Canicross kit by colour?

Here at K9 Trail Time we stock such a wide variety of canicross equipment now, that there is often a choice of colour in the harness you can choose for your dog and sometimes even in the type of belt for yourself. Whilst choice is a great thing, sometimes having such a wide range can make choosing the right equipment more difficult.

Some harnesses come in a wide variety of colours

For example the Zero DC harnesses come in 132 different size and colour combinations as standard and you can custom order any combination of colours and sizes at an additional cost. This is great if one of the Zero DC harnesses is the best fit, shape and style for your dog, however that might not be the case. We’ve found that many dogs suit a different style of harness based on their individual body shape, style of running and what combination of activities the harness will be used for.

The Dragrattan harnesses only come in one colour of webbing which is red with a silver / grey or yellow stripe through it and though this doesn’t appeal to everyone, we have found these harnesses to be outstanding on some dogs, allowing them freedom of movement, good padding through the chest and a great fit on the neck.

The Dragrattan X-Back comes in one colour webbing only but it is fantastic harness on some working dogs – Photo courtesy of Hound and About Photography

Another harness which only comes in black and the colour of the top strap indicates sizing only, is the Non-stop Freemotion. The Freemotion is undoubtedly one of the best dog sports harnesses you can buy, but people seem to be put off sometimes by the fact it is black and apparently this is ‘boring’. Now we can understand why people would want to choose bright colours and have ‘team’ colours for clubs and individuals, however when it comes to choosing the correct harness for your dog, you have to be guided by what works best for your dog.

Similar colour choice is available for belts, as some of the waistbelts for people have coloured patches on them but others are just in plain black. The belts which come in different colours might not be the ones which suits your body shape and requirements best, you ideally need to try each one on to see how it works and where the pull comes from to make a judgement on if it will be the most comfortable for you.

The belts which come in a range of colours are great belts but might not be the ones for you…

We have found that by talking to people about what their requirements are and finding out what is most important to them, we can help them decide for themselves which belt will be the best option and therefore save a lot of wasted time and money trying out many options before finding the right one.

The purpose of this blog is not to put anyone off buying any of the colourful harnesses or belts but just to encourage you to look beyond the colours when making your choices. We personally love to colour co-ordinate and ideally we like everything in red and black (with a hint of white!). However we also recognise that the best fit for dogs and people might be the plain old ‘boring’ black option or the out of colour scheme webbing and what’s important to us is that you get the best and most comfortable kit for you and your dog.

We like to try and colour co-ordinate (or not as the case may be!) – Photo courtesy of Horses for Courses Photography

If you need any help choosing your equipment, we’ve used everything in the range we stock extensively and so can advise you exactly how it works and should fit, so we can give you our honest opinion based on experience. Feel free to e-mail: info@k9trailtime.com for your free consultation with regards to any of the dog sports equipment we stock.

 

Bikejor for beginners – A reading list

The coming of the new year has seen many more people looking to take up the sports of running and biking and more importantly for us here at K9 Trail Time, people wanting to run and bike with their dog. Last year I wrote a blog containing the main blogs I have written to help you get started in canicross, so I thought it was about time I did the same for bikejoring.

Bikejoring is rapidly gaining popularity in the UK - Photo courtesy of Mel Parry

Bikejoring is rapidly gaining popularity in the UK – Photo courtesy of Mel Parry

I wrote a bit about getting started in bikejor here:
Getting along to an event is a great way to learn about the equipment and training - Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

Getting started with the help of friends is a great idea – Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

The next two links are an introduction to the equipment and how to train
getting-it-wrong-on-the-bike

Training is important to avoid accident! Photo courtesy of Horses for Courses Photography

The following blog focuses on which bikejor attachment might be the one for you
Rower-land Bike Attachment

Getting the right equipment is important

The below blog contains a few tips for those beginning with their dog in bikejor
With the proper equipment and training you can enter bikejor races all over the country - Photo courtesy of Chillpics

With the proper equipment and training you can enter bikejor races all over the country – Photo courtesy of Chillpics

And lastly if you want to bikejor race with your dog, the racing blog I wrote might be of interest.
We have now competed in two European Championships in both Canicross and Bikejor

We have written about how to get started racing

There is some duplication in these blogs but they give you the very basics you need to know about equipment and training and briefly explain the sport of bikejoring for the beginner. If you have any specific queries then please do contact me emilyt@k9trailtime.com and I’d be happy to help you get started with your dog in one of the sports we love.

K9 Trail Time – Top Selling Harnesses

The dog harnesses we sell at K9 Trail Time have been personally tested and chosen for stock based on their durability, design and quality, we have selected them from the best dog sport brands available. Our suppliers all compete in the sports themselves which shows in the harnesses they produce for sale.

Choosing the best selling harnesses of the year was a much more difficult task than the lines and belts because every dog is individual and the reason we stock so many different types of harness is to cater for this uniqueness. As a result we sell such a wide range that picking 3 was impossible, so we’ve gone for the top 5 in this category.

1 – Non-stop Freemotion – this harness is excellent for strong pulling dogs and has been designed to keep the dogs’ spine free to flex, plus the adjustable length straps and side straps mean it fits a wide range of breeds of dog and so suits a greater number of dogs.

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/non-stop-freemotion-harness.html

The spine of the dog is left free by the top straps and the harness can 'breathe' with the dog

The spine of the dog is left free by the top straps and the harness can ‘breathe’ with the dog

2 – Howling Dog Alaska Second / Tough Skin Harness – this harness is perfect for dogs new into the sport because it is soft and forgiving on the neck and can encourage a dog to pull into it. It is also very suitable for established pulling dogs too and has a low price point for a harness which is unique in design.

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/h-d-second-skin-harness.html

My Sprollie Donnie modelling the Second Skin harness, he has been my chief tester because he is such a strong puller!

My Sprollie Donnie modelling the Second Skin harness, he has been my chief tester because he is such a strong puller!

3 – Dragrattan Multi-Sport Harness – the newest design of harness we stock, the Multi Sport by Dragrattan, is great for every sport from Canicross to Dog Sledding and because the main part of the harness finishes half way down the dog, it fits a huge range of dogs. It also doesn’t slip with a dog who pulls sideways, so has been very popular with dogs who drop back sometimes when running.

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/dragrattan-multi-sport-harness.html

The Dragrattan Multi-Sport is proving to be a very popular choice of harness for dog sports this year - Photo courtesy of Hound and About Photography

The Dragrattan Multi-Sport is proving to be a very popular choice of harness for dog sports this year – Photo courtesy of Hound and About Photography

4 – Zero DC Short Harness – this is one of the original harnesses we have sold since day one and it’s design hasn’t changed, other than an expansion in colours and sizes available. The Zero DC Short is great for all sports and even dog walking, with many dog owners choosing this as just a comfortable and tough dog harness for every day use.

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/euro-short-zero-dc-sports-harness.html

The neck must allow your dog full range of movement through the shoulders

The Zero DC Short Harness has been popular for all the years we’ve been open

5 – Neewa Running Harness – another great value short harness which has provided a great option for some of the most difficult to fit dogs this year because of it’s adjustable neck. No other harness we sell has the ability to change to the neck size and so it is suitable for a walking harness for growing puppies and also as a canicross harness for dogs who still have some ‘bulking’ out to do.

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/canicross/canicross-harnesses/neewa-running-harness.html

The neck on the Neewa Running Harness is unusually high but this doesn't cause any issues

The neck on the Neewa Running Harness is unusually high but this doesn’t cause any issues

Of course because we stock around 30 different styles of harness there are some notable omissions in this list, the Zero DC Long Harness which is another great one for strong pullers, leaving the dogs’ back free to arch. The Non-stop Half Harness which is the short harness provided by Non-stop and is only second to the Zero DC Short because it only comes in black! The Dragrattan X-Back Harness is a traditional design which is one of my personal favourites but is often over-looked for the more ‘current’ harness designs and the Neewa Adjustable Racing Harness is another highly adjustable long harness with a very attractive price tag.

As you can see it has been extremely hard for us to list even the top 5 best selling harnesses and because this is our passion we don’t stock anything we don’t recommend. When you buy a harness from K9 Trail Time, you can be assured you’re buying something fit for purpose which has been trialled for quality long before it ever reaches our website.

Harnesses come in so many shapes and styles now, it's worth getting help to choose the right one for your dog

Harnesses come in so many shapes and styles now, it’s worth getting help to choose the right one for your dog

If you have any questions with regard to harnesses then please do get in touch with us info@k9trailtime.com

We look forward to seeing you and your active dogs out and about in 2017!

 

 

 

K9 Trail Time – Top Selling Bungee Lines

In 2016 we saw so many new people taking up the dog sports that we are confident when we say they are a lot more happy, active dogs out there! To help people who come to us for advice we always make recommendations based on their own personal circumstances and we like to provide a choice of dog harness, human waist belt and line if we can.

After another great year and just about to go into our 6th year of trading, we thought we would write a few short blogs on our best-sellers for you, to help you decide if they might also be suitable for you. We’re starting with lines as your bungee line is a vital piece of equipment, often over-looked when it comes to choosing kit but it’s important to get a good quality one for the safety of you and your dog.

So our top 3 selling brands of bungee line are:

1 – Arctic Wolf (3 different lengths and both one or two dog, canicross & bikejor)

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/arctic-wolf-line.html

The Arctic Wolf line comes in 3 different lengths in single and now 2 different lengths in a double version

The Arctic Wolf line comes in 3 different lengths in single and now 2 different lengths in a double version

2 – Bono (2 different lengths and both one or two dog, link is for standard one dog, canicross only)

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/bono-standard-canicross-line.html

Bono's Line or the 'Parkrun' Line

Bono’s Line comes in 2 lengths, pictures is the Parkrun length

3 – Non-stop (2 different lengths, canicross & bikejor)

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/non-stop-running-line.html

The newest line from Non-stop is elasticated the entire length in all versions

The newest line from Non-stop is elasticated the entire length in all versions

We hope you have a great year and enjoy many more with your happy, active dogs!

Product Feature – The Dragrattan Multi-Sport Harness

The rising popularity of the Dragrattan Multi-Sport harness, brand new to the market in 2016, has led us to do this short product feature to help you decide if this harness might be suitable for your dog.

The first thing I would say about the Dragrattan Multi-Sport is that it looks complicated, I know a few people I have spoken with about the innovative design, have said it looks difficult to work out how to put on the dog. In reality the harness works in a very simple way and it’s only the detachable belly band which makes it look more complex to fit than it is.

The Dragrattan Multi-Sport looks complicated but is actually really simple in it's design

The Dragrattan Multi-Sport looks complicated but is actually really simple in it’s design

The Multi-Sport has the traditional diamond shaped neck opening and well padded chest strap of all the Dragrattan harnesses and then the design goes minimalist on the back of the dog so you are left with just a simple cord from the end of the side pieces for attaching your bungee line too. It is here the belly band can be found too and this is excellent for dogs who can back out of traditional x-back harnesses.

There are a couple of things we love about this harness and the first is that it leaves the dogs’ back free to arch when running. A few of the other longer style harness we stock also have this as a feature but in addition to this, the harness also stays very straight on the dog at the front when pulled at an angle, meaning the likelihood of any rubbing under armpits for dogs who ‘crab’ to one side is greatly reduced.

Photo courtesy of Sport Pictures Cymru

The Multi-Sport doesn’t tend to twist at the front if your dog is pulling to one side (both dogs in the picture are in them) Photo courtesy of Sport Pictures Cymru

We have been using these harnesses all year and they were our harness of choice for our long distance challenge we completed in May because they are so versatile and your dog can even be let off safely with only the back cord hanging free when the harness is not pulled into.

The only fault I can find with the Dragrattan Multi-Sport is the same as with every standard size harness you can buy, they will not fit or suit every dog and although the design accommodates a much broader range of dog breed and shape than most longer style harnesses, if the body of the harness is too long on the dog, then it will not work comfortably.

In conclusion we think this harness is one of the best you can buy for participating in a number of different dog sports and although looks a little tricky to begin with, once you have mastered where the straps go, your dog will find this a very comfortable harness for all dog sports.

For more information or to buy this harness please follow the link below:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/dragrattan-multi-sport-harness.html

The Dragrattan Multi-Sport is proving to be a very popular choice of harness for dog sports this year - Photo courtesy of Hound and About Photography

The Dragrattan Multi-Sport is proving to be a very popular choice of harness for dog sports this year – Photo courtesy of Hound and About Photography

Why We Love X-Back Harnesses

As the title of this blog suggests, here at K9 Trail Time we love the X-Back style of dog sports harness. Right from day one I have used an X-Back on one or other of my dogs, and of course we have switched around brands and styles of harness over the years, to test out new ones and see what works best, but I keep coming back to the X-Back style.

We have been using X-Backs for a number of years now for all the dog pulling sports - Photo courtesy of Sled Dog Photo

We have been using X-Backs for a number of years now for all the dog pulling sports – Photo courtesy of Sled Dog Photo

What is an X-Back harness? – X-Backs are a particular style of dog sport harness which are thought to have originated in North America well over 100 years ago. The harness itself gets it’s name from the sections of webbing which cross over the back in a ‘x’ shape. The harnesses are designed to reach to the base of the dogs’ tail and have traditionally been used for teams of huskies pulling sleds on snow.

The X-Back harness, is a traditional style harness with webbing crossing over the back

The X-Back harness, is a traditional style harness with webbing crossing over the back

Why would you use an X-Back harness? – I recommend these harnesses for dogs who are confident pullers and who have a fairly ‘steady’ gait when running. By this I mean the dog runs evenly and is consistent when pulling in a harness, this could be either at a ‘trot’ or a faster ‘bounding’ action.

X-Backs are great for strong pullers

X-Backs are great for strong pullers

Why would you not use an X-Back harness? – If your dog doesn’t pull out front or tends to ‘zig zag’ when running, then I would say this probably isn’t the harness for your dog. Sometimes if your dog arches its back a lot too, then it might be that a harness with no straps crossing over the back might work better. It has also been noted that if the angle of your line comes too steeply from the point of attachment at the back of the harness, then the X-Back cannot work as it was designed to and this is why the X-Backs are not made for much smaller dogs.

Make sure your harness is not being pulled up by too steep a line angle

Make sure your harness is not being pulled up by too steep a line angle

Why we love X-Backs – The X-Back harness has been around for so long and has worked so well that it has become the iconic symbol of sled dog sports (canicross, bikejor and dog scootering have all developed from sledding). It’s simple design means it is lightweight, has no points of weakness (buckles or clips), isn’t complicated to put on and is generally one of the hardest wearing harnesses you can buy.

We love X-Backs (even if Donnie's face doesn't say so in this picture!)

We love X-Backs (even if Donnie’s face doesn’t say so in this picture!)

A few of the X-Backs we stock:

The Dragrattan X-Back:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/canicross/canicross-harnesses/dragrattan-x-back-harness.html

The Dragrattan Collared X-back (for dogs with a more narrow neck and shoulders):

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/canicross/canicross-harnesses/dragrattan-collared-neck-x-back-harness.html

The Non-stop Nansen Nome:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/canicross/canicross-harnesses/non-stop-nansen-nome-harness.html

If you need any help with sizing or fitting an X-back harness do drop an e-mail to info@k9trailtime.com and we’ll be happy to help.

Happy Trails!

 

Bikejor: A Brief Introduction

What is ‘Bikejor’?

Bikejor is the sport of cross country biking with your dog attached to your bike, it can be much faster and more exhilarating than canicross and is particularly suitable for dogs who really embrace running.

What do I need to start bikejoring?

Aside from the obvious (a mountain bike, safety equipment such as hat, glasses and gloves), you will need a comfortable fitting harness for your dog, an attachment for your bike and a long bungee lead to connect you both.

Bikejor is fast and fun for both of you - Photo courtesy of horsesforcourses photography

Bikejor is fast and fun for both of you – Photo courtesy of horsesforcourses photography

Dog Harness

The dog harness will take the pressure of pulling away from your dogs throat, which is essential if your dog is going to be pulling in front of your bike. More information on how to choose a suitable harness for your dog can be found here:

http://www.k9trailtime.com/information/harness-consultation-questions

Bike Attachment

The attachment for the bike helps to prevent the line from dropping into the front wheel if your dog slows down or stops suddenly. It is not a fail-safe but will dramatically reduce the amount of tangles you have. More information on how to choose a bikejor attachment can be found here:

https://k9trailtime.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/bikejor-attachments-which-one-for-you/

Bungee Line

The bungee lead is the shock absorbing element of your equipment and protects both you and your dog from the force of your dog pulling suddenly. When bikejoring, the line length needs to be longer than with canicross to help ensure your dog has enough space and is running clear of the front wheel.

A brief note on bikes

You can start bikejoring with any bike but one which is substantial enough for cross country riding is best. A basic ‘hardtail’ mountain bike is a great starting point. Brakes need to be good and many bikejorers prefer disc brakes as for safety reasons you will need to rely on them!

With the proper equipment and training you can enter bikejor races all over the country - Photo courtesy of Chillpics

With the proper equipment and training you can enter bikejor races all over the country – Photo courtesy of Chillpics

How do I start training for bikejor?

The best way to start your training is by training voice commands on walks, decide early on what your left and right commands will be and try to get a good ‘slow down’ command from the outset.You can use your line or lead to guide your dog in the direction you want them to go and also physically slow them down when you use your ‘steady’ commands.

There are no hard and fast rules about what commands to use and people often use different ones but traditional sled dog commands are based on:

Gee = Right turn

Haw = Left turn

Hike / Mush = Go forward (starts or encourages the dog to move)

On by = To pass another dog or team of dogs

Straight on = To stay straight on the trail if there are many options

Easy = Slow down

Whoa = Stop

Things you can do to encourage your dog to run out front:

Use a higher pitched voice to signal you would like them to up their energy and prepare them for activity. It might sound silly but dogs do respond to pitch changes in voice and if you raise this your dog will learn this means fun!

Go out in a group with more experienced dogs. Dogs learn from each other and will often naturally compete with their peers

Get someone to run or bike in front of you. Again dogs naturally like to chase and by having someone in front of you, they may be more motivated to stay out front. You can even use a favourite toy to encourage your dog to fetch it.

However, try not to rely on this method and always encourage your dog to run independently because it is not always advisable to train your dog to chase! Use the method as a tool and work on building your dogs confidence.

Getting someone to run out in front of you can help teach your dog to pull - Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

Getting someone to run out in front of you can help teach your dog to pull – Photo courtesy of Fay Frost Photography

Our advice at K9 Trail Time is to try and find a group of people who have kit you can borrow. Failing that, have a look at all the options available to you and speak with people who have used the products you are looking to buy.

We try and test all the products on our website http://www.k9trailtime.com so that we can provide you with useful information and comparisons.

You also need to check where you are allowed to train with a bike or scooter locally, as this can be more complex than canicross.

We recommend taking out some kind of sports insurance to cover yourself, when training and racing.

Some Forestry Commission land requires you to have a permit to train and these permits generally require £5 million public liability insurance.

The thing to remember is keep it short (at first), fun and safe, when you get more confidence you can then work on getting faster and even enter some races!

Happy trails! 🙂