In order to get started in canicross it’s vital for you and your dog to have the correct kit in order to train safely. Your essential canicross kit includes a belt for yourself, a canicross line and a harness for your dog. While personal preferences come largely into choice of canicross line and belts. Harness choice is very much specific to your dog breed, build and behaviour.
How should a canicross dog harness fit?
Fit around the neck
Consider firstly is your dog a strong puller? Most pressure is applied around the shoulder and neck area, therefore a good fit is essential. It should be fairly snug around the neck to prevent excessive movement of the harness, as that could interfere with breathing or shoulder movement. You should aim to be able to place a couple of fingers between your harness and dog.
Fit around the body
If fitted correctly the harness should allow full expansion of the chest, but allow minimal movement side to side. The harness shouldn’t create any sore ‘rub’ points – common areas include the armpits!
The length of the harness can vary and it’s down to the individual dog, however you should avoid the point of attachment going beyond their pelvis.
Always seek advice from experienced ‘canicrossers’ when fitting your dog with a harness. A lot of canicross equipment stockist will be happy to advise or even carry out a fitting for your dog.
What should you look for in a canicross line?
This is the line that attaches you and your dog. It’s usually a bungee in order to prevent sharp movements that could cause injury to you or your dog. If you’re considering entering competitions in the future, it’s worth bearing in mind that for European competitions your line must be a bungee and no more than 2m when extended. It may also be worth considering a line with a handle in case you need to hold your dog back.
A few canicross lines we tested included:
- Dog Fit’s Canicross Bungee. It comes in two lengths 1.2m (suitable for parkruns) or 2m. It has a useful handle for extra control. The line uses a swivel trigger clip for attachment to your dog.
- Nonstop Touring Bungee. It comes in variety of lengths and two different widths which help tailor the ‘fit’ to your dog breed and size. The attachment is via a secure swivel twistlock carabiner.
- Arctic Wolf’s Bungee Line. It is around 2 metres when stretched and is available with either a trigger clip or twistlock carabiner. There are 4 different colours to choose from. The handle on these are also great for times when you need extra control.
What is a canicross belt?
Your canicross belt is what attaches you to your dog. It comes largely down to personal preference with the fit of these. The majority of them consist of an adjustable waist band and leg straps. Some are lighter than others, while the heavier ones tend to be more padded. Some have pockets which can be useful for car keys, poo bags, your phone etc. Different harnesses will apply pressure in slightly different places and again it’s just down to what’s more comfortable for you.
A few canicross belts we tested included:
- The Neewa canicross belt. This is a very lightweight belt made of hardwearing mesh and webbing. The ‘waist band’ (although it actually sits more on your hips) is adjustable, as are the leg straps. It comes with a small zipped pocket ideal for keys and poobags.
- The Dragrattan Ergo canicross belt. This belt is much more padded and the straps are wide which distributes the pressure well. There are no pockets on this belt.
- The Nonstop CaniX belt. This belt is the most complex looking belt, but is made up of the usual components. It comes in two sizes both of which have adjustable waist bands and leg straps. The belt has some orange accents and an envelop style small pocket for poobags or other small non valuables.
- The DogFit canicross belt. This belt consists of an adjustable wait band and leg straps. It has a large zipped pocket which will fit phones, keys etc in.
Other useful items for canicross
There are a few other items which may prove to be rather essential for your canicross adventures. Don’t forget it’s a legal requirement to pick up after your dog, which makes poo bags essential. Depending on your route you may need to take water with you. Spare leads can be useful for those unforeseen circumstances!
Before starting canicross with your dog please seek advice from your veterinary surgeon about your dog’s suitability and fitness levels. Always start training slowly and ensure you dog’s growth plates are fully formed. They’ve usually formed by the time the dog has reached 12 months of age, but it can vary from breed to breed so always consult your veterinary surgeon.