Canicross Harness

Another important part of the canicross gear, is the dog harness.

Why a harness? Because a collar is not suitable for joring sport because in joring sports the dogs has to pull and with a collar your dog would not be able to breath properly the collar would put pressure on the trachea, the thyroid gland, nerves, muscles and also the neck. To perform well, your dog will need a good padded harness. Just like for us we don’t run with dress shoes or high heel shoes.

There are different harnesses on the market, some are made so the dog don’t pull other are made for search and rescue dog(tracking), there is also flyball harness, rappelling harness, carting harness, harnesses for visually impaired dog, harness for the handicapped dog (helping to transport a dog from point A to point B), harness for the service dogs and there is also the safety harness for the car, harness for dogs in wheelchair, weight pulling harness.

The harness we are looking for is a harness that will be padded, the attachment will be situated on the middle part of the back or close the base of the tail. The proper harness will not chafe the dog under the arm pit, the dog should be able to run straight. If the dog has a tendency to do some crabbing, the harness is maybe faulty, another type of harness should be chosen. 

Also really important, the harness should fit properly on the dog. Very often I see dog that don’t have the proper size, they are often too large. Deep chested dog breed should also be fitted with the proper harness, the breast plate should stay in place, centered, the breast plate should be wider. If not properly fitted you will be able to notice that the breast plate strap will have a tendency to be on the left or the right side of the chest instead of being centered.

Often I see people using the wrong harness for the sport that they are doing, by doing so, you could get your dog injured. Often, I see people using harness that have a horizontal strap that goes across the chest(under the neck), there is a handle on the top of those harnesses, made to hold the dog at a starting line, this type of harness is not made for joring sport, this type of harness is more appropriate for flyball sport, search and rescue or also dock jumping. 

Canicross harness style available on the market: the most popular, cross-back (x-back), the wheel dog harness(pulling low stuff like kicksled), the H-back (or long distance) and the pulling harness.

The cross-back is use for canicross, bike-joring, scooter-joring, cross-country skating, mountain board joring, skijoring, trekking and kicksledding. 

The half back harness are use for canicross, bikejoring, dog scootering, cross-country skating, mountain board joring, skijoring, trekking and also walking. 

The wheel dog harness whould be use for kicksleeding(the dog right in front of the sleed)   because this harness would not put pressure on the dog’s hind. When people use any other type of harness and the dog is running sideway (called crabbing) this may be one of the reason why the dog walk or run this way.

The H back harness is not that popular in joring sport.

Which harness would be perfect for a dog that pull hard? 

All those harnesses should be padded for the comfort of the dog. Just imagine having to carry a heavy backpack that has no padding at the shoulder straps, it would hurt after a while.

A harness is compose of webbing(straps), this webbing is made of nylon or polypropylene. Most companies use polypropylene.

There will also be the padding which is made of one of those: polar fleece, fluffy polar fleece, webbing padding, neoprene or also  closed-cell foam/padding.   Polar fleece padding if wet may cause hot spot and in the winter it might freeze and hurt the dog by the constant rubbing. Fluffy fleece will wear really fast compare to other padding. The padding might be  covered with a material called ripstop fabric. Ripstop fabric is lightweight, resists tearing and ripping. Some harness have different thickness at some point on the harness for the dog comfort. Are the pads placed at the right places, is there enough of it? 

Some of the harness like the short harness have a plastic buckle. Those buckle should be sturdy. The great part about those harness is that they are adjustable. Those harness are perfect for canicross, bikejoring, scooter-joring, cross-country skating, mountain board joring, ski-joring, trekking. This harness is not suitable for kick-sledding. 

The main body of some harnesses are made of padded material that are also lined with mesh, mesh is breathable and light.

Some company also have little piece of ropes call tug-loop which are colored situated where you will be attaching the snaps, each color means a size, it help when you have a few dogs. Some people attach the snaps on this rope or they choose the metal ring.

Good harness will have reflective strips on them for night time visibility. Some also have reflective thread in the webbing.  There is also one harness on the market that is totally reflective. If you want to be seen this is the right harness.

On some harness you will also find a ring. This ring is to attach the snap or you will have the tug loop attach to it. This ring will be made of steel, nickel-plated or bronze.

The thread use to have the harness sewn together is a really important part also. You would not want you harness fall apart as you are running in the wood and lose you dog. A good quality thread should be use.

You want to buy a harness for your dog. The best would be to go where you could have your dog try the harness and also have your dog walk and run with it. Some dogs don't like the feeling of them at first, bring some treat with you, to cheer him up, so he forget that he has a harness on. Have him run a bit with it.

Important!! For the human and for the dog. The human should be seen by a doctor prior starting an exercise program, ask him if the program will be appropriate for you. Same thing with your dog. You should see the vet about the new exercise program that you will be starting with your dog to know if it will be appropriate.

Christianne Tremblay

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