A sport involving dogs, harnesses and communication is making the relationship between hound and human even stronger in Nova Scotia.
Canicross is a harness dog sport, where both the dog and the dog owner wear a harness and are attached by a bungee cord.
“It’s really a team sport between you and your dog and it really builds a great connection between the both of you,” said Reanne Waller, who’s been participating in canicross for the past four years.
“The idea is that they’re going to pull you, and while you’re running you’re able to tell them commands, whether to go left, right, past different dogs, and it’s just a really great team-building sport.”
The sport evolved from dogsledding, and includes variations for skiers, cyclists, hikers and kicksleders.
“You don’t have to be a sprinter to participate in this sport, which is what I think our club is all about,” said Chantal Veinotte, who’s been a canicross runner for six years.
“It’s getting out with your dog and it’s creating a bond.”
The dogs involved in the sport come in all shapes, sizes and breeds, all with one thing in common: the desire to run.
“You’ll see them running with pointers, we have border collies, we have labs, we have doodles, we have cockapoos, so it really goes to show that dogs of every size can do this,” said Waller.
The sport of canicross took Chantal Veinotte to nationals back in 2019 in Quebec. She says with the rise in pandemic puppy ownership, canicross has taken over in recent months.
“The goal of this is to try and get as quick as you can as a team, so we do a lot of work together,” said Veinotte. “The human actually ends up doing more work in a lot of ways in terms of our own individual training, because we need to try to get quicker so we can actually keep up.”
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Canicrossers in the area mainly run through the group Club DogRunnin, which holds runs at clinics at parks throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality. Both Waller and Veinotte say communication is key when it comes to building connections between runners and dogs.
“They now know the difference between when they’re hooked up to their harness and when they’re hooked onto their collar walking, so she doesn’t pull on leash walking, so that’s a big thing people ask that takes time,” said Waller.
Anyone interested is participating is asked to visit the Club DogRunnin website, where they’ll find information on how to be eased into the sport through a canicross clinic.
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