– What is canicross?
It is a canine sport discipline and it consists in running in team with your dog, using a specific equipment. In Italy, this word often takes on an exclusively competitive meaning.
– What is the 6-legged run?
It is a fun sport activity and it consists in running happily together with your dog. In Italy it always takes on a “joyful” meaning. 😉
– Where does canicross come from?
Most likely it comes from sled dog world. During the summer when there wasn’t snow on the ground but temperatures were not so high, the dogs were sometimes taken to run and were kept by a rope that the musher rolled around his waist.
– Is it widespread?
The spread of this sport is not very homogeneous. In Italy it is still at the beginning but in countries like France, Spain, Belgium and England it is a sport with many fans.
– Who can do it?
All healthy people can practice it. (to start running read here)
– Can all dogs run?
Unfortunately no 🙁 Some breeds have a physiology that is not good for running! But since there are so many ways to move together, everyone will surely find the way that best suits the physical and character traits of his dog. In all the different situations it is always very important that the dog is healthy and of the right age.
– Can I take my puppy to run with me?
No! We must always wait the complete physical development of the dog and the bigger the dog, the more we will have to wait. 12 months is the minimum age that has been conventionally established to participate in competitive race.
– Are there more suitable breeds?
For sure all those “sporting” breeds, such as nordic sled dogs, working breeds and more or less all hunting breeds.
– And which ones are the less indicated?
Obviously all those types that do not have a physical structure suitable for running. Among these we must always include all those brachycephalic dogs. The very short snout in fact, creates big problems of breathing.
– Is it true that a dog does not need training?
No! Often you make the mistake of thinking that a dog as such can be safely and suddenly catapulted from the couch to the trails. Mistaken! Just like us even they need a gradual adaptation to running.
– What are Greyster, Eurohound and Alaskan Husky?
They are cross-breed selected exclusively for their running aptitude. In practice they are ad hoc crossings aimed at obtaining dogs with excellent athletic performance.
– What is the necessary equipment for 6-legged running?
The canicross kit consists of a running belt for us, a cushioned line and a dog harness.
– What is the running belt?
It is a special belt that allows us to run connected with our 4-legged friend having always the maximum comfort and avoiding problems to our back.
– What’s the line?
It is the cushioned leash that connects the belt to the harness. The cushioning is guaranteed by one or more elastics that can be “incorporated” into the line or attached to the belt.
– What is the harness?
It is a sleddog type harness specifically designed for running. It is ergonomics and allow our dog to run comfortably and without risk to his health. There are several models and they must be chosen considering both the dog’s physically structure and also his style of running (read more here).
– What is the correct position for running on 6 legs?
It is the one in which the dog runs in front the driver. In this way, the pull of the dog will help our run and also we will be always able to watch the ongoing situation and then control and manage the dynamics of the team.
– What kind of clothing do we need?
The running and / or trail-running type. It is advisable to always carry a “camel-back” backpack, in order to have water always at our disposal.
– Which kind of shoes is better to choose?
Surely running shoes better trail-running models because more suitable for “our” tracks.
– Where is it possible to canicross?
You can practice it anywhere. The dog is “connected” to us so we do not violate any law.
– What are the ideal surfaces?
The most suitable are certainly those natural trails that are quite soft, such as for example those inside a forest or those that cross the meadows. Avoid all those too hard and among these even those mule tracks that in addition to being hard as cement, are also full of small and sharp pebbles. The asphalt is certainly not very indicated but above all because in the hot period it can even become hot.
– Which period of the year is the best to practice it?
The best seasons are those in which the temperatures are not too high. The period suitable goes from autumn to the following spring. In late spring and summer, you must always confine the runs at the coolest hours of the day. Avoid also too cold winter days. In the mountains where temperatures are lower it can be practiced practically all year long.
– What are the environmental factors should I consider?
The temperature is the Achilles’ heel for our 4-legged friends. Their “cooling system” is not as efficient as ours and temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius can already be very dangerous. When the humidity is very high, you must be very careful even at temperatures below 20 ° C.
– How should I plan a new route?
The following factors must always be taken into consideration:
length, duration, type of surface, presence of wild animals, presence of flocks, possible prohibitions or special restrictions, availability of water, shading of the route and any other possible dangers.
– Do I have to be careful about feeding my dog?
Yes! A sportive dog needs a more varied diet than usual. In addition, you should always avoid feeding him just before (4 hours), during and immediately after (2 hours) a run.
– Does the dog need to drink a lot during training?
Absolutely not! When “in action” we must avoid that the dog drinks too much and also too quickly, especially if the water is cold. This caution should be taken also immediately after training.
– Are there other disciplines similar to canicross?
Yes and they are: bike-joring, scooter-joring and ski-joring.
– What I have to do as soon as we finish our workout?
I have to take care of my dog’s hygiene. The best trails are “wild”, that’s why it is very likely that during a canicross training, our dog can be full of hitchhiker seeds, mud and various dirt. It is a good habit, therefore, clean his fur after every single training and take advantage of this moment to also verify that some foreign objects, have not “snuck” in very delicate places, such as between the toes (read more here).
– What are the basic “commands” that my dog needs to know?
The minimum set is to teach your dog those commands necessary to start, stop and turn. With time then you can introduce further commands which will make the 6-legged runs even safer and more enjoyable.
– Should I use specific words to give instructions to my dog?
No! The important thing is that the dog understands the words you say 😉 . The only thing to avoid is the use of very similar words which sounds very close.
– Are there also competitive competitions? Which?
Yes. In Italy there are various circuits of competitive r managed by different federations, among these UISP, CSEN and FISC. At European level, among the most important events are certainly to mention the European Canicross and Bikejoring Federation Championship (ECF) and the Trophée des Montagnes (TdM).petitive races managed by different federations, among these UISP, CSEN and FISC. At European level, the most important events that we must certainly mention are the European Canicross and Bikejoring Federation Championship (ECF) and the Trophée des Montagnes (TdM). ECF since 2018 has become ICF (International Canicross Federation). That’s due to the fact that some non European countries are now allowed to take part in the championship.
– What’s the TdM (Trophée des Montagnes)?
It is the most fascinating canicross event in the world. It takes place every year in the French Alps and is structured on 10 races in 9 days.
– What’s the average distance of the competitive races?
Normally the trails are long between 5 and 7 km and the D+ difference is within 200 m. There are also “sprint” races up to 3 km in length. In TdM the distances and the differences in height can also be higher.
– What are the biggest risks?
Surely the heat stroke and the gastric torsion. However, they can be taken under control, avoiding always those factors that increase their possibility of occurrence.
– What is the thing which must never be forgotten?
It is what military calls SA – Situational Awareness. We have to be always able to have a precise and correct perception of what is happening around us. We must always understand all the signals that our dog provides us, so as to avoid any dangerous situation. In short… the dog must always be in the center of our attention.
– What’s the most important thing in the 6-paw run?
Our furry friend 😉 we must never forget his safety!