Frequently Asked Questions

What is canicross?

Canicross is a team activity consisting of a runner (or walker) and their dog. The term is a combination of “canine” and “cross country”. In traditional Canicross, dogs wear specially designed harnesses that allow them to pull from the chest. This means they generate more power, and they also control the amount of tension on the bungee line attached to the human runner’s waist belt. This configuration also keeps both of the runner's hands free, which improves balance—a must if the dog is especially fast, strong, or easily led off course by enticing smells.[1]

Who can participate in canicross?

Anyone who is physically able and who has a dog that is physically able to run/walk.

What dog breeds can participate in canicross?

No special breed required. All dogs love to run. If your dog’s vet says is OK for them to participate, then they are perfect for it! As well as providing the perfect way to exercise and bond with your dog, Canicross is ideal for dogs with high energy levels, behavioral issues.

Is there any special equipment needed to participate in canicross?

Nothing special is required, only a leash at minimum which most dog owners already have. Although they do make equipment that is specific for use in canicross, it is not required unless competing in a sanctioned race. 

Serious Canicrosser equipment includes a waist belt, designed to sit on the person's hips/top of their buttocks. This way, any pull from the dog comes through the hips and ensures there is no nasty jarring to the back. The dog wears a harness specially designed for Canicross built for comfort and efficiency and they are attached to each other via a 2-3 meter bungee line.[2] 

How do I get started in canicross?

Because it is a physical activity for you and your team mate, always consult with your physician and your dog’s vet to be sure you are both suited to participate. Once approved, you can start by walking with your dog on leash and graduate to running/jogging. It is a team effort so you and your dog both should be comfortable exercising while using a leash.  As you both get more practice, the relationship you build will contribute towards continuous improvements, making it easier and more rewarding as you develop canicross skills.

Where should we participate in canicross?

Ideally, natural surfaces are recommended. If you are walking of jogging slow or short distances, paved surfaces should be OK for beginners, but always be mindful of the wear on your dog pads. The more you pick up pace and distance, participating on natural surfaces are best for you and your dog. 

Where did canicross come from?

Canicross comes from the sled dog mushing community. It’s one of the activities sled dog trainers participate in to help condition their dog in the off season. These off-season activities are often referred to as dryland (because they are done when there is no snow) mushing, and sometimes referred to as urban mushing. Over the years these activities have gained popularity and are now participated by anyone and any dog type. 

Where can I learn more about canicross?

Google and YouTube will provide some great information about the activity and sport.

My dog and I are already regular runners. Does the canicross-specific gear make a difference?

Yes. The dog hardness, elastic leash/lead, and waste belts that were made specifically for this sport make it more comfortable and enjoyable for both the human and the dog. 

Where can I find canicross gear?

There are many manufacturers of dog products that can be used for canicross. Some good entry level brands are Kurgo and Ruffwear, while more advanced brands are Nonstop Dogwear and Alpine Outfitters. Here is a video on how to measure your dog for a harness:

I don’t normally run on natural surfaces or trails. Do I need trail shoes?

Trail shoes are recommended. Although not required, good traction and foot protection are important. With the rise in trail running popularity, most running shoe manufacturers have models that are meant for running on trails. 

How can I find others in my area who participate in canicross?

Visit the “Chapters” page on this website to see if there’s already a Facebook group for your area. If there is, visit their FB page and join. If there’s not, contact Macy Hunsicker here at Canicross USA to set up your own group… if you build it, they will come! 

If there is not a chapter already and your do not want to form one, try and find other local groups. Canicross is only one activity that is parts of other similar sports. These are also known as “urban mushing”, or “dryland mushing”. Members in these group often will also participate in canicross.

Are there canicross events we can participate in?

Yes, we know of more than 1500 dog friendly events around the country, thanks to The Dog Race Database at hosts a database that is very user friendly to find dog friendly events. Also, we post canicross-specific events here on this website. See our “Events” page.

Any additional questions?

If you do need help with anything else then please do drop us a line and we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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[1] Snyder, Paul. “Want to Run a Fast 5K? Let Your Dog Pull You to Greatness.” Runner's World, Runner's World, 25 May 2018,

[2] Murphy, Sam. “How to Get Started in Canicross.” Runner's World, 13 Nov. 2017,