Canicross is Fun for Dogs and Runners

Canicross is Fun for Dogs and Runners

Okay, I’m a runner. I love heading out and running on trails, away from the noise and usual sights of road running. It’s where I like to be, out in the peacefulness of nature, easily distracted by singing birds (especially if I’m ready for a break). There’s something about getting out for a run, rain or sunshine, that let’s me clear my head. It’s where I do some of my best thinking. In fact, I hold my regular Monday morning meetings out on the trail (okay, my co-worker is one of my dogs, and so far he isn’t complaining). 

yellow lab dog at canicross trail race

The look of complete satisfaction after a canicross race.

Do you have a dog that likes to run?

If you enjoy running, have you tried running on the trails? Hey, do you have a dog that likes to run (or maybe a dog that runs circles around you)? Let me introduce you to canicross. This is a running partnership between you and your dog. Since this is a cross country sport, getting off the roads and onto the trails is best. Your dog wears a specially designed harness and you wear a waist belt. You’re attached to each other with a bungee line, which is important for comfort and shock reduction for both you and your dog. Trail runners are catching onto canicross because it really is fun, for dogs and runners!


woman runner and her muddy dog at canicross trail race

Both dog and runner found the mud at this race.

black dog jumping up before the start of canicross race

This dog can’t contain his excitement before the race!

runner and her dog at a canicross trail race

The trails are perfect for canicross events.

Best Breeds for Canicross

It used to be the sledding dog types that were most popular for this sport, but it has become popular with all breeds of dogs. If your dog has the desire to get out and run (much like people) and is fit and healthy, there is no reason your dog can’t do canicross. I have seen large breed dogs such as German Shepherds and Dobermans, and I have seen smaller dogs running also. There are many canine running partners that are rescues, and I love this! When I’m at these canicross events, I often hear from people that they adopted a dog, and wanted to find a fun activity that might also burn off some extra energy. These dogs are always so happy, I see it in their faces! As a dog photographer, I love seeing all types of dogs happily running with their partner, usually leading the way on the trail.

doberman jumping in excitement at canicross event

Some dogs are just so excited!


man and husky running at canicross trail race

Thumbs up from this runner and his husky!


runner with happy brown dog at canicross race

Canicross at Richard Bong State Recreation Area.


Of course, it’s always best to consult with your vet first, but if your dog is in good general health, and is old enough to run (again, check with your vet if you have a young dog), this is a fun and enriching way to exercise. A word of caution: much like how you have to build your running fitness, please give your canine partner some time to build his running fitness too. Watch your dog carefully for signs of fatigue or distress, listen for any wheezing, and certainly offer some water when you are done. Afterwards your pup will probably be settled, since usually a running dog is a happy dog!

runner and his brown dog at canicross event

This pair looked strong out on the trail.

headshot of brown dog at canicross trail race

The smile of a happy dog during a canicross race.

Canicross Events

So you’re interested in giving canicross a try, and are wondering where to go. We are so lucky to have some amazing events in the Southeast Wisconsin area. Brian Thomas, owner of Kenosha Running Company hosts regular trail running and canicross events in Kenosha County and the Lake Geneva area. These are very friendly events that are perfect for someone new to the sport. You’ll find lots of encouragement and support, and a great group of people that are just fun to be around! I love to get to these canicross events to take photos of all the participants. Who do I focus on? You guessed it — the dogs. The attached human is usually in the background, but yes I do focus on the canine part of the team. As a dog photographer, I just can’t help myself. If you’re interested and want to know what’s coming up, check the events calendar here.

man and his brown dog running at canicross trail race event

This dog seemed to barely touch the ground!



race director at canicross event

Race director Brian Thomas offers fun and inviting trail running events.

Gear for Dogs and Runners

husky wearing harness for canicross race

The look of a properly fitted harness.


Now that you’ve figured out which event you’re going to attend, you probably need some gear. Lucky for you Kenosha Running Company has a great store in Kenosha, and is one of the very few retail locations that carries harnesses for your dog and can also personally fit your dog with the best model and size. That’s right, take your dog shopping! While you’re there you can also get a properly fitting waist belt and bungee line for yourself. Now if you’re normally a road runner, you may want to consider some trail shoes. Not a necessity, but if you decide you love the trails (and I’m sure you will) you may want to consider a pair of trail shoes. 

black german shepherd wearing harness for canicross race

This harness sits well on Sampson.


black and white dog wearing harness for canicross trail race

A different type of harness, but still fitted well.

Canicross in Wisconsin Shadow Dog Photography

This dog loves to run!

That’s It!

There’s not much to it, so gear up, lace up, and take your dog running. And if your dog is more of a couch potato, perhaps you have a friend with a dog that would love to run. Canicross is a fun and exciting way for you and your canine pal to get some exercise, some fresh air, and even meet some other great people. Trail runners are an awesome group. Above all, have fun. 

If you’re looking to have stunning photos taken of your dog, get in touch here to learn more. I’d love to take unforgettable images of your canine best friend, whether you run or just hang out together.

Hi, I'm Jan

I help dog parents celebrate their best friends with adventurous portrait sessions and extraordinary artwork for their home. Tail wags and smiles guaranteed! Based in Whitewater, WI.


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