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Canicross = Cross country running with dogs

Canicross = Cross country running with dogs

Began as a way of training sled dogs during the off season, when there’s no snow, before becoming a sport in its own right. 

Canicross is accessible to everyone and suitable for all dog breeds, though especially suited to sporty dogs; it combines the pleasure of exercise with the pleasure of getting outdoors with your dog.

As with all sports, training for both runner and dog obviously needs to be tailored to  work gradually towards your individual sporting goals. It is essential to create close synergy between athlete and dog so that you are, eventually, able to run at the same pace and have fun together. 

An important element of canicross training is keeping your dog motivated, right from your very first run, so that this great activity stays enjoyable for you both.

It is worth noting that the principle of pulling and running while on the leash doesn’t come instinctively to all dogs. Therefore we recommend starting with short, regular sessions of brisk walking before you gradually increase the pace and distance of your outings.

The best time of year for Canicross is from autumn to spring, avoiding the hot summer months. 

During these cooler months, many Canicross competitions are organized by numerous federations and dog clubs around the world, in accordance with international regulations, and always ensuring maximum respect for animal welfare.

Competitive Canicross races are run over Sprint distances (maximum of 7 km and minimum of 2 km, for adults and children). These distances are increased for Dog Trail races, where the length of the course – never under 10 km – must not exceed 25 km.

What equipment do I need?

In Canicross your dog is on a lead and runs in front of you. 

Runners wear a specific type of belt (lightweight and comfortable) which the lead is attached to. Canicross leads are elastic and shock-absorbing (they are 1.5m long when not stretched and reach 2m when fully extended).  Leads with an additional safety handle near the carabiner clip are highly recommended.  

Wearing a belt means that the runner always has their hands free while still having the dog under control while running. 

The shock-absorbing lead attaches to the dog’s harness (never to their collar) with a carabiner. 

When you train with your dog, choose your equipment carefully to ensure maximum comfort and safety for you both.

Here is a list of the essentials you need for running with your dog.


  • Sportswear which is suitable for the weather conditions you plan to run in 
  • Shoes

Given that you’ll be running off-road, when you do Canicross, you should use trail running shoes, preferably with grippy soles to give you more traction on slippery or muddy ground. 

  • Canicross belt

Canicross belts let you attach your dog’s lead to your waist so you can run with your hands completely free. 

The belt distributes the dog’s pulling power onto the runner and allows greater freedom of movement.


  • Harness

Canicross harnesss must be designed for sport (padded, ergonomic, comfortable, made of hypoallergenic and breathable materials, in the correct size), suitable for dogs to run in, and are different from harnesses for walking.

If the terrain is extremely treacherous and/or your dog has very sensitive paws and pads, sleddog booties are recommended. As with other equipment, your dog needs to be gradually introduced to wearing them. 

  • Kipmik Booties Duragrip for soft and/or snowy ground.
  • Kipmik Booties Cordura 500D for hard, rough terrain.
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