Canicross comes to Nova Scotia

Published on January 16, 2017

Sarah Peel leads one of her greyhounds, Onyx, in an exercise.

©Alexander Quon for Metro

HALIFAX, N.S. - It might’ve felt like -20 outside on Saturday but that didn’t stop a group of parka clad pet owners from going for a long distance run – and bringing their dogs with them.

t was all part of clinic introducing dog owners to the sport of canicross, a version of cross country running that includes dogs. Run by Sarah Warford through her company Dogrunnin, the camps are good way to keep her dogs and herself in shape.

Originating from the traditional sport of mushing or dogsledding, canicross was developed as offseason training for the dogs.

“Kennels who raise these dogs realized that if you trained in the offseason, that they were actually faster and stronger in the winter,” said Warford. “From there people realized that they don’t need a team or even a sled. Instead of a sled, the dog is pulling a human.”

While the sport is popular in Europe and common throughout Western Canada, it’s relatively rare to see it in Atlantic Canada. But that hasn’t stopped her from hosting these clinics and a regular class. In the past year her company has given lessons to over 100 people and their furry friends.

Warford says it doesn’t matter the size of your dog either, everything from greyhounds to tiny terriers are able to take part in the sport.

Sarah Peel is a trainer with Dogrunnin, and she led the clinic on Saturday.

“We stick to very consistent commands so it’s accessible to everyone,” Peel said. “ We use terms that reflect what we want the dog to be doing, and we find the dog to be much response in that way.”

Warford says she’s found a good way to exercise with her dog, but it’s not just about her canine companion.

“It’s a lot about learning how to communicate with your dog and then working together,” she said. “You end up building a better relationship with your dog.”

Attendees of Saturday’s clinic run with their dogs. Instead of handheld leashes the pair guide their dogs with leashes from around their waste.

©Alexander Quon/For Metro