New to canicross?

German Shepherd Dog running with person behind

Whether you’re a professional runner, an occasional jogger or looking for a fun way to get active, canicross might just become you and your dog’s favourite way to get fit and explore the great outdoors.

Taking part in canicross involves you and your dog working as a team to complete a cross-country run. However, you don't have to have running experience to get started. If your dog is full of energy and loves being outdoors then join a local training class, where you will make friends and be able to go on trial runs together.

What is canicross?

Canicross is a fun, energetic and exciting new discipline within the canine world. This activity brings together both dogs and their owners from all over the country to become not only fitter but also healthier. The human participant will wear a waist belt which attaches to the dog's harness via a 2-metre bungee line. Both you and your dog will then run, with the dog taking the front spot from the start line to the finish.

What do I need to know?

The formal requirements for competing in a canicross competition licensed by The Kennel Club are quite simple:

  • Your dog must be registered with us (on either the Breed Register or the Activity Register)
  • Competitors taking part in any event licensed by The Kennel Club must familiarise themselves with our rules and regulations beforehand
  • Dogs can only start competing from the age of 12 months
When can I start training my dog?

Preparing your dog to compete successfully will take a little longer than the formal requirements. It is essential that your dog is fully socialised and that you have effective control at all times. Taking guidance from a specialist at a training club is the best way to identify when your dog is ready to start training.

How do I find a training club?

Your first step when competing in canicross is to find and join a local training club.

Joining a local club can be great way to make friends and meet like-minded people who will help motivate you and your dog to be the best you can be at canicross.

My dog is docked. Can I still compete?

The term 'docked' includes dogs which have their tails shortened for medical reasons after 2007 - these count as having been docked and therefore such dogs are not allowed to be shown/compete at events where the public are admitted on payment of a fee. Please contact Defra for further information.

What types of classes are there?

Competitions are divided into race lengths depending on the age of the human competitor. Competitors must be aged at least 6 years on the day of the competition to take part.

  • Competitors under 8 years of age can compete in races of up to 3 km (1.8 miles) and must be accompanied by a responsible adult
  • Competitors between 8 and 14 years of age can compete in races up to 5 km (3 miles)
  • Competitors below 17 years of age can compete in races up to 8 km (5 miles)
  • Competitors below 18 years of age can compete in races up to 21 km (13 miles)

Above the age of 18, the races may be split by age group at the discretion of the race organiser.

Competitors entering a race of more than 16 km (10 miles) must have successfully completed at least one race of at least 10 km (6 miles) with the same dog within six months prior to the day of the race. Proof will be required.

Next step - attending your first canicross competition

Thinking canicross might be the ideal activity for you and your dog? The next step is to attend your first canicross competition.