Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thoughts on the Canicross Kit

Kona and I have used our new canicross kit everyday since it arrived in the mail. I thought I'd share some thoughts on how it's worked for us.

First, Canadog makes one good product. Kona's harness looks handmade and should last us many, many miles. One of the things I like the best is it gives her full range of motion in her front legs. There have been times with Kona on her no-pull harness where she's taken a tumble because the design of her harness limited the extension of her legs just a little bit. This wouldn't be a problem if Kona was just walking, but Kona isn't too good at just walking. So no more harness-induced tumbles!

On my side, I attach Kona to a waistbelt that's several inches wide and fleece-lined. Now I get to use both hands to run. I can't tell you how much more relaxed I feel now that I can run with a normal stride and don't have pain from Kona-tugs. Because the waistbelt is so wide and Kona's line attaches to a bungee, I hardly feel her pull. (Until a rabbit comes along. Then Kona helps me fun fast).

I'm only running into one potential problem with the waistbelt. Like a lot of women, my waist is smaller than my hips. The belt works it's way to the smallest part of me, which means two things. First, Kona's pull goes to my lower back instead of my upper hips. Right now, my back is bruised from an evil Kayak seat, so I'm hoping when that heals I won't continue to feel that ache in my back. I think this should be fine since my back is pretty reliable (and Kidneys are overrated, right?) and Kona really isn't that big.

The other issue is that the belt shimmies around the couple inches between the top of my hips and the bottom of my ribcage and takes my shirt with it. I'm not too into unplanned belly exposures, so I need to find some long shirts so I don't have to tug my clothes into place.

The line itself is very light. It weighs significantly less that Kona's normal leather leash. The down side is that at only around 8mm thick, if I need to bring Kona close to me, or keep her away from something, I have to be careful not to hurt my hand. It's not easy to grip such a small line.
Kona also gets more room to run. I'm guessing-I'm terrible eyeballing numbers-that Kona ends up about ten feet in front of me. This gives her good exploring room without me running from one side of the trail to the other. The challenge with the extra distance from me is reigning her in when I need to with that narrow line.

The problem with reigning Kona in gives me training motivation. With the Canicross set-up, it's ideal for Kona to be able to respond to me on the trail when distractions show up. Specifically, I need her to come back to me, sit, or move to the side of the trail whenever someone or something comes by. On her short lead, it's easy to simply use the leash to put her where I need her to be.

So far, Kona's done pretty darn well responding to me. I usually have to give her a little tug to break her attention on whatever comes our way before she'll follow the command. She's nowhere near 100%, but I am asking her to do something new. She's great at following commands on the trail when we're doing an "official" mini training session, but responding on the fly seems to be another story. She's had some practice with recalls when I take her on her really long leash, but I'm careful to only call her when I'm pretty sure she'll come. I also try to use her long leash only in areas where it's rare to run into anyone else.

So far, I think we're both happy teammates.


Sara said...

Running with things around your waist can be troublesome. I sometimes feel like my treat bag might pull down my pants (especially if it is REALLy loaded up with treats), and I will have a very embarrassing agility run!

So your arms don't hurt from Kona pulling, but now your back does? No pain, no gain I guess. Ah, what we do for our mutts.

Kathy said...

Excellent review, it will be interesting to see as time goes on if you come up with some fixes for the problems you have encountered ;-) . I am with you though I really do not like how so many harnesses limit a dogs movements, seems like it could end up causing injuries, so glad this one looks marvelous for letting Kona move like she should!

Dawn said...

Sounds fun! For both of you. Glad it's working as well as it is, and hope you can correct the back thing! Kona is having a blast, she's a lucky dog to be able to go out with you on your runs!