Your Dog Pulls? Great!

I’ll admit it, one of my dogs is a terrible puller, especially when we run.  On walks I’m willing to train and work with him, but running is my ‘me time’.  I simply don’t want to sacrifice any of that precious time on heel work, so usually I run with Beo on a Gentle Leader.  Last night, however, I had a brilliant idea.

I stumbled across the pull harness I had bought when I thought I could teach Tamlin to pull a sled (that’s another story!).  I put it on Beo, hooked a bungee leash to the belt of my hands-free leash, and voila: I had a canicross set up!  Canicross is a dog sport gaining popularity in the US.  Already popular in Europe, it is a combination of skijoring and running or walking.  It’s very simple: a dog in harness pulls you while you run or walk.  It’s a great outlet for dogs who pull and a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your pup.

If you want to try letting your dog pull you on a run or a walk, I highly recommend a waist leash and a harness specially for pulling.  I got mine here .  Pulling harnesses won’t ride up and choke your dog the way another harness might if the dog is pulling for a long time.  They also distribute the weight more evenly across your dog’s chest and back, which can prevent joint problems.   Whatever waist leash you use (and there are several brands) place the belt of the leash around your hips, not mid back, to keep your dog from pulling you over or hurting your back.  If you have back problems look for hip belts, Nooksack Racing Supply has several affordable options for belts and bungee lines.  Bungee lines help absorb shock so stopping and starting doesn’t cause back problems for you or your dog.

I also recommend using a “whoa” cue for stopping, or running downhill.  I will say “woah” when I start to slow down for a stop, then ask my dogs to sit and stay.  Eventually they realize that “woah” always happens before we stop and they slow down when they hear the cue, anticipating the stop.  Once that happens I can use it to slow them down on a hill.

Last night’s run was a breeze; the hills don’t seem so steep when you have a dog pulling you up them!  I noticed something different with Beo as well.  Usually on a run or a walk he’s sniffing, zig-zagging, trying to chase squirrels, just very highly distracted.   On this run he went in a straight line and barely glanced at squirrels, cats, dogs, etc.  He just wanted to run and pull and run and pull.  He finally had a job, and I had an enjoyable run and a tired dog.

I’m excited to continue running this way with Beo, and I bet he is too.

2 responses to this post.

  1. We love this!! Bizz is a puller AND a sprinter – so she’s encouraged me to get in better shape this way ;0)


  2. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing this Alison!


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