Canicross can be beneficial for more than your dog’s physical health. It can also be a good form of mental stimulation.
It is natural for dogs to be active. Physical exercise can help address problems, such as separation anxiety, stress, destructive behavior, and boredom.
Canicross can also help avoid becoming overweight, it can strengthen muscles for other dog sports, or it can simply improve a dog’s overall health. In some cases, it can also help dogs with a mild form of hip dysplasia by strengthening muscles around the hips.
Canicross is also a good and safe sport to start training and preparing young dogs because there are no super high speeds involved, and the movements are controlled. The movement is quite linear, unlike flyball or agility, for example.
Unless your dog has some severe known health issues, it is a fairly safe sport. All types of dogs of all sizes and ages can participate in canicross as long as you respect the limits of your dog.
When can I start training my dog for canicross?
Most dogs aren’t fully grown until they are 12-18 months old.
Being active prepares the body for what’s to come later, but if you start specific training too early, it can cause severe health problems later. You can teach your dog to pull for very short distances to teach it the routines of doing things together, but the physical training should not be too hard for a young dog.
There are many other things you can do to prepare your dog for canicross, such as standing calm at the start, line out, and doing the countdown. You can also teach it commands that could be useful later. Left, right, and straight ahead are the most common commands. You can start training directions at a very young age by simply walking with your dog and giving the directions.
When your dog is at least eight months old, you can start training sprint finishes. Do that by letting your dog sprint for 100-400 meters one to three times a week. At the end, they receive a treat or a toy.
Can I do canicross with an old dog?
Old dogs can also run, but you can’t expect them to run as fast as a young dog. It is also important to respect your senior’s limits and needs.
Paw cuts due to gravel, ice, stones, or other sharp objects is probably the most frequent injury in canicross. This can be prevented by using socks and performing proper paw care.
We recommend the regular use of Paw Care to prevent dry and cracked paws. This natural paw ointment has a healing and preventive effect. Sand away hard skin regularly to keep the paws soft and strong. Dead skin often causes cracking. A nail file can be used.
Sometimes, a dog breaks its toenails when running. Always keep the nails short, and cut them often.
Shoulder injuries or back problems can be caused by a harness that doesn’t fit or by overtraining.
To prevent injuries and to prepare the dog for running, always remember to warm up before you run and to go for a walk to cool down after.
Also remember that your dog’s digestion is slow. There is a risk of stomach torsion if you feed your dog before a run.
Take precautions when training in hot weather. Your dog could become overheated!
Running on gravel or tarmac
Be careful if you are running on very hard surfaces. In summer, tarmac becomes hot and can burn your dog’s feet. Gravel roads could also damage the paws.
Hard surfaces are not as shock absorbent and are harder on your and your dog’s joints. Nevertheless, it is not always avoidable, and you might need to cross some roads before you are in the forest or park to run. Some days, tarmac is the only option you have. It is okay as long as you do not go running on tarmac every day. It can actually help make the paws stronger!
For training, or even for walks on hot summer days, you can use socks to protect the paws from hot surfaces or when training on gravel roads.