Things are going to be changing around here. Canicross US started as a way for me to monetize my passion. I'm passionate about running and I'm passionate about dogs. When I heard about this sport, I researched as much as I could as fast as I could then I started sharing what I learned with all of you. I did that via blogging.
I don't actually like blogging. I thought it was a necessary evil. Something i had to do to be able to spend more time doing what I'm passionate about.
I haven't written some huge number of posts but it's been over a year know and I've written quite a few and I've not made any money directly off the blog. So the blog is gone.
HOWEVER, the site is here to stay. I've found that I really enjoy designing t-shirts. Much to my wife's dismay, I like tshirts a lot and come to find out designing them is really fun.
So from hence forward my site is all about the time my dogs and I spend together. Our sports, our events, our hikes, our camping trips, our training sessions, and all of our shenanigans.
We will be focused on quality photos, updates on what we are getting into, and the sell of our t-shirts, designed my muah.
We are also going to be getting into some more competitive single person sports. Canicross will always be our main sport, but we want to branch out I to others as well. I think they will provide some great cross training. I'm thinking mountain biking, bikejoring, sup, kayaking, more marathon running, and triathlons for now. Which means some of our upcoming shirts will be about those sports as well.
I will, of course continue to answer any questions you may have regarding this sport, any of the sports we are about to get into, or about dogs in general.
I hope this interests you and that you stick around.
Thank you for taking the time to read all this.
Share us with a friend who might like what we do.
And as always, get out there and run with your best friend!
I have purchased roughly 7-10 bungee lines, looking for the perfect one for canicross. Some were too long, some too short, some had too much give, and others just weren’t the correct color. The one I acquired most recently, has been the best match for what I was looking for.
I use the Ruffwear Omnijor system. It has a great belt, great harness, and a line that is way too long for the very congested races we typically run. Thus, my search for the perfect line. As I mentioned, I went through a lot of lines trying to find the one that suited us best. Soon, I will post a pros and cons list on all the ones I’ve tried. Today, I’m tallking about the one I like the most.
Through lots of trial and error, I finally found the Kurgo 48” Springback Leash. Kurgo describes the Springback Leash like this:
Designed for active dogs and owners, the Springback Leash is the perfect leash for your next hiking trip or trail run. The leash is constructed with tough 1" tubular webbing, has a breathable, padded handle and a D-ring to clip any necessary accessories to. An internal bungee gives you an additional 6" of stretch for when Fido makes unpredictable pulls or directional changes, and it has an additional training handle if you need to grab him quickly. If trail running is your thing, the Springback Leash works well with our Go-Tech Harness (sold separately).
It is a near perfect length for our races. Kurgo also makes a 30” version that is great for someone who wants to be a little closer to their dog while canicrossing, or even better, for someone who likes to have their dog heal at their side while they run.
The shock absorbing factor, or ‘bungee’, in a canicross line must feel just right. Too soft of a spring and you and your dog are jarred during the start and at every tight turn. Too stiff of a spring is a little better but produces close to the same effect. Kurgo got this one right. It also happens to fit pretty well into our color scheme!
I tested this product with several runs, in varying environments. A 4 mile road run, a 5 mile smooth trail run, and a 3 mile rough trail run. It performed well in every environment. The only place still left to test it is in a race and I will be doing that next month in Destin, FL. I expect it to perform just as well there as it has in training. This is now my go-to canicross line for almost every situation!
Six Legs Are Faster Than Two
Even if you don't run with your dog, teaching them "Left" and "Right" can be fun and beneficial. However, these are pretty important things for your dog to know, when they are your running partner. Even more so when you are a competitive canicross team.
You're running down a trail and it forks off in two directions. If your dog dosent know "Left" and "Right" you can lose valuable time trying to get them to go down the correct path. Before I taught this to my dog, he would either choose a path on his own, or look back at me for direction. Either way, we would lose time. If he chooses a path and it is wrong, I have to correct him, there is a moment of confusion on his part, then he has to catch up, going down the correct path. If he looks back at me for guidance, he is slowing down.
I quickly realized I needed to remedy this problem. As with most aspects of training, I forwent any standard training methods and developed one on my own that I knew would work best for me and my dog. My methods are mostly tailored around the fact that my running partner is a Weimaraner and has the personality of a hyper three year old that just drank a redbull. That is fairly easily countered, however, by the fact that his bond with me is stronger than with any other dog I've ever had. He wants nothing more than to be by my side 24-7.
Any good trainer will tell you that training your dog needs to meet the specific needs of you and your dog. What works for one, may not work for another. Thats why I developed this method. My dog and I are very different from many others. Also, our goals in training are canicross specific. What I teach him are things that will make him a better runner and partner.
People often see competitive canicrossers with highly trained dogs, but they don't heel. They always pull on the leash. Well, pulling is exactly what he is supposed to do. It would be crazy to ever teach him not to, even when just out for a walk in the park. His job is to pull, and to pull as hard as he can.
Back to "Left" and "Right". This is what worked for us and it just might work for you too. There are three main motivatiors for a dog. Treats, Toys, and Praise. Some dogs only like one, some like all three. Mine only like treats and praise. He couldn't care less about toys. So our training is all about treats and praise.
To begin the training, I have him sit. I then stand behind and slightly over him with a pocket full of treats. I take out one treat and hold it in my open palm, in front of and to the right of him. My empty hand is in the same position on his left side. I tell him "Right" and allow him to eat the treat out of my right hand, and give him lots of praise and pets when he does. That step is repeated several times, then we switch to the left hand. Hold the treat in open palm in front of and to the left of him. Empty hand in the same position on his right side. Say "Left" and allow him to take the treat from my left hand. Lots of praise when he does. Repeat several times.
Once he has mastered that and you can switch back and forth between left and right, you do the same thing but with two closed hands. One contains a treat and one doesn't. Tell him which hand to choose and if he gets it right he gets the treat and praise. Repeat one hand several times, switch to the other, then mix it up. When he is good with that one do it again, but with empty hands. This takes out the possibility of him just smelling the treat in your hand.
If you want to advance this training even further, you can use two cups. One ten to fifteen feet in front of him and to the left, one the same distance and to the right. I still stand behind my dog during this step because when we are running he is in front of me. Meaning, this command will always come from behind him. Place a treat under one of the cups. Tell him the command and point to which one has the treat. Again, if he is correct, treat and praise. After several repetitions, take out the pointing and just tell him which cup to go to. Several more times that way, then dont put a treat under the cup. Just tell him which cup you would like him to go to. Correct responses are always met with treats and praise!
When you have mastered these methods, its time to hit the trails. Start by walking down a familiar trail that has an obvious fork in it. When you approach the fork point to one of the paths and give the corresponding command. Repeat several times mixing up the direction you choose and eventually taking out the point and only using the command. Now, in your normal running gear, on the same path, approach the fork at your standard pace. Give the command for the path you want and relish in the accomplishment that you have both achieved when he goes down the correct path without slowing down or looking back.
It is a great feeling to teach your dog a new command, especially when it is one that most dogs don't know. Now go run and enjoy your time with your super smart running buddy!
Running is Better
When You're Together
The heat of summer has gone, and cold weather is here. I was in the market for dog boots that would work well on the road and in the snow. We don't get a lot of snow here, in Alabama, but I wanted a boot that would fit both jobs, just in case.
As usual, when I'm looking for gear for my dogs, I turned to Ruffwear. They offer three different types of boots. The Grip Trex, Summit Trex, and Polar Trex. Right off the bat I threw out the Polar Trex. As I mentioned before, not much snow in my area.
Next I looked at the Grip Trex and was very happy to find out the sole was designed by Vibram. It looked like a great shoe but didnt have a gaiter to keep out debris. We do a lot of trail running, and while I didn't plan on having my dog wear shoes on the trail unless there is snow or ice, I still wanted to be able to keep any type of debris out of his shoes.
Lastly, I looked at the Summit Trex. It doesn't have the Vibram sole but does have a gaiter. Ruffwear describes the Summit Trex like this:
"Summit Trex dog boots provide everyday traction and paw protection from extreme temperatures, abrasive surfaces, and salt or other snowmelt chemicals. The Ruffwear-designed outsole provides flexible traction while an integrated stretch gaiter protects legs and locks out dirt and debris."
Sounded just about perfect for what I was looking for so I pulled the trigger and purchased a set.
When they arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they come with a little bag to keep them all together. I was worried that my dog wouldn't like wearing them (we've all seen those hilarious videos) but after fumbling around in them for just a few minutes, he accepted his fate and wore them as if they were not even there.
Adjusting the velcro straps can be difficult. Not too tight but not so loose that they fall off. I played it by ear on the first go around and let him walk around the house for a little while. One came off fairly soon but I put it back on, tightened the straps a little and seem to have found the perfect adjustment.
Our first road run with his new Summit Trex shoes was a success! He ignored them and trotted along happy as ever. We didn't even loose one on the three mile run.
When we got done, I took off the shoes and checked his pads and ankles, where the gaiter sits. Normally, with even just a short road run he would have significant wear on his pads. They would be smooth, when normally they are quite rough. I was excited to find no wear on his pads and no problems around his ankles.
These shoes look like they are going to perform exactly they way I wanted them to. Only a few minor things could make these shoes any better and I am very happy with them. We haven't had our first snow fall yet but I am excited to see how they perform in those conditions.
There are some inherent risks when participating in any sport. Injuries happen and, in canicross, they can happen to you or your dog. Knowing what to bring and how to use it (and actually bringing it) can give you extra time to get you or your dog in front of a medical professional.
I love training for canicross on hiking trails. Trails make us both stronger runners and better athletes while also providing beautiful views that a road just can't provide. Unfortunately, however, running remote trails sometimes puts us miles from our vehicle and an hour or more drive from the closest emergency vet.
For all these reasons, I always bring a first aid kit for me and a separate first aid kit for my dog. Each is tailored to the individual and our sport. There is a ton of information on first aid kits for people and even for runners, specifically. What I want to provide you with here is what to bring to save your dog's life, if you should ever need to.
In most cases I live by the motto:
"It's better to have and not need, than to need and not have."
This is especially true when it comes to the health and safety of my family (dogs included).
So, what do you pack in a dog specific, canicross specific, first aid kit?
Here is my list:
It is important to know when and how to use everything in your first aid kit. Take a class, read a book, do whatever you need to be able to use these items to save your dog's life, should the need arise.
For more information, questions, or comments send me an email or post your comment below.
Six Legs Are Faster Than Two.
Get Out There and Run With Your Best Friend.
This is a repeatable four week training plan for you and your dog. Following this plan will imporve your overall performance as a runner in varying distances from 5k to ultra-marathon. Distance is the only variant when training for specific races. These types of runs will work for all skill levels and all race distances.
Click below for a printable version of the Training Plan!
Running is Better
When You're Together
I get asked a lot about training for canicross in the heat. Usually the question is, “how hot is too hot?” While there isn’t one set temperature for everyone to use as a cut off, a little experimenting can provide you with the cut off for you and your dog.
I live in Alabama. It gets very hot here. Since my dogs and I are used to the heat, we can train in temperatures that some people would consider crazy. Just last week we went out on a trail run when it was 97 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index making it feel more like 105. We ran slower than normal, a shorter distance than normal, and took more water breaks than normal, but we had a successful day of training when most people wouldn’t step out the door.
Running in the heat is a very fun challenge and can be very rewarding, mentally and physically. However it does come with risks.
Let’s break down each question and see how each one plays into our training.
What is the average summer time temperature where you live?
If you live in an area where it is usually mild in the winter and hot in the summer, you may be able to take the heat better than other people. This usually means your dog can too. Generally speaking, someone from central Florida will find a run at 90 degrees to be easier than someone who lives in Alaska.
Have you and your dog trained in hot weather before?
If you have previously trained when its 85 degrees out, but set you cut off there, you can probably bump your number up as time goes on. Lots of runners try to hit the hottest parts of a day on occasion. This is known as heat training. It’s usually a shorter distance at a slower pace, but can be great for you as an athlete. If you can run a half marathon when it is 90 degrees out, you know you shouldn’t have a problem completing a full marathon at 80 degrees.
What type of coat does your dog have?
Coat type is a big factor in whether or not you should take your dog out for a run in hot weather. It is common sense that a husky will get hot faster than a yellow lab. A husky has a long, thick, dark colored (typically) coat. This coat type will get your dog hotter much faster than a short, thin, light colored coat. All of that should be self-explanatory, but it is a major consideration in the “to run or not to run” question.
Is your dog brachycephalic?
Brachycephalic dogs, like boxers and bulldogs, have more difficulty taking in large breaths. This means their panting will be more labored and, in turn, less effective at cooling them down.
Will you be running in the shade or full sun?
Obviously hot pavement should be avoided at all costs. As a general rule, if you can’t keep the back of your hand on the asphalt for 5 seconds, it is too hot for your dog to run on. Open fields, however, don’t have such a hot surface but being exposed to the sun can overheat you and your dog much quicker than running on a thickly forested trail. Stick to the shade if you can.
How much water can you carry with you, and is there water on the way?
Lastly, water. If there are lots of water sources along the trail you intend to run down, you’re lucky. Obviously, water intake is vital on hot days. If you water source is large enough for your dog to get his whole body wet, even better. Otherwise you will need to bring enough water for both of you on the run. Be certain not to let your dog gulp down large quantities at a time. Smaller more frequent drinks are preferred. Drinking too much at once and continuing on your run can cause bloat. Bloat is when your dog’s stomach flips over on itself. It is very deadly and should be avoided at all costs.
All of this is to say, there is no set limit on the temperature you and your dog can run it. You just have to know yourself, know your dog, and know when enough is enough. Learn the warning signs of a dog approaching heat exhaustion and stop before it gets to that point. If you want to brave the heat, go for it. Just don’t push too hard. Plan on running slower than normal and a shorter distance than normal, and let your dog tell you when they are done.
Never Run Alone
Beat the heat this summer and take your dog for a swim!
Swimming is a great way to exercise, bond and have fun with your dog. It is less demanding on joints and helps break up the monotony of the same old daily walk or run. Luckily, we live near a big lake but rivers, ponds, pools and the ocean will work just as well.
No recall? No problem!
If you’re not quite there yet with your recall, try using a long line when swimming. 15 to 30 feet will work best. It’s very important not to leave you dog alone when swimming and especially when using a leash. It can get caught on something and prevent your dog from being able to get out of the water when they get tired. A watchful eye and a loving partner will keep your dog safe.
“My dog doesn’t even like baths!”
Lots of dogs don’t like baths but that doesn’t mean they won’t like swimming. Baths can be stressful but it may not be the water that he doesn’t like. Try taking your dog to a lake, river or pond and see how it goes. Don’t force anything on him but give him the opportunity to swim without the stress or the tub. If he still doesn’t want to go in, try walking in with him a little at a time, with lots of praise along the way. Play in his comfort zone then coax him a little further next time. Gradually introducing your dog to swimming, in this way, can get him to be a swimmer before the summer is over!
Have fun, get fit, stay safe and swim with your dog!
The Dalmatian is the canicross loving topic of today's 'Meet The Breed'. Easily recognizable with their white coat and black spots, the Dalmatian has become a symbol of Fire departments nation wide. As it turns out, the reason for their fire department mascot status is a mystery to most people. We will uncover the mystery today.
The origin of the Dalmatian is still debated by many people. Spotted dogs resembling the Dalmatian have been know to exist in Africa, Europe and Asia throughout history. In 1700 a dog in England, know as the Bengal pointer, closely resembled the Dalmatian. Until recently, the breed was thought to hail from Yugoslavia. In 1993, however, the FCI finally recognized the Croatian roots that the Dalmatian likely has. even its name sake is the Dalmatia coast of Croatia.
Dalmatians were bred for several purposes, but found their mark in running along side horse drawn carriages. This job is the reason Dalmatians have made a name for themselves as the firehouse mascot. Back when fire departments used horses to pull a wagon full of water as their 'fire truck', Dalmatians were used to run alongside and ahead of these buggies. They would bark as they ran, alerting pedestrians of the fire wagon coming through. On scene, they guarded the buggy. Back at the fire station, they were guard dogs and rat catchers. They were so useful to fire departments,then, that they still represent them, now.
As previously stated, the Dalmatian is quite an easily recognizable breed. They are born all white, and later develop black or liver spots. These spots can be round, oval or misshapen. Round, black, evenly distributed spots are the most desirable for the show ring.
Dalmatians are large, strong, muscular dogs. Their eyes can be brown, blue, or a combination of the two. As with most canicross worthy dogs, they have long legs and a deep chest.
Dalmatians are a high strung breed. They are not at all well suited for lazy apartment life. They need tons of daily exercise and are best suited for someone who runs, hikes, and brings their dog along for all their adventures. When bored, Dalmatians can be destructive indoors, and dig huge holes outdoors. I would not recommend a Dalmatian to a new dog owner. They can be somewhat difficult to train. They need very early socialization and obedience training. However, with the right owner, Dalmatians make a wonderful companion.
Dalmatians are prone to urinary stones. Their uric acid levels are typically higher than that of any other breed. These stones can cause urinary blockage. They are also prone to some skin allergies. Most of these allergies are caused by synthetic fibers in carpets and upholstery.
The biggest concern for Dalmatians is deafness. Roughly 10-12% of Dalmatians are born completely deaf. A slightly higher percentage are born partly deaf. While it is very possible to raise and train a well adjusted deaf dog, special consideration must be made. Fortunately, a dog who is born deaf, doesn't know other people and dogs can hear. They just live their lives the way it is presented to them. In training, your body language and visual cures will be much more important to a deaf dog.
If you do adopt a deaf Dalmatian, any questions regarding their care and training can be addressed by me or any other experienced trainer.
Dalmatians are a wonderful breed for a very active person that loves to take their dog on all their adventures.
Credit for the photo goes to Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay
Leptospirosis is a disease that humans and canines can both acquire from several different sources.
Rodents are the main carriers of the disease and almost any contact with an infected animal can transfer it. This includes direct and indirect contact. For example, one of the most common ways the disease is transmitted from rodent to canine is through the consumption of infected water.
During warmer weather, the Leptospira can easily survive in stagnant or slow moving bodies of water. Freezing temperatures usually kill the bacteria. For this reason Lepto is most common during the summer months.
Symptoms of Leptospirosis range from fever to vomiting to hypothermia to kidney failure. This disease can quickly become fatal so watch for sign and see a vet if your dogs shows symptoms.
Treatments once acquired are simply antibiotics and fluids while trying to control vomiting.
Luckily there is a vaccine for the disease and care should be taken to make sure your dog is vaccinated against Lepto every year in the early spring.
Consult your Vet on the topic, especially if you and your dogs spend a lot of time outdoors.