Dog & Owner doing CaniCross in a Snowy Setting.

CaniCross Conversations Podcast

Discussing the importance of strength training for CaniCross Dogs.

The CaniCross Conversations Podcast is hosted by Michelle Mortimer and Louise Humphrey and Sophie was invited at the start of the year to feature in an episode to discuss how to recognise injuries in our dogs and how strength training can help reduce the frequency of these injuries occurring.

You can listen to the podcast episode on the link below:-
https://www.canicrossconversations.co.uk/e/canine-crosstraining/

What is CaniCross?

CaniCross is a form of cross country running where the runner is attached to a dog via a hands-free lead and two harnesses.  

Originating in Europe as off-season training for the mushing (sledding) community, it is a relatively new canine sport with the first event being held in 2000.

What are the potential injuries in CaniCross?

There has been little research on canicross compared to other older and perhaps more common dog sports e.g. agility, but a few online survey studies have been carried out during lockdown investigating the injury rate in the sport. 

As CaniCross is predominantly a forward driven and activity with little torque or twist on the body or limbs and the speed limited somewhat by the human attached behind, the injury rate is lower than other canine sports <22%. Most common injuries identified were front foot pad injuries. 

Interestingly the injury rate in humans is MUCH higher at 47%!

What are the early or subtle signs of an injury?

Any changes in gait, stance or performance could be an indicator of an early or subtle injury. Dogs are stoic and will often carry on with even with an injury present, they will adapt and learn to compensate but often causing further issues.

Gait changes to look out for are discussed in the podcast and some examples of issues identified in dogs before and during CaniCrossing!

What can owners do at home to reduce the risk of injury?

The importance of a warmup and cool down, as well as strength and condition training for these sporting dogs is covered in the podcast. Encouraging a dog to engage the correct muscle groups for the activity with conditioning, not only strengthens the body to help reduce injury but will also help performance.

Sophie Sparrow BSc(Hons), DipAnPhys, RVN
RVN Pet Physio

References

Internet-based survey evaluating the impact of ground substrate on injury and performance in canine agility athletes. Dimenez Isabel A., Canapp Sherman O., Percival Monica L.2022. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2022.1025331/full

Performance Chance Characteristics of Adult one dog CaniCross Runners. Jendro A. 2018. https://commons.nmu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1575&context=theses

The Jena Study (2011) analysed locomotion of 32 different dog breeds and took 4 years to complete. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAvOPCp6Itk

Dogs in Motion Fischer and Lilje (2016)