I’m new to Canicross and my dog won’t pull!

Posted by Gail Walker, 1st October 2015

Most dogs will pick up canicross quickly but not all are natural pullers. That doesn’t mean that they won’t ever be good Canicrossers so don’t let this put you off from doing the sport.

Instead, try some of these useful techniques to get your dog to pull…well, maybe not the last one 😉

Most of all, persevere as it will get easier.

  • Get your dog used to wearing their harness. Go for short walks and then build up gradually into running.
  • Run with other canicrossers. The larger the group the better, as your dog will more likely pull if they are running in a pack.


A group of Canicrosser running together through the trees

Run in a group to encourage your dog to pull.


  • Stay at/near the back of the pack. You dog is more likely to pull if they are near the back or in the middle of the pack as their natural inclination is to fall in line with the other dogs.
  • Switch dogs temporarily for one that pulls. This works 99% of the time. If you ask a friend to take your dog whilst you run in front with their dog, your dog will be eager to keep up with you. This is not a long term solution but will help get your dog used to pulling and, with constant praise and reassurance, they will learn that this is the expected behaviour when they are in their harness.
  • Choose conditions more conducive to your dog pulling, e.g. ensure that it’s not too hot, that your dog is well rested, hydrated and not running on a full stomach. It’s also helpful to pick a route with few distractions.
  • Use commands. Incorporate a set of commands that they associate with canicross and specifically with pulling, e.g. ‘let’s go’, ‘forward’, ‘hike’ etc. Pick one word, use it consistently, confidently and make sure you praise them when they do pull.
  • Ask your partner or a friend (who your dog knows) to run or cycle in front of you. If you aren’t running with other Canicrossers, this is a useful technique to try.
  • Run with an additional dog that pulls. Try attaching another dog, so you are running with two. If the other dog is a good, consistent puller, your dog should hopefully fall in line to keep up.
Two dogs canicrossing side by side

Pairing up dogs sometimes helps encourage a non pulling dog to learn the ropes!

  • Pick a route where you are guaranteed to see squirrels and rabbits 😉 Not for the faint hearted – only try this if you have exhausted all other avenues!


I’m not guaranteeing that all of these techniques work for getting your dog to pull when canicrossing so try them all out to find the one that works best for you and your dog.

Worst-case scenario, you and your dog are still exercising and getting fit together! So it can only be a good thing 🙂


One response to “I’m new to Canicross and my dog won’t pull!

  1. chris caley says:

    I can confirm the last one works. My mini Schnauzer took me by complete surprise (we’re both newbies) but after he spotted a rabbit, boom!!! he was off almost pulling me over.

    im 6ft 1 and 15 stone, so not exactly a lightweight, I’ve discovered a new found admiration for my little wolf.

    Great fun though

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