I run, I love running and it’s become a big part of my life over the last 9 years.
For the last couple of years as family and work life took over, my runs have become short, infrequent and quite honestly sometimes, not so enjoyable. It almost became another chore to get done.
This was not the running I knew and loved.
I couldn’t be further from those days now. Since we adopted our lovely girl from Spain last year, my running has become regular, enjoyable and much more frequent. All through the fact that I now run with my dog with the right equipment.
As a rescue dog, Tilly has uncertainties that I can’t control through a training program like you can when you bring home a puppy. Training is an ongoing, daily part of dealing with some of the history that rescue dogs can come to you with. Canicross has enabled me to stimulate her mental as well as physical requirements and along the way we are making inroads into her training.
One of the biggest advantages of canicross is that you can still run your dog without letting them off the lead. For many people, this is the only opportunity for their dogs to still enjoy a good run and burn off some energy.
In fact many people with dogs that can’t be let off the lead tell us that canicross has transformed their lives and that of their dogs – the dogs are both happier and more stimulated.
I can tell that the bond Tilly and I are forming is growing daily, her recall as a gundog was nowhere to be seen when she arrived so I knew I couldn’t just let her free run with me as her prey drive was bonkers! Yet whilst in the run harness and focused on the run job in hand, she seemed to tame down that frenzied reaction. Quite clearly she felt she had a job to do and she did it diligently.
I could see how much this sport was suitable for many different breeds of dogs as well as anyone willing to get past that mindset of “oh I’m not a runner” and just enjoy exercising with their dogs. It also seemed like a no-brainer for me. The time it takes to walk the dog then hit the gym or run alone was combined and I was able to keep family and work commitments juggled whilst exercising the two of us.
I now lead groups ranging from 1-2-1 taster sessions, group canicross sessions and Couch to 5K programmes. I am also hoping to get an intermediates session up and running soon and start entering events. Through my certification with DogFit I have access to some amazing kit and can hire this out during taster sessions so those wishing to try it can do so at a minimum cost.
The cost of the entire kit comes in at just under the cost of a pair of trainers, which in my mind is a great investment. Not only do I run Tilly with the kit but I can also walk her hands-free with it for longer hikes.
Don’t just take my word for it about the benefits of running with your dog though. A study cited in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that owners who exercise their dogs are 34% more likely to have a higher level of fitness. This group experienced higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous activity, thus proving that owning and exercising a dog is good for you!