Canicross: what about Fido jogging along with you?

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Canicross: what about Fido jogging along with you?

Have you ever considered taking your dog along for a run? That is what we call ‘canicross’, an ever more popular sport to the great delight of many doggies. Discover this discipline now and tips to practice canicross.

In this article, we will introduce you to an ever more popular activity: ‘canicross’. A sport that brings jogging and walking the dog together. Canicross has now become quite popular in Belgium. We met Jérôme Lafourte, a seasoned runner who has taken part in many canicross competitions and won several medals so far. He just can’t get enough! He will give you some advice to get started. We also met Christophe Dubois, an amateur runner who knows the Ardennes like the back of his hand and who undoubtedly will spark your interest in this activity.

Why jog with one’s dog?

Have you really never considered jogging or walking with your dog? Canicross has many benefits for your animal. It allows it to socialize and avoid isolation. This activity indeed brings your dog in contact with other persons and animals. It is also a good opportunity for Fido to unwind and for the both of you to develop complicity.

Christophe explains the reasons why he decided to jog with his labrador, Paco : « I like jogging and I enjoy going out with my dog. Since I go jogging every week, it just seemed logical to take it with me.

According to Jérôme, this activity has many benefits: “I have always been sporty but I wanted to do some sports differently. That’s how I started ‘canicrossing’. It’s very satisfying to be able to jog with your dog. But not only. It is also more motivating to jog in twos with your dog. For those feeling insecure when running in the woods, for example, the dog may be a reassuring presence.

There is always a good reason to take your doggie along!

« I like jogging and I enjoy going out with my dog. Since I go jogging every week, it just seemed logical to take it with me.” – Christophe

Copyright : Ludo Daems

How to prepare for some ‘canicross’?

Although all dogs have a natural ability to run, one should go slowly at it. Start with short distances (2 to 4 km) before moving on to longer routes. If your dog is in traction mode (i.e. if it is attached to you), it may run up to 8km. If it runs freely, the distance may even go up to 15-20 km.

Christophe, our amateur jogger, explains. “I waited until my dog was 9-12 months old to start running with it. I did not want to hinder its growth. My dog was healthy. We started with short distances and the dog kept pace quite easily. We have an indefatigable dog.”

There are a few rules to respect before jogging with your dog. Jérôme states:

  • Make sure your dog is in good health
  • Do not jog when the temperature exceeds 20°C. Dogs don’t like the heat.
  • Wait until the dog has digested its meal before making physical efforts.
  • Do not feed it right after the effort in order to avoid stomach problems.
  • Give your four-pawed fellow much water.
  • Use quality material adapted to both men and animals.

« It is easy to avoid bitumen. That kind of ground is not good for dogs. There are a lot of paths adapted to the paw pads of your dog. You may also take advantage of water holes on your route. » – Jérôme

What equipment do you need for canicrossing?

Good equipment is essential to jog with your dog. There are very few locations where you may let your dog freely run around. You will indeed need to effectively attach your dog to a harness and yourself to a shoulder belt with an extensible tether in between.

If you wish to let your dog freely run around, be cautious! If your dog has a hunter instinct, you must be able to call it back if needed. There is lots of game in the Ardennes forests.

Where to run with one’s dog?

The Ardennes region is a wonderful playing field! “The Ardennes region has exceptional natural resources for ‘canicross’ practice. It is easy to avoid bitumen. That kind of ground is not good for dogs. There are a lot of paths adapted to the paw pads of your dog. You may also take advantage of water holes on your route. Not mentioning the landscapes!”, Jérôme explains.

Christophe enjoys running in the Warche valley in the region of Malmedy. He shares one of his best tips with us: “Each pedestrian path is good for this practice. You may opt for forest paths, single tracks, etc. The paths and landscapes are diverse. In the region of Malmedy, Stavelot and Trois-Points, there are many pre-defined ‘Extratrails’-routes. These are great routes to be shared with your dog!”

You will not get tired of all those pedestrian paths. According to your dog’s endurance abilities, choose a more or less difficult route. The Ardennes region is not flat at all! Choose then your route according to your wishes. For example, discover the easy 4km-walk proposed by Josiane and Antoine for unforgettable moments with your four-pawed fellow. ?

Find a nice holiday home for you and your dog

Do you feel like testing canicross in the Ardennes region for a weekend? Would you like getting some practice with Jérôme? Book now a dog-friendly holiday house for sporty moments full of complicity!