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Park Runs and Canicross!

Most of you will have heard of Park Run, and if you haven't give it a google. They are lovely little events held all over the UK in different areas and the best part is, they are dog friendly.

So why should you go to a Park Run? Well, I am not saying you should, but equally I am not saying you shouldn't either. If you wanted to try something different, and are many a bit nervous about entering anything competitive as I am then Park Run offers a good alternative. The routes are easy to follow, relatively short and most of the people who attend these are really lovely.

So what do you need to take into consideration before loading up your dog and canicross gear?

-Firstly terrain, this in my humble opinion is the most overlooked aspect of canicross. I see people out all the time running their dog over compact surfaces, tarmac, roads etc and to be honest it makes me cringe. Whilst a small jog over these surfaces shouldn't do any harm, take into consideration that impact of pulling in a harness will at the very least cause a lot of wear on your canines pads. It leads me to question if the pads are getting worn and damaged, what is the impact on the joints going to be? So try and take a look at the route for your PR before you go out, make sure that it is suitable for your dog and you to run on and that you are putting your dogs health first and foremost.

-Distractions, ask yourself, how is your dog going to cope with the large numbers of people, noises and other distractions? You might need to work on building your dog up to this number of people before you take part. Also PR's are going to be much calmer atmosphere than a canicross event!

Also can your dog pass people calmly whilst ignoring them, or in reverse, can your dog be passed by others calmly whilst ignoring them and not turning into a race?

CC is a growing sport/hobby, it is a small world and trust me those in the loop hear everything, if your dog is snapping and snarling at others when they pass it isn't good for the rest of us! It also means your dog could be over its threshold and is actually finding the whole thing quite stressful. Equally if your dog is bouncing up and down at people with excitement then that isn't good either. Please always consider yourself as an ambassador to the canicross world and act accordingly, this way it paves the way to future generations of canicrossers being able to part in events.

-Comments! Are you really a canicrosser if you haven't heard the following or variations of: 'Thats cheating', 'are you actually doing any of the work', or 'how fast are you actually'. This is one of those things, you are best to smile, wave and just focus on yourself. You do have to develop a bit of thick skin with these kinds of comments. For those who haven't had a go a canicrossing, yes you do get a bit of help with hills. But actually running without a dog is far easier, there is a lot training, work and skill required to run with a dog. A good canicrosser and their dog will make it look easy because they have practiced and practiced and worked really hard at it.

Over all I do recommend taking part in a Park Run if you get a chance as it is something different to experience. But I would also recommend thinking over how your dog will feel about it all and if they are ready to partake in the event too. If not, go back to your basics, work on passing nicely and calmly, starting off with focus and finishing with focus.

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