What is canicross? Begginers tips and material


Man and dog have such a strong bond it is not surprising that running together has long been a popular way to exercise and connect with each other. This joint running has been formalised as a new sport to be enjoyed by man and dog; either as a hobby just for the fun of running or as a competitive sport.

It is also a way of meeting other people and their dogs with a shared interest. This activity is called “Canicross”. In this article you will find some tips about dog running leash and others so you can start running with your dog!


Canicross originated in Europe as a way of fitness training for dogs in the mushing or sledding community, for example in summer when there is no snow. It then developed as a participant sport in its own right. The first canicross event took place in 2000, so it is a very young sport but it has spread quickly across Europe.

The concept is very simple: one or two dogs are attached to the human runner using an elastic towline. They run together in the countryside or in a park for fun, fitness, training or competitively. The runner usually has a waist belt and the dog or dogs have a harness each. The dog/s and the runner are connected by an elastic line that avoid any collision between them; for example if a dog pulls suddenly or the runner falls.

Which are the best running dogs?

Initially, the canicross’ breeds of dogs were those used for dog sledge racing such as malamutes and huskies. Since then the sport has developed rapidly and it is now practiced by dogs of most breeds, from large to small. Apart from competing, participants are encouraged to attend the events just for fun.


For you:

  • More exercise: Your furry friend is your own personal fitness trainer.
  • Get out more into the countryside or open air
  • Bond even more with your dog.
  • Helps improve any dog’s behavioural problems caused by lack of exercise and stimulation
  • Helps control your own weight
  • Make new friends and meet like-minded people.

For your dog:

  • Enjoys more outdoor exercise
  • Gets fit and keeps trim
  • Improves strength and stamina
  • Improves his behaviour around other dogs
  • Stimulates his brain
  • Has fun and loves you more.

Equipment: dog running leash and others

The basic equipment needed is a human waist belt harness, a padded dog harness and a 2-meter elastic towline to connect the owner and the dog/s.

Training and preparations tips

Dog and owner should build up their fitness and not attempt to run long distances together from day one. If a dog is going to do competitive racing, he should be checked for health by a veterinarian. The main risk for the dog is dehydration, so ensure you have water and a bowl with you on the run if necessary. Avoid running in high temperatures.

Canicross races

There are many different categories of competition according to age and sex of runners, size of dogs and distance to run. A typical full distance race is usually over 10km, but with there are also shorter events over 5 or 2km as well. Because dogs don’t sweat and have more difficulty losing body heat when running compared to humans, official events are held only in outdoor temperatures not exceeding 20oC.

Organisations and links: make your own event calendar

In Europe, the European Canicross Federation governs the sport:


For your interest

How much water do dogs need a day?

Many dogs seem to drink a lot of water each day. Cells and organs in the body contain about 70% water, making it the main body component.

How does heat affect dogs and cause heatstroke?

Dogs get overheated more easily than people and this can quickly lead to physical distress known as heat stroke (hyperthermia).