What is Canicross?

Do you want to practice canicross with your best friend? Read on for the ultimate guide to this excellent sport at Mushing.com.

Canicross is cross-country running using dogs to generate power and increase speed. The sport originated in Europe as a method of training dogs for mushing, or dog sledding, during the summer months.

Canicross is a great way to exercise a high-energy dog that requires a lot of energy and can help you provide a better quality of life for your dog and make them more content.

So, what is required to start practicing canicross with your dog? Keep reading for a complete guide to canicross, including the canicross gear you will need, the benefits it can have for you and your dog, and which dog breeds are best suited to canicross.


Let’s dive in and look at what canicross is, the benefits of canicross, and how you can train your dog for canicross.

Canicross Definition

Canicross is a dog sport that involves a human and a dog cross-country running. The dog pulls the human along, increasing their speed and stamina. Canicross was adapted initially as an alternative to dog mushing in the summer months.

Canicross is an inexpensive sport to practice with your dog – you will need running shoes, a harness, a waist belt, and a bungee rope.

You can perform canicross with one or two dogs connected to your waist belt with a bungee rope that helps to add resistance and prevent strong dog pulls from unbalancing the runner. If your dog is well-trained and you are unlikely to experience strong pulls when they get distracted, you can also use a regular tug line without bungee elements.

Canicross Benefits Explained

Canicross is a great exercise with many benefits for dogs and humans. High-energy dogs like Huskies, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Border Collies require particular exercise to stimulate their minds and bodies, as these breeds were designed to perform tasks.

Exercise is essential to ensure your dog has the best possible quality of life, and canicross allows you and your dog to work together and communicate while performing high-intensity exercise.

One of the great things about canicross and canicross races is that they can be performed anywhere – you can take a break from city life and visit some scenic places with your dog. You can perform canicross on the beach, in the woods, or at your nearest national park.

Canicross is a great way to spice up your cross-country dog run, and preparing for canicross races can be a great way to motivate both you and your dog to exercise more. Canicross is a great sport to train your dog for other dog sports like mushing and skijoring. It can help keep their fitness levels high in the summer months.

Learning About Canicross Training

To successfully start canicross training with your dog, they must possess basic training and obedience skills. You can begin your canicross training by ensuring your dog has good leash manners and listening skills. You should also ensure that your dog does not get distracted when running past strangers and other dogs, as this could cause you to become unbalanced while running and potentially fall.

Once you have these basic things down, you can start training your dog for running using movement cues such as ‘speed up’ and ‘slow down’, which will help to ensure synchronicity between you and your dog while you are canicross running. Then, you should invest in the proper canicross gear to keep you and your dog safe while on a run.

Once you have all this down, you can start running and practicing canicross with your dog. The more practice you have, the better your teamwork will be!

What do you need To Practice Canicross with your furry friend? 

You need the proper equipment to start running with your dog and practicing canicross. This includes a dog harness, a bungee rope, and a waist belt.


When choosing a canicross dog harness, it is essential to consider the size of your dog and the routes you will be running – for instance, some harnesses are best suited to straighter routes without bends.

Perfect Fit Harness

The perfect fit harness is an X-style harness designed to keep your dog comfortable, promoting free breathing and evenly distributing pressure throughout the body. It has eight adjustment points to ensure your dog’s harness is a ‘perfect fit.’ The harness has extra padding around the neck and chest area to provide maximum comfort and is suitable for all dog breeds. This harness makes it easier to dress dogs with large heads that may not fit easily into conventional harnesses.

Adjustable Racing Harness

The Neewa adjustable racing harness is an H-style dog harness designed to distribute the pressure of dog pulls evenly throughout your dog’s body. This harness is designed to provide speed in races and isn’t well-suited to routes and courses with directional changes.

The polypropylene fabric of this dog harness is anti-allergenic and provides a dry fit to keep your dog dry for comfortable pulling. It also has reflective strips to ensure your dog is visible at night. The adjustable racing harness will fit any size dog and has adjustable chest and back sections to help create a perfect and comfortable fit.


Here are some other equipment you will need to practice canicross with your dog. When choosing a tug line, you have two options – a tug line with a bungee or without a bungee. Here we will discuss the benefits offered by each type of tug line to help you understand which is suitable for you and your dog.

Canicross Belt

The canicross/skijoring belt was designed for canicross and skijoring but works well for all kinds of summer and seasonal activities. This belt is designed to help runners in a canicross race achieve their potential and have optimal performance. The belt is compliant with canicross regulations and, therefore, meets the standards used in canicross events.

The belt comes with a back pocket and reflective strips, allowing the runner to be visible after dark. The fabric of the belt is breathable, lightweight, and non-allergenic for maximum comfort and can accommodate a waist up to 40 inches.

Racing Tug Line With Bungee

If your dog can speed up, slow down, or halt at a moment’s notice, the bungee racing tug line can help you avoid strong pulls when training sled dogs and performing canicross. The raging tug line with a bungee element is lightweight and can absorb shocks caused by your dog’s movements while you are running together.

The leash is equipped with a snap hook for optimal safety so that you can detach yourself from your dog immediately. The bungee tug line is 6.5ft and can be extended to 8.2ft if necessary.

You can use this tug line for canicross, skijoring, mushing, and bikejoring. This is the ideal tug line for training sled dogs and performing dog sports.

Racing Tug Line Without Bungee

The racing tug line without a bungee is ideal for intensive runs. There is a quick-release snap hook for maximum safety when running with your dog at the runner’s end. This tug line complies with the regulations and standards of international canicross and dog sledding federations. This tug line suits skijoring, canicross, dog scootering, and other summer adventures!


Before starting your canicross journey, you need to know what breeds are best suited to performing canicross. This goes for all kinds of dog activities. There are some qualities you should look for when determining if your dog would be well suited for practicing canicross:

  • Breed – you should research your dog’s breed to educate yourself on the breed’s history and its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Size – the size of your dog matters when it comes to canicross. Medium-sized dogs are the best suited for canicross. Dogs with long or short legs generally make difficult running companions. However, terriers tend to make excellent running companions, so size isn’t the be-all and end-all for running.
  • Physical traits – some physical features indicate that your dog may struggle with canicross and other intense dog sports. For instance, if your dog is a bulldog or short-nosed breed, they may struggle to breathe while running, making them less ideal for the sport.
  • Energy – researching your breed will give you an understanding of their energy level. Canicross is well-suited to high-energy breeds that need intense daily exercise to sustain their mental well-being.


The beauty of canicross is that it is suitable for most breeds. Before joining any canicross clubs, you must ensure that your dog is in peak physical health and has the fitness level to perform this level of exercise. We recommend visiting the vet to check up on your dog’s health.

It is an excellent idea to start practicing canicross competitively to understand which breeds are best suited to the sport and likely to perform well.

Border Collie

Border Collies are designed to herd sheep and, therefore, have high energy levels. The Border Collie is a fast breed and thrives on challenging physical exercise. If you own a Border Collie, you must provide mentally and physically stimulating activities to help them feel more content at home. Canicross is a great resource to give Collie this mental and physical stimulation.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers were bred to collect small games during country shooting and have the amazing capacity to carry an egg in their mouth without even breaking it. The Labrador retriever is a high-energy dog that performs well on medium-length runs and sprints.


This dog breed is athletic by design and can cope well with heat, so it can run in all seasons (ensure they have a nice fresh bowl of water waiting for them at the finish line!). If you have a lot of stamina and want to start practicing intense canicross sessions with your dog, the Weimaraner will undoubtedly be able to keep up!

German Shepherd

This breed is designed to be extremely intelligent and, when trained well, can be the perfect canicross companion. This breed is naturally hard-working and performs exceptionally well in canicross events.


If you’re looking for an accessible sport that’s easy to get into with your dog, then canicross is for you. Minimal equipment is required, and you can provide the ultimate exercise experience for your dog to improve their mental and physical health. Exercise is essential to forming a bond with your dog and providing the best possible care for your pup.