Playing sports with your dog: how to practice caniwalking?

In canimarche, the dog and its handler are bound by an elastic line.
In canimarche, the dog and its handler are bound by an elastic line. (©FSLC)

It’s much more than just a walk! Canimarche – or canirando when the distance covered is greater than 10 km – involves pulling from the dog which is connected to its master by a harness.

It is therefore a sporty walk: “The dog will not necessarily stop to sniff left or right, the goal of the game is to walk at a steady pace”, indicates Christine Paulin, president of the commission. Canimarche at the Canine Sports and Leisure Federation (FSLC).

What are its benefits ?

Certainly, caniwalking allows you to keep in shape while taking your dog out. If you practice in a club, it is also a good way to socialize. “Dogs need to meet other congeners, they are always happy to meet again. When we show them the equipment, they are all excited because they know they are going to have a great time. »

Practicing a sport with your four-legged friend also allows you to forge a very strong bond with him. A real moment of complicity where “the pair is united in effort. It is always a pleasure to go on an adventure with your dog, through the countryside and the forest paths. »

Is canimarche accessible to all dogs?

Unlike canicross, which requires running, caniwalking does not require intense effort. It is therefore intended for all dogs at least 15 months old because the latter must have finished growing, especially if they are asked to tow.

Also, walking will suit some dogs better. This is the case of boxers or bulldogs, who often have respiratory or heart problems: they are therefore not suitable for running but are very good walkers.

As for small dogs, they can participate in this activity but will not necessarily tow. Clubs are used to adapt to the needs of the dog and the master “We always take everyone’s limits into account,” reassures Christine Paulin. “In my team, there is a dwarf spitz who does his five kilometers without any problem. And we even have a chihuahua! »

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It is possible to practice caniwalking at any age. It all depends on the physique and health of the dog, and of course on his desire. People come for the pleasure of their animal, not for the performance.

Christine PaulinPresident of the Canimarche commission at the FSLC

Which equipment to choose?

Traction harness for the dog, harness for the handler and an elastic line that connects the two, this is the equipment of caniwalkers.

The harness should adapt to the physiognomy of the dog and leave her shoulders free. Also choose “a line that is not too long – about 1.50 m – otherwise it can quickly end up in your feet if the dog does not pull”.

As for protective shoes, “why not if you’re walking in the snow but otherwise, it’s not essential; dogs that are accustomed to walking have a natural strengthening of their pads.” Watch out for chestnut bugs though. It all depends on the sensitivity of the dogs but, in addition to the booties, there are liquid solutions that harden the pads.

And during the walks, don’t forget to bring water or provide water points on the course. There are even energy bars for dogs.

What to do in case of heat stroke?

Heat is the main concern for caniwalkers. “Dogs heat up quickly so you really have to be vigilant and avoid going out when it’s over 25°”.

To refresh your animal, “you can make it drink, but a dog essentially cools itself by his pads and the inside of the thighs, where the skin is thinnest. It is therefore necessary to wet it, with a damp towel, for example, at the level of the belly and the legs so that it can regulate its temperature. »

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