Once I started my Canicross adventure I realised there were many occasions when Canicross, and the hands-free kit, could have helped me enormously. It's not just about going running with a dog and this is what I've discovered so far...
Safety in Numbers
I started running in my twenties when a friend was able to persuade me to go on jogs around Battersea Park. I really enjoyed it and was chuffed to complete a 5k event which felt like a massive achievement. She moved away and I decided to take myself out on a solo run. I got followed for about 100metres by someone running in an outfit that definitely didn't suggest he was a runner. It freaked me out and my running clothes rarely saw the light of day again for a number of years. Fast forward to present day and I can honestly say that, running with Rufus attached to me, I have never felt more safe or at ease whilst out running. We go out in the dark, we follow remote trails and he pricks his ears when he hears other trail users so I have time to see who it is and decide if I'd prefer to change my course.
Remy, our Frenchie, at around 4 yrs old suddenly became a Reactive Dog. We have to exercise him less which often means keeping him on a lead. We need to keep him stimulated by taking him on new walks. We have discovered National Trust and English Heritage sites which allow dogs on short-leads. We go on hands-free dog walks to these sites, I can hold a childs hand and a coffee and still have full control of Remy. It's brilliant and he's a much happier dog.
Before my first Half Marathon I completed a 6 week running course which promised to make me a better runner. It was awesome and my technique is now more efficient, better at preventing injury and most importantly feels great. The technique includes focus on arm movement and good body posture. Neither of these would be achievable if I was holding a dog lead and trying to steer my dog to run in the same direction as me.
The reason we recommend a specific Canicross dog harness is because they have been designed for the purpose; they do not obstruct breathing, they prevent rubbing and allow the dog to pull efficiently. I have seen plenty of dogs being run with no-pull halti's, chockers or leads and collars. Once you have used a correctly fitted Canicross harness everything else just seems outdated and uncomfortable.
I'm only in my third year of Canicross, I know there is a lot more to learn and love about the sport. Watch this space! ...