Add Canicross to Your Cross Training Routine for Perfect Performance

Kevin Roberts
by Kevin Roberts
Canine sports are a team effort – you and your dog are working together to reach physical goals and exceed expectations. If you’re stuck in a rut, canicross is the next step in your cross training workout.

Cross training, which is when an athlete trains where two or more sports in order to improve fitness and performance, has never been more popular. Most partake in running, cycling and swimming to reach and push beyond their physical limits. The same can be said about dog sports. When you and your dog focus on just one sport, the results can be stagnating. Take your canine performance to the next level – canicross fits perfectly into your workout regime.

Canicross is a team sport – you work with your dog to conquer the trails. It started off as a way to train lead dogs for sled teams. Mushers attached themselves to a dog in harness, and enjoyed the increased confidence in their lead dogs during training. Exercise releases endorphins, and mushers quickly realized that running one-on-one with their lead dog quickly strengthened their bond. Another benefit noticed by the early trail-blazers in canicross was that the on the human end – mushers found themselves more fit. They were able to better help their teams and become faster overall. The benefits of canicross aren’t just for sled dogs, they can be enjoyed by any dogs participating in dog sports. Flyball, agility, herding, hunting, disc and dock diving dogs, and handlers can all enjoy the benefits of cross training in canicross!

Related: Dog-Powered Running: Get Fit With Canicross

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should add canicross to your cross training workout:

No Size Limit

Any dog participating in dog sports can enjoy canicross! While a 20 pound Jack Russel may be too small to pull a sled, putting him in harness and going for a canicross run will allow him to experience pulling, without doing damage to his small body, or bruising his big ego.

You don’t need much gear

Getting outfitted in canicross gear is simple. A properly fitted and padded harness, a line with a bungee, a belt and a good pair of running shoes – that’s all you need. The simple amount of equipment is ideal if you’re already involved in dog sports, as you have likely spent most of your money on gear for your chosen sport.

Related: Feel The Burn: Canicross In The Snow

Energy burnout

Your sporting dog is no doubt full of energy, and maybe some days, a little much to live with. You know that the key to keeping your home sane is to exercise and train your dog. But too much intense training in your chosen sport can lead to burnout. Over-training pushes your dog from the point of tweaking performance, to being tired or bored, and learning bad habits or bad attitudes. Teams that cross train in canicross enjoy the benefits of exercise and mental stimulation, while still keeping training session in their chosen sport fun and fresh. Canicross is a different kind of work out, so it still allows for exercise, but not burnout.

Increased confidence

Cross training in canicross allows for dogs to gain confidence, which will cross over to other sports. Canicross is a team sport, but one where the dog is in the lead. Taking directions from the human end, the dog is the first one running down the trail. It takes a confident dog to lead the way. Want to push your dog out further and faster? Canicross will get your dog used to working out ahead of you.

Dog gets fit, you get fit

Want to shave time off your agility run? Take your dog to the next level in disc? Beat your personal best time on the flyball lane? Canicross is the ultimate in resistance training. A dog pulling in canicross can be likened to running while carrying weights. It’s a better workout than a simple free run, and because your dog is attached to you, you can easily control the speed and distance. Essentially, you’re creating the perfect cross training exercise program. An added benefit is that while you are focused on your dog’s fitness, your own fitness level will increase. This is defiantly going to mean an improvement to your team’s best time and performance. You’re a huge motivator to your dog. If you can increase your performance out there on the field, being in position just a second ahead of your usual time, this will transfer to your dog’s performance.

If a disc dogging session leaves you panting and laying on the ground, you are seriously limiting your dog’s practice time, and possibly even their motivation. Dogs pick up on our cues, and if you are signaling that you are exhausted and not having as much fun, that is affecting your dog’s performance. You owe it to your dog to get in shape.

Kevin Roberts
Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: "Get outside and play with your dogs!

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