DogFit guide to taking part in a Canicross event

Posted by Gail Walker, 6th February 2023

If you are planning your first Canicross event with your dog, you may not be sure how best to prepare for the race or what to expect on the day. We’ve written this helpful guide to ensure you and your dog have the best possible experience, whether you choose to race competitively or for fun.


1. Use the correct equipment

It’s important that you and your dog use the proper Canicross kit. This consists of a Canicross harness for your dog, a running belt for you, and a bungee line that attaches the two of you to each other. The equipment is important for ensuring a safe, comfortable and positive experience. If you need help with choosing a suitable harness for your dog, we offer a free harness consultation.

2.  Do your prep

Find out as much as possible about the Canicross event in advance.

As well as the distance, check out the terrain so you can plan your footwear, the likely number of participants, the route, and water stations (you may need to carry your own hydration pack).

3. Train for the distance – don’t just wing it!

Whichever distance you enter, you should build up your training gradually. This is to help avoid injury, get used to pacing and to ensure you don’t burn out after the first kilometre. It’s important to ease your dog in too.

4. Plan your ETA

Arrive at the Canicross event with enough time to do a recce of the area, to warm up and to give your dog a chance to go to the toilet. Not rushing around will also help keep your dog calm before the race starts.

Don’t arrive at the event too early if you have a highly energised/excitable dog as too much hanging around may get them all agitated. Every dog is different of course – just be mindful of the environment that your dog is comfortable being in and don’t put them under any unnecessary stress.

Tips for canicrossing in the heat

5. Consider the start line

Find out how the Canicrossers will be asked to set off at the start. Most events will offer a staggered start (such as Run Reigate) versus a mass start. But even then, if you have a particularly excitable or anxious dog you may want to consider keeping your dog to one side or at the very back until the race starts.

6. Use Canicross commands

Practising and perfecting some handy commands will make a big difference to your overall race experience, whilst also building a great bond with your dog.

Favourites such as ‘left’ and ‘right’ for technical courses and ‘with me/behind’ for those challenging downhill sections will help you race much more efficiently.

7. Be considerate to other runners

When you overtake other Canicrossers, it’s helpful to let them know you are passing. Just call out that you are coming past on their left or right and keep a good distance as you overtake (ideally keeping the line short while you do so).

8. Keep it clean

Always carry poo bags and be prepared to stop during a race if your dog does feel the need to poop. Hopefully if you’ve arrived at the event in plenty of time that has already been taken care of before the race itself has started.

Photo Credit: Jackie Burrell

9. Think about post-race provisions

After the race it’s worth having a few provisions back in the car depending on the conditions.

For example, a handheld portable shower for your dog is useful if it’s been particularly wet and muddy (if you fill it with hot water in the morning it should still be warm for when you need it), water, treats etc

10. Make sure you warm down

At the end of the race give yourself and your dog time to bring your heart rates down before jumping in the car and heading home, especially if it’s been a warm day or you have a long journey ahead of you.

11. Any doubts or questions, contact the organisers

Do contact the event organisers if you have any general questions – they are all happy to help.


That just leaves us to say the very best of luck and we hope you and your dog have the best time.

Happy Canicrossing 🙂
You can find a full list of current Canicross Friendly Events around the UK on our website here >>

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