Canicross Isle of Wight is an off-road running club for dogs and owners.
What is canicross?
Canicross (canine cross-country) is simply running with your dog. Runners wear a waist belt with their dog wearing a harness attached via a bungee line to absorb shocks and make running more comfortable.
Dogs are taught to run in front of the owner keeping the line tight to stop it getting tangled around legs. If you have a dog who is a strong puller you will find you can significantly cut your running times!
Any breed of dog can do canicross as long as it is physically able to run.
Benefits of canicross
- Improve your fitness (and your dog’s!)
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight for you and your dog.
- Meet other like-minded runners and dog owners.
- Learning a new activity with your dog will improve the bond you have. Your dog will learn to work with you and listen to you for guidance.
- Great outlet for your dog’s energy.
- Excellent for ‘problem’ dogs, who’s behavioural issues often stem from having too much pent-up energy.
- Exercise releases endorphins which relieves stress and helps your dog relax.
Runs are held at various times and locations across the Isle of Wight. Everyone welcome! The routes will be off-road and signposted. Distances vary depending on location. We welcome everyone from experienced canicrossers wanting to run with others; experienced runners wanting to train their dogs in canicross; people wanting to increase their fitness, improve their running, exercise their dog and socialise with others; and complete beginners who have never run before.
Time will be taken with dogs new to canicross to teach them to run ahead and keep the line tight and build up their confidence if needed.
For details of run times and venues:
join our Facebook group
call Lora on 07592540656
or email email@example.com
What if I can’t run?
A personalised training program will be available to get you running a 5k in no time. This will take into account your current ability and help you gradually build up your fitness and running distance.
What if I don’t have a dog?
You’re welcome too! If you don’t have a dog, your dog is not able to run with you, or maybe you just want to improve your running before you try canicross, you are welcome to come along to the group runs and do some cross-country. Training programs and support will be available to get you started or help you improve.
Training for your dog
At the very least your dog should be taught to run in front of you and keep the line tight which keeps the dog away from your feet and stops the line getting tangled in anyone’s legs. Some dogs will do this naturally, others will need some encouragement and practice.
There are some (optional) basic commands you may find useful for canicross, and we can help with these if you wish to teach them.
A ‘steady’ command to ask your dog to slow down is advisable, especially for large and strong dogs. You will not be able to rely on stopping your dog with the lead as they are already pulling.
Left and right commands. Your dog will be in front of you, when you get to a turn or fork you need to be able to let them know which way to go.
A ‘leave it’ or ‘on-by’ command to remind your dog to focus when passing other dogs and people, rather than stopping to say hello.
A ‘go-on’ command to ask your dog to really pull, handy for going up hills!
We also give the opportunity to practice passing other canicross runners, or allowing other runners to pass you, whilst your dog remains focused on running, as well as practicing mass starts which are common at races and can be unnerving for some dogs (and owners).
Ideally runners will have a belt to attach the lead to, as this allows you to have your hands free for running and allows your dog to pull without the risk of injuring you or pulling the lead out of your hand. There are specially designed canicross belts to suit everyone, but to start off you can use any belt, a bumbag, or even just a long lead around your waist.
A harness which directs pulling pressure away from the neck is essential for your dog. There are many styles of harness designed specifically for canicross, however these are not essential especially if you are just starting out, and any comfortable harness which attaches at the back and takes the pulling force away from the neck will do. Allowing your dog to pull in a collar can cause damage to the sensitive throat and neck. Choke chains or slip leads are absolutely not allowed for canicross.
The canicross line should be 2m (6ft) long and ideally have some form of bungee to absorb shocks. Again, for starting out this is not essential and any lead will work fine (not flexi or extendable leads).
Your footwear should be comfortable and suitable for running. Please be aware some routes will be muddy at certain times of the year. Clothing should be comfortable and appropriate for the weather.
Canicross races and events
Most events run during the cooler months. Canicross Isle of Wight will be attending several races and the option of hiring a minibus or car sharing may be available to reduce travel costs.
For information on canicross friendly events: Canicross Trailrunners
For information about the sport in the UK and details of events: CaniX UK
Harnesses, belts and lines custom-made in the UK: Kisi
For a variety of canicross equipment: Cani-fit
Article on the dangers and symptoms of heat stroke and hyperthermia in dogs: Heatstroke and Hyperthermia