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Listening to your dog - working as a canicross team

This week as I took Nanook out for an early evening jog, I had the chance to reflect on what it means to work as a canicross team. Having had a fairly lazy day, I was looking forward to getting out and brushing off the cobwebs for a short run. As usual, as soon as Nanook saw me putting on the trail shoes and getting her canicross harness out, she went into full excitement mode and couldn’t wait to leave the house. But when it came to getting out on the nearby fields, that all changed…

The dog who normally takes off at rocket speed and loves to run at full pelt (nagging at me if I have the cheek to want to slow down or take a breather) decided that she would much rather turn into a sniffer dog, scoping out the scents of other dogs out for walkies and the local squirrel population. Now to start with, I was a bit annoyed with my girl – it’s not often we get the chance to go out mid-week for a decent run – and I could have tried to coax her to carry on, but she just wasn’t in the mood. All Nanook wanted to do was take regular stops, sniff all the interesting smells in the long grass and leave her own ‘pee-mails’.

At that point, I paused, took stock and recalled one of the most important principles of canicross – my dog and I are a team. That means listening to each other’s needs and both of us enjoying being active together. There’s no way I should be forcing Nanook into running just for my benefit. If I did it wouldn’t be fair on her, and I wouldn’t be respecting our relationship as a team.

So in the end we turned our canicross outing into a cani-hike, took a steady pace and enjoyed each other’s company while getting some fresh air. I know that we’ll be out again to run another day, and that I’ll be listening to what Nanook needs from me just as she listens to me for her next direction while we’re on the trails together.


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