In a brand new blog series, we hear from long-standing and experienced DogFit Trainer, Lara Trewin, who will be sharing all the things she has learned about Canicross and the successes she has had with helping others to enjoy this wonderful sport. We hope it gives anyone considering joining one of our classes the reassurance and motivation to take the next step. But also, for anyone already doing Canicross, we hope it provides some useful advice and some relatable experiences.
Why I love teaching Canicross
The great thing about Canicross is that it can be incorporated into your life easily with your dog as you both enjoy being outdoors and moving more together. All dogs need exercising and, to me, it is always a win win situation as it not only allows me to keep fit but also means I get to exercise my dog whilst doing something I enjoy. As a DogFit Canicross Trainer, I get to go to work each day with my best run buddy whilst motivating others to start their adventures in a safe, social and fun way.
How I found the sport of Canicross and DogFit
The hardest part of Canicross for me initially was understanding which pieces of kit to look for. I’m ashamed to say, I started out with a cheap running belt (yes, it went around my waist), a bungee line and a cheap harness for my dog. I could instantly feel that I had a great run partner on my hands, she’s a strong puller and my kidneys felt bruised after my first run, not to mention my lower back which had to take a lot of the pressure. I knew I needed help finding the correct kit for the sport I wanted to do with her.
That’s when we came upon DogFit.
Why I became a DogFit Canicross Trainer
One of the many reasons I became a DogFit Canicross Trainer was that I had sooo many questions when I was first looking into running with my dog. I was already an experienced trail runner. I knew that there must be so many others like me out there who were also needing advice and support not only with the running side but with advice about the correct kit set up, being able to be reassured that I wasn’t going to get dragged along by my dog and just to gain confidence within a non-competitive environment.
I’m Lara and I’m a DogFit Trainer in Bude, North Cornwall. I have been in the privileged position of seeing humans and their dogs take their first steps into Canicross for over three years. No two teams are the same. I’ve helped those with reactive dogs, those with confident, high-energy dogs, tripawd dogs and lots of family pet dogs start their Canicross adventures with their humans.
The two most frequently asked questions are:
“Won’t my dog pull me over?!”
“How do I start, I’m not even a runner?”
Who the sessions and classes are suitable for
As a DogFit Trainer, I notice frequently that confidence is an area which I can help people with. Helping those that have never run before or supporting those who are worried that their dog will be too big / too small to take part and “do it properly”. All levels of fitness and dog breeds can be introduced to the sport, we always ensure everyone is catered for and feels comfortable. Just having someone with them, reassuring them that they will be ok, means they can get past the first hurdle. Don’t let a lack of confidence put you off, we were there once and know how daunting it can be sometimes with so much information out there.
We also find runners who are used to running solo enjoy the social element of a pack run for their dogs as well as finding other routes and trails to explore with others.
Many nervous/anxious dogs gain confidence from a group run as all the dogs are under control, with a clear job to do. This allows many dogs to build confidence through the activity whilst they are in “work mode” and in a safe environment. It very often increases the bond between owner and dog as teamwork is part and parcel of the activity, working towards a common goal, it really can become highly addictive, so you’ve been warned!
What I love about my job
Meeting new people and their dogs shouldn’t be classed as work for me as it really is what I enjoy most about what we do. It’s wonderful to see the smile on people’s faces once they know they are in safe hands and start working together with their dog. The joy the dog gets from the activity ensures the owner reaps the benefits too. I especially enjoy seeing the progress people make through our Couch to 5k programmes, to see someone go from zero to 5k together with their dog never fails to inspire me.
To witness the change in a nervous/anxious dog can be a real highlight. Working alongside their owners in an activity that allows them to use their brain as well as their physicality can improve their confidence over time. I’m always blown away by the successes we’ve seen for these dogs through Canicross.
I have a real passion for what I do. I enjoy being outdoors, exploring the beautiful coastline and trails I’m lucky enough to have on my doorstep and to encourage and support people to enjoy the same is really what gets me out in all weathers!
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