual meetings that offer support, encouragement, and help you meet others involved in the sport!

Want to make it from your couch to a Canicross race in six weeks? This course will help you and your dog achieve that goal!

Visit to learn more.