Dogs do love to run and they make the perfect training partners. By using the principles and guidelines for safe Pawdic walking and canicross you are creating a beautiful bond between you and your dog, whilst getting fitter and stronger. Dogs are for life and so is good health.
My first top tip is invest in a comfortable harness for you and your dog. I use the Zero DC short harness for the dog as it is soft and easy to slip on, but not slip out of. I wear the Non-stop Comfort belt as it fits over the bottom, without unsightly bulges! The pull distribution from the dog is taken across the buttocks, where my centre of balance is and I can move with confidence and no fear of falling over.
Depending on my speed I may use a 2 metre bungee line for fast work or a 1.2m bunny line for slow work or manage my dog in a pack better or on narrow paths. This does sometimes get tangled with the poles if the dg is not in the mood for running forward.
Tip 2 – never run with treats. It sends wrong messages about what the treat is. Plus Annie can smell them and will play up to get at them! Treats are enjoyed back at base.
Tip 3 – never let the poles touch the dog. They will not know it was an accident. Your dog should know what they are before your walk with your dog and be relaxed with them. Proper nordic walking technique should be adopted using the poles 45 degrees behind you for the propulsion.
Tip 4 – watch your dog’s body language at all times so you can react before they either play up, react o need to be praised. For example, a forward moving dog runs forward with nose up and facing the front. If the nose goes down to scent or to the side, place the command to “leave it” the split second the nose moves out of track, usually in a stern voice, and then when the nose is back on track put in the command to ahead/mush with a happy voice. How you react will determine how quickly the dog will learn to move forward without zigzagging.
Tip 5 – keep commands simple and just a word. It’s not a bit a conversation. I also use my language so I am not worrying about what the technical or “proper canicross” word is. I say left or right, not haw or gee!
Tip 6 – Keep it fun. If the dog is not performing then just stop. Do not turn it in to an ego (yours) trip and try to force the dog
to something it is not in the mood for.
Tip 7 – wear shoes appropriate for the terrain. Do not skimp on this essential tool of the sport. You will slide on mud in pumps! Trail shoes are perfect.
Tip 8 – wax up the dog’s paws to keep them healthy. Mud and salt can have a devastating affect on paws and dry them out. Plus, if licked, salt is harmful. Especially the salt thrown down on icy paths and roads. I also use paw wax on
my feet to keep them blister free!
Tip 9 – reward the dog with something absolutely sensational and that you only use for canicross. Annie loves venison sticks and she has that when she is towelled down and resting after her fun run.
Tip 10 – Water! Seems obvious but not a lot of people bring fresh water for their dog. They allow them to just lick at puddles on route! I also try to get my dog to slow slurp rather than guzzle. She tends to throw it back at me if the she drin
ks too quickly.
Tip 11 – Annie cools down fast so I pop a fleece rug on her after she is towelled. She is a saluki whippet cross lurcher with little fur and skin. Be aware of how the core temperature can fall even on fluffy big coated dogs.
I could add more tips but I hope this helps. I love sharing these ideas I am so passionate that people should combine wellbeing and sport activities with their family and dogs.
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We also have our sister company, Pawfitness, that is for people who prefer to run or power walk with their dogs, without Nordic Walking poles.