CaniSports: Tips, Equipment and Commands

Bikejoring dog mushing race. Dog pulling bike with bicyclist.

Full dog power ahead: Your dog takes the lead with CaniSports!

Dog sledge racing doesn’t just take place in bitter-cold Alaska: CaniSports guarantee fun even without snow. Before diving into this fast-paced adventure ride with your dog, here are the most important information and commands to get started with this fascinating dog sport.

The Iditarod in Alaska is the hardest sledge dog race in the world: Around 1,800 kilometres and temperatures of up to -70ºC demand everything from sledge dogs and their handlers, known as mushers. However, CaniSports in our latitudes are much more dog-friendly.

In principal, all dogs are suited to CaniSports. They improve the fitness of dogs and humans and have the feel of adventure and freedom. With the right preparation, you and your dog can also have lots of fun – without snow and fierce competition.

What are CaniSports?

With CaniSports, a dog pulls a human who is on foot or a moving vehicle. This sport can be traced back to hauling dogs, which were once considered the poor man’s horses.

In this role, hauling dogs pulled heavily loaded means of transport like carts or sledges. Nowadays they have it easier and move, for instance, scooters, bikes or training carts. Since CaniSports are becoming more and more popular, several disciplines have developed over time along with traditional sledge dog sports.

The most important hauling dog sports

  • CaniCross: Dogs and humans exchange roles with this discipline. The dog pulls the human as they run and dictates the tempo.
  • Bikejöring: This is the human sitting on a bike whilst the dog pulls it along.
  • Dog scooting: You can try out this discipline if you have a good sense of balance. The dog pulls the human along whilst they are stood on a scooter.
  • Dog trike and Sacco cart: These two options are suitable for CaniSports with more than one dog. Trikes and Sacco carts are three and four-wheeled dog carts for pulling and go down well with sociable dogs in particular.
husky pulling a bike
With dog scooting, your dog pulls a scooter on which you are balanced – nice and challenging!

Do all dogs enjoy CaniSports?

The nice thing about CaniSports is that not just Huskies enjoy them. On the contrary, all exercise-loving adult dogs are suitable for them regardless of their breed.

It goes without saying that your dog will only have fun if it is in good health. A check-up with the vet is therefore the top requirement before getting started. Particular attention should be paid to the cardiovascular system and joints.

No worries: Even dogs that aren’t in tiptop shape can do some CaniSports under professional supervision, depending on their diagnosis. This type of exercise can even have a positive effect when it comes to hip dysplasia.

How much weight can my dog pull?

Are you concerned about your dog being able to move you from the spot? Dogs are actually stronger than many people think. As a rule of thumb, a trained and healthy dog manages to pull around three to five times its own body weight.

For instance, a Labrador weighing 30 kilograms can pull around 120kg – including the vehicle.

If several dogs, slopes or difficult surfaces are involved, the calculation changes accordingly.

What requirements do I have to meet for CaniSports?

Not just dogs should be in good physical condition. If you too are fit, enjoy exercise and aren’t bothered by a bit of dirt, you’ve already met the most important requirements.

What equipment do I need for CaniSports?

Safety is the top priority with dog sports, so use special CaniSports accessories. Make sure they are a perfect fit for your dog.

Tip: Get professional help when trying on for the first time to avoid any unpleasant pressure points.

For simple CaniSports on foot or with bikes, you need the following basic equipment along with sportswear and sturdy shoes:

  • Dog harness that fits well on the body
  • Elastic lead with shock absorber
  • CaniCross: Running belt to fix the elastic lead
  • Bikejöring or dog scooting: Antennae for secure leadership

For dog trike and Sacco cart, you also need a dog cart to pull and the appropriate pulling device for one or several dogs. In addition, you should be able to recognise both types of tethering.

Tethering types in CaniSports

There are basically two options to tether dogs: rope tethering and pulka tethering. Which of the two is used depends on the type of sport:

  • Rope tethering: The dog is connected directly to the human’s running belt or a piece of sports equipment like a scooter or bike using a pulling rope with a shock absorber. A guide rod, the antenna, prevents the rope from getting tangled up.
  • Pulka tethering: What is known as a pulka bar is used for CaniSports with carts, to which the dog is tethered with a special harness. A single bar is used for dogs pulling alone. The dog walks between two external bars. If the dogs are in a pack of two, they walk to the left and right of a bar positioned in the middle of them.

What commands does my dog need to master?

CaniSports can be fast-paced, so commands are important to protect your team and those around you. Your dog should be able to hear well, because it lacks visual contact with you when looking ahead.

Quick reactions are also required in order to stop or get out of the way at the right time. Hence, use commands that are as short and clear as possible.

A summary of the most important CaniSports commands

In CaniSports, English commands are often heard from the mushers. If you would like to learn these musher commands, here is a list of the most important terms:

  • Haw: Left
  • Gee: Right
  • Over haw: Left past the obstacle
  • Over gee: Right past the obstacle
  • Come haw: 180º turn left
  • Come gee: 180º turn right
  • Go / Hike / Mush: Forwards
  • Straight ahead
  • Stop / Whoa: Stop

5 starter tips

Do the commands and equipment fit? Then you can get started! It’s important to first get your dog used to the harness and to make it clear that nothing happens without your command.

If you want to do everything right, get a canine professional to introduce you to the world of CaniSports.

The following five points are important in order to have fun from the beginning:

  1. Ensure success by not starting with too much weight straight away. Try with CaniCross and your own weight first of all.
  2. It’s best to take the first steps on deserted paths, e.g. in the early hours of the morning.
  3. Don’t leave the ground to chance. Running on surfaced forest paths is easier for dogs than slippery meadow grass or hard tarmac.
  4. Weather check: If it’s over 15ºC and humidity is too high, the sport becomes a strain and your dog is at risk of heatstroke.
  5. Offer your dog plenty of opportunities to drink and relieve itself. After training, it then deserves loving coat and paw care.

CaniSports: Strengthen your bond and keep you fit

Human affection and loving care aren’t the only elements of a happy dog’s life. Exercise shouldn’t fall short either. CaniSports are the ideal balance for people and dogs who like to work out together.

Not just the equipment used strengthens the bond between dog and owner: both have to adapt to one another and soon become a well-coordinated team. Give it a go! Our tips help you to make a start. And you can conveniently shop for the right equipment in the zooplus online store.

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