I always recommend Parkruns to my clients because they are sociable, regular and fun events that are inclusive and best of all the majority are dog friendly allowing a runner to have 1 dog on a short lead.
Unfortunately not everyone likes dogs (mad I know) and it is therefore vital that a Canicrosser can demonstate great running etiquette with their dog allowing every Parkrunner participating to enjoy their run safely and harmoniously.
Here are my tips:
A full handsfree canicross kit is beneficial to both the runner's technique and the dogs. The line (lead) must be the shorter 'PR' Line of 1.2m length. Poo bags are essential and a container such as a 'Dickie Bag' or 'Poop Pot' to clip to your waistbelt is a handy investment. Always bring water and be prepared that you may want to leave it at the start and collect it at the end so don't bring it in a container of value!
2) The Course
Parkrun event websites provide a course description. Where possible try and walk/run the route before race day. Pay particular attention to parts of the route that might be narrow and cause overcrowding. Are there any particular temptations or dislikes that might cause your dog to bolt eg. if there is water Rufus will drag me towards it so I stay on the side closest to the temptation and if he makes a quick charge towards it he won't trip anyone up in the process. The best routes for your dog will be mostly grass or trail routes, tarmac doesn't always need to be avoided but is not great for your dog over long distances.
3) Before the Start
Arrive early, walk your dog around and let it get used to the building atmosphere. Keep them close to you and reward for focussing on you and sitting calmly. People might want to come and chat to your dog; use the opportunity to talk to them about the canicross kit and why you like to run with your dog.
4) Start Line
Find a suitable place to start the run by deciding whereabouts you rank in terms of pace. You can check previous results on the website to see how you compare. If you are fast paced start at the front. If people need to overtake you they will be able to see your dog in front and they can work out how to pass you appropriately. If you are slower paced then start near the back. Be mindful that there might be smaller children and less able runners at the rear of the pack who may benefit from having plenty of space from an excitable dog.
5) During the run / Running etiquette
Always keep a satisfactory amount of space between your dog and other runners.
Do not weave, keep to one side of the pack and maintain a good line so that other runners can clearly see you and your dog.
If you need to overtake make it known to the other runner that you will be passing on their side and that you have a dog.
Don't let your dog get too close to other participating dogs to avoid over excited greetings, leads getting tangled or causing triggers to reactive dogs.
Be vocal and visible, let people know if you need to do something they might not be expecting such as a poo pick up.
6) Finishing Line
You may be fed into a tight funnel that gets busy with runners waiting in line to collect their token. Keep your dog close to you at all times to avoid their temptation to lick sweaty legs (!) or upsetting other runners who may not want to be too close to a dog. Alternatively ask a family member/friend to collect your dog from you as you walk to the funnel and they can get the water ready for your dog whilst you wait for your token to be scanned.
7) Reward yourself and your dog on a job well done and wait for your Parkrun text to see how well you did!