How to start training for canicross

Thinking of giving canicross a go and incorporating it into your off-season training regime? Then check out these top tips

How to train your dog for canicross

Canicrossis a great way to mix up your training from September to April and help keep you motivated to maintain your fitness. It is also a different way of stimulating your dog.

  1. To maximise your experience we suggest teaching your dog a few basic commands. These could include get on, left, right, steady, stop. These are just a few suggestions and there are many more commands which your training would benefit from.
  2. Try to avoid running for prolonged periods on the tarmac as this can lead to joint damage from repetitive impact for your four legged friends. Equally, very ‘stoney’ paths can cause injury to your dog’s paws, natural earthy trails are best for dogs. You can get paw balm and boots to cover and help protect their paws.
  3. Be mindful of the heat. Dogs can’t sweat and so easily overheat. It’s important to not run with your dogs on warm days to prevent heat stroke.
  4. Try to plan routes that have some access to water to allow your dog a quick drink on longer runs.
  5. Build your dog’s fitness slowly, running around in a park is different to steady continuous running. You will need to steadily build your dog’s fitness, so consider starting with a couch-5k plan to meet your dog’s needs and increase their fitness carefully.
  6. A warm up and cool down consisting of 5 to 10 minutes slow lead walking will help to prepare your dog for exercise and help to prevent injuries.
  7. If you regularly practice canicross particularly for longer distances or if you compete, it would be worth consider maintenance physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. These are excellent ways to keep your dog conditioned, fit and healthy.
  8. Having the correct kit is suitable to practice the sport of canicross safely. See our article on canicross kit and trail running kit for more information.
  9. It is highly recommended that when getting started with canicross to seek advice relating to kit and training from professionals. You can have kit fittings from companies, like K9 Trailtime, and there are canicross training classes suited to all abilities. Visit Dogfit for information on how to get connected with a coach in your area.
Canicross lessons

10. Most importantly… have FUN! This should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog.

Good luck!

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 have  usually formed by the time the dog has reached 12 months o0f age, but it can vary from breed to breed so always consult your veterinary surgeon.


Images by Non Stop Dogwear and Dogfit