As canicross and bikejor grow in popularity in the UK, many people find themselves being drawn into the sports by the opportunity it gives them to enjoy time with their dog. I have met so many people with completely different backgrounds who come together at the races, united by their love of their dog and the fun that canicross or bikejor provides. A lot of these people would consider themselves ‘amateurs’ because they don’t win every weekend and only really take part in the organised races for the social aspect of them.
But I think that success in these sports, as with other dog sports, relies very heavily on the relationship you have built with your dog. This relationship is important because I am always being asked ‘what is the best harness for canicross?’ or ‘what is the best harness for my dog?’ and the answer to both those questions can be found with you and your dog. I have three dogs, all of different breeds and temperaments, and have found that each suits a different type of running harness. It has taken me a long time to find what I think works best for them and I have tried a number of different styles of harness and running set-ups to find what works best for us. I think you need to study your dog, on and off lead to see how they move with no restriction and then you can understand the impact that putting them in a harness has on this movement.
It is for this reason that I stock such a wide range of harness types, as I feel no-one knows your dog better than you – in short – you are the ‘expert’ of your dog. You will notice if your dog doesn’t seem to be moving as comfortably as normal, as you spend more time than anyone else in the company of your dog and will spot the slight differences in gait that an incorrectly fitting harness or injury may cause. I always encourage people to try out a couple of different harnesses if they can and watch other peoples’ dogs running to see what might suit their own dogs’ running style.
Any person can say ‘well I use this on my dog and it’s the best’ but what they really mean is ‘I use this on my dog and I think it’s the best for my dog’ which may not necessarily be the best for your dog. Even if you are an ‘amateur’ in the sports, be confident in knowing you can see when your dog is comfortable and don’t allow yourself to be talked into a harness for your dog that you’re not sure is the best for your dog, just because someone more experienced has said it is the right one to get. That’s not to say don’t listen to advice and information that’s available on the equipment you can buy – just remember that you know your dog best, you are the ‘expert’ and trust your judgement to choose what will work best for you.