Running Safely with Your Dog with Canicross
In this week’s show, I have Michelle Mortimer from Miles with Michelle. We discuss exercising with our dogs and making sure it’s done safely for both us and the dogs! Canicross is the sport of running cross country with dogs.
Things we cover:
- What is Canicross?
- How long does it take to train your dog to run safely with you?
- Choosing the right running harness for you and your dog.
- Don’t bigger dogs just pull us over?
- What are the benefits of running with your dog in this way?
- The importance of building up slowly.
Michelle is a running coach and runs canicross sessions with local runners with dogs. Most of her face to face training is done with runners with dogs and she focuses on how to do so safely.
Hi, and welcome to this week’s polities for busy people weekly show. This week I’ve got Michelle from my shambles, my sorry, from miles with Michelle. So Michelle, tell us about yourself.
Hello. Well, I’ll introduce myself. First of all, thanks for having me on Louise, which.
So I’m a running coach. I’ve been coaching for about probably about 10 years informally now, I took my qualifications about four or five years ago. And I decided to set up I used to do it all voluntarily decided to set up my own coaching business after auto accident wants to go back to full time work. And, and we’ve always had a dog, we’ve always our older dog, Bella, she’s 12. Now she’s always run with us. And about 18 months ago, we adopted another rescue dog called puppy, and she’s a whole different ball game. And I need to keep on a lead. She’s some kind of site hound. So I’m gradually got into Kenny cross, and eventually was persuaded by somebody that I met on Twitter to train up as a leader. So I now run canicross classes locally. And I Canicross regularly with both of my dogs. And and I now teach other people to do it, especially beginners. Yeah, that’s pretty much me in a nutshell. That’s fantastic.
So your most of your coaching now is with people with dogs running with dogs, is it or yes, I do a lot of online coaching with general runners, I create training plans for people who get in touch with me online, with most of my day to day face to face work is with people who run with the docs teaching them how to do it safely.
So so I have only heard about kind of canicross fairly recently, having got back into running after an injury and having a year old partner with a dog. And he was very energetic. And it’s a great way to exercise. Keep, I do have to keep on the lead as well. So So tell me a little bit more about Canicross what how did it? What’s it? What’s it about, I suppose,
well, Canicross, essentially, it’s just running with your dog, basically, lots of different ways to do it. And it’s getting a lot more popular lately. I think with many companies, especially like dog fit, who I’m involved with helping to train beginners. And it’s always been quite as considered quite a sport. So there’s a lot of people who race with the dogs that can be cross events. And But recently, there are a lot more beginners getting into it just as a way of I mean Canicross is great for saving time. Yeah, I used to feel guilty, going out coaching running groups, putting the dogs on the head and saying I’ll see you in a few hours dogs and I thought why can’t I go out and actually take my dogs to work with me brilliant now can. And so it’s a great time saver, you can exercise yourself and your dog at the same time. And it’s fantastic for dogs that are under come freedom and the dog, specially reactive. dogs that are very highly pre driven. My dog is probably all of those being a rescue when I say hands so she she thinks it’s fantastic. And doing Kenny cross, it really helps because the dog is listening to you telling because the dogs in front of you you’re telling it commands, it has to really listen to you. So it can really help build that bond between the two of you as well. It’s It’s It’s a really good activity for both Dr. Human and how long does it take to so I have a a gum dog.
Very pro driven. I like that word because that’s what she does. So how long would it take me to train her to become a really because at the moment I run with her on and I handheld, a lead a long lead, which isn’t brilliant for my running style. Yeah. But I’m worried about having around my waist. But when she goes off when she sees something, so how long would it take to train her to think I know that you can’t say that in a harness attached to your waist. Mia. Yeah. And well, normally I’ll do courses with people complete beginners never run with drugs before. And the dogs are kind of got the hang of it after the first session is takes a little bit of. And it’s a bit different because normally, our instinct is to say to dogs don’t pull, don’t pull the train, not to pull, whereas in Canada cross because they’re attached to us at the front, we want them to pull. So once the dogs got the hang of it, it’s in this harness and you actually want it to run out in front and pull you to them. Yeah. So from that respect, it doesn’t take long to get the dog used to it in terms of building up there running. And normally we’d advise you know, six to eight weeks of just, you know, couch to five k essentially brilliant. Yeah, and the dog and up to maybe 30 minutes running.
A special harnesses that for the dog tour, because I’ve got up my dog and a harness, but I know it’s not a proper Canicross one or whatever.
Yes, there are running harnesses, I will, I’ve got the kids here, what I’ll do, I’ll show you the three bits of kit that we use so, so the doc on it’s not brilliant, my daughter sleep on the bed in there, she’s she’s tired after a run this morning. So I can’t show you the model. And what this harness essentially, it’s that way or so it looks really simple. It’s really light, its head goes through the front. Yeah, it’s nice and padded. It’s nice and comfortable. This one’s waterproof as well, along the bottom, they’re not getting too muddy. The important thing when you’re looking for a running harness, is to make sure this goes over its back its neck through here to make sure that it shoulders, shoulders will be here, shoulders, cotton restricted. There’s a lot of walking harnesses that I see. And I see people starting to run into them. Yeah, and kind of have a bar across the front of the doc shoulders. And, and it restricts the dogs movement. Because the dogs movement comes from its neck and shoulders. Right. So it’s really important when you’re looking for harness and talk somebody who knows what they’re doing. I mean, awful lot of taster sessions, I’ve got a garage full of kit where I let clients just try on loads of harnesses, see what works best for the dog. And but really just you know, if you can see a specialist website such as dog fit, we’ll be able to advise on the best kind of harness and that you know, they’re not breaking, I think this one’s about 40 pounds. So you can watch you’ll, you’ll use it, and then you’ll you’ll have that harness attached to a bungee lead. Yeah, we use the bungee lead to absorb the shock, really, when the dogs pulling their how much resistance is in that you can tell I’ve not been doing any opening night.
And and then this is a human element.
So that sits on your bottom and your legs go three straps. And then we have a little waist belt that kind of fastens around your waist there. You’re asking earlier, Louise about you’re a bit scared of being pulled over by your dog? Yeah. You think about if your whole Doug, honestly, you don’t have that much strength in your shoulders. And whereas in your hips, you’re really quite strong. And you, you know, central gravity’s lowered anyway, yeah, you can lean back, and the dog shouldn’t pull you I’ve never known anybody be pulled over. Honestly. I’ve helped teach some big dogs. And we have a German pointer who weighed 40 think he was 45 kilos and my last course. And you know, his owner was still not right. She did great. So,
- So that’s really reassuring to try this definitely. So, um, what so I’m assuming that parties would actually be really, really good for Canicross because it will call them back. So it will give you that strength. The other thing I was thinking was, so you sort of said, if they pulled too much, you gotta lean back a bit. So running style. So the thing that restricts me holding the lead is my running style, which I obviously you know, wants to get better so I can run faster. And once the dogs trained, is that usually quite, you’re quite free and you’re running your own running technique, or is it?
Yes, yeah, unless you go up and down hills like I constantly I’m going downhill with a dog wanting to pull can be quite challenging. On the flat, like, for example, we’ve got the canal narrows, and today the dog was just off and it’s brilliant, you just feel free. And because they have a helping hand, you can move your arms freely, which is a brilliant bit about being attached to the waist, and be totally hands free. And apart from having to lean back when you give that command just to say right? Yeah. And then yeah, you’re running posture is improved of anything, I think. Because they’re encouraging you to lean forward. And your speed is obviously indicating. Yes, it is. Yeah, definitely get a helping hand with the darker. Good.
Do you think it’s a really good way for people to start running? If so there’s a lot more people didn’t catch the five K and things like that, which is absolutely fantastic. Do you think running in with your dog is is more motivational? I can hear my dog in the background.
I think it’s brilliant. I know. I know a lot of people who don’t want to start running because they’re on their own. And, and having I always say you know, get a friend, you know, motivate you. And but a dog you don’t is brilliant to be able to take a dog out running. I never ever run alone. I hate running alone now, because I’ve always got my dogs for company. And it’s just brilliant, makes you feel safer as well. And I know we should, you know, we shouldn’t feel like that lady should worry that wherever on safe, but it does give you a bit of reassurance having you talk with you
now is fantastic. And as you said earlier, it kills two birds with one stone as a running coach will sort of things other things do you get people to do if they’re taking it seriously, we want to race Canicross and stuff like that where the cross training bits to you advise put
aside from Canicross. Yeah, yeah. And cross training wise, just strength work, really anything. And anything. You know, swimming, cycling, and gym work. I advise a lot of people to take things like yoga lattes, just to improve flexibility and core strength. And really, it’s about it’s just about being strong all over your body. Yes. And some running.
Yeah. And I just think people start running and then they get all these injuries. And then they think oh, why am I getting this? And there’s there’s a lot more to running. As with most sports actually.
It’s interesting you say that a bit injury often the reason people get injured when they start is they’re trying to too much too soon. Yeah. And and you do when you start getting those endorphins, if you never run before you start experiencing that adrenaline because you can you kind of want it more and you get a bit addicted to it. And it’s so easy to do too much. No, it’s just important when you started out just to you know, eliminate to every other day, especially if the dogs just starting as well, because dogs will just carry on, they won’t really tell you they don’t do they don’t tell you that it will collapse when they get home.
Their responsibility there as well. So take care, and you don’t have to start candy cross and running either I walk my dogs in my Canicross kit as well. It’s just brilliant for hands free walking. So you don’t have to just start out and you know, start running straight away. Try that. First while you’re training the commands. Yeah, so the coach to the five K’s is a really good thing to do. It says we do dog fit does an online version. If you don’t have a trainer near you. There is an online version that you can do. They’ll take you through the whole six weeks as well.
Really? Oh, I didn’t know. That’s That’s brilliant. Excellent. Good. Well, that’s fantastic. And I think I’m assuming that seat the fitness of your dog, it doesn’t actually match it matter what age they are potentially as to enter you can start.
Yeah, that’s something there is a lower age limit. So we wouldn’t advise starting Canicross with a drunk who’s younger than one year old know exactly for logic we can offer be a little bit older before the fully mature so just wait until the one wait till the bones developed. Yeah. And then. And then just start them off gently. Yeah. And then just watch them closely and listen to them. And none of my mind that’s got your cell battery, so she never stops.
Certainly no upper age limit. I’ve and I’ve got a seven year old dog and who runs with me regularly and with a client and he’s only just started a few months ago and he’s really happy. He’s really my other dogs 12 and she’s still going strong. She’s brilliant.
Yeah, that’s brilliant. I think we’ve learned loads today, Michelle, I know I have. So that’s fantastic. And it’s a great way to get out there in the countryside and, and enjoy it. I’m going to put some links below so anywhere that we can get in contact with you dog fit and also your online training which will be fantastic for people to use. That’s brilliant. Thank you so much for coming on.
Thanks so much for having me. I really enjoyed that.