At DogFit, we welcome all dogs to our classes. In particular, we have witnessed first-hand the many benefits it brings to rescue dogs; as well as giving them much needed physical and mental stimulation, it helps expedite the bond with their new owner.
DogFit Trainer, Lara Trewin, has a rescue dog of her own, a beautiful GSP called Tilly. In this blog, she shares their story, from Tilly’s initial lack of socialisation skills and trust in people through to her complete transformation into a happy, active and loving dog…all as a result of plenty of love, guidance, time….and of course Canicross!
When Lara met Tilly
I’ve enjoyed running for over a decade, yet as family and work life took over, my runs had become short, infrequent and, quite honestly, not as enjoyable. It almost became another chore to tick off the list. This was not the running I knew and loved.
I couldn’t be further from those days now. Since I adopted our girl from Spain four years ago, my running has become regular and immensely enjoyable and fits perfectly into my day.
As a rescue dog who had only known life in a Spanish pound (she was born there), Tilly had many behavourial issues due to her lack of socialisation and her neglect in her early years. She was unable to look me in the eye for the first few months of being here and she was not food orientated at all. She had no idea how to play, so using toys or food to help with training was pretty much a no go and her socialisation skills were extremely limited.
Canicross enabled me to stimulate her mental as well as physical requirements and most importantly, start working on building trust and a cementing a bond together.
How Canicross helped transform Tilly’s life around
One of the biggest advantages of Canicross is that you can still exercise your dog without letting them off the lead. This was a huge reason why I started Canicross. It gave me the opportunity for Tilly to enjoy a good run and burn off some energy whilst supporting her growth in confidence and building a bond with me. She would have bolted in the first few weeks if I had let her off lead outside a secure area, so for us to explore more, I had to find a way to adventure together safely. This gave us that.
Canicross can transform the lives of many dogs (alongside their humans) because it ticks so many boxes for dogs who need the mental and physical stimulation the sport brings.
I started to see, quite quickly, that the bond we were forming was growing daily. Whilst she was in the Canicross harness and focused on a “job”, Tilly learnt to trust and to build confidence in her new surroundings. She also had very little muscle tone, so we took it slowly and trekked alongside running to build up her muscle.
I enjoyed trail running and ran distances from 5k to ultras but nothing prepared me for how much I was going to enjoy the company of my canine athlete. The change it made to Tilly’s world was remarkable too. We have formed a very tight bond through working together and after years of training, I’ve even seen huge improvements in her recall and self-control and for a high-prey drive, nervous dog this has been a joy to see.
How you can get started
The cost of the entire kit comes in at under the cost of a pair of trainers, which in my mind is a great investment. Not only do I run Tilly in the Canicross kit but I can also walk her hands-free with it (known as Canitrekking) for longer hikes or for stretches of coastal path near where we live. There are no limitations to where we can adventure as she is under my control throughout.
We now support others to get started on their Canicross adventures together. Alongside DogFit trainers all over the UK and beyond, we have regular face to face classes in addition to DogFit’s online coaching and courses. There really is no reason why you will ever have to run alone again!