Participation in canicrossning competitions

What happens in canicross races? How long are the trips? What do I and my dog ​​need to know how to do? Are we in the way of others?

Such questions often run through the heads of dog racing enthusiasts who have not yet ventured into competitions. After reading this page, I hope you know a little better what to expect. If you are very unsure of your skills, go to the following competitions or events as a spectator. You will notice that the atmosphere at the sled dog sports competitions is relaxed and even beginners can take part. Especially the starts of several dog classes are interesting to watch for those who are not used to it, because the dogs are usually very eager to get to the competition route. Or you just bravely go running!

Starting a luge sports career is the easiest for most people with a canicross , so we will focus on dealing here especially with participating in a canicross competition. Of course, most things also apply to other categories. If you are not yet familiar with canicrossning, or canicross, read more about canicrossning from our species introduction page .

canicrossning is dog-dog cooperation at its best!


  • For example, you can find information about upcoming canicrossning competitions here: Luge sports competitions and events . In the competition announcements, the class abbreviations for canicrossning series are DCM / DCW (canicross men/women). In Finland, so-called thaw country sledding competitions are organized in spring and autumn, and winter competitions, of course, depending on the snow situation. Summers are the vacation and basic fitness season for sledding athletes, as the hot weather is not suitable for sledding sports. In competitions under the Finnish Harness Sports Association, the International Harness Sports Federation is used IFSS competition rules . National rules supplement the IFSS rules in national team sport competitions and SM competitions.

  • Find out how long the trip is. In official canicrossning classes, the distance is usually about 5 km, and in hobby dog ​​running classes, the distance is mostly 2-3.5 kilometers. The top canicrossners run at an average pace of 18–20 km/h, but even in official competitions, everyone can progress at their own suitable pace. So you really don't have to be in top shape to participate and you don't have to match anyone else's running pace, but do take into account your dog's pulling experience and fitness. Choose the distance and pace that are right for you. If you've only trained for one-kilometer runs before, it's unfair to your dog to start a "cold" 5-kilometer race. This is especially emphasized in faster sledding sports, which require the dog to have good speed endurance, but it also applies equally to canicrossning.

  • Ambitious competitors train so that the dog moves forward in the pulling harness, always with the pulling cloth taut. If you don't aim for the top yourself, you can participate in canicrossning competitions, even if your dog doesn't actually pull. According to the rules, it is enough for the dog to voluntarily move ahead of the person.

  • Overtaking and also being overtaken should be practiced in advance. It is the responsibility of the person coming from behind to announce their intention to overtake. The person being overtaken must give space to the overtaker by moving to the other side of the track (and if necessary, slow down and bring your own dog closer so that the overtaking situation goes quickly).

  • The routes of canicrossning competitions are dirt roads or softer chew tracks. Asphalt is not allowed and it is not recommended as a training running surface either.

  • The competition route is marked with e.g. flag lines or signs.

  • Check well in advance that your equipment is intact and complies with the rules. You can find more detailed information about the necessary equipment, for example, on Traildog's website: canicross .

  • Check that your dog's vaccinations are up to date, that it is healthy and that its age complies with the competition rules: dogs participating in sledding competitions must be at least 18 months old.

  • NOTE: A dog with aggressive tendencies has absolutely no place in sledding competitions, as tight overtaking situations will inevitably occur. By bringing a dog that reacts with its teeth to competitions, you can at worst ruin another dog's entire hobby and competition career.

  • Competition license: In unofficial, low-threshold competitions, a license is not required. In official competitions under the Federation of Finnish Harness Athletes, the competitor must have a paid competition license, amateur license or competition-specific insurance fee. You can read more about licenses in VUL from the pages .


Packing list for canicrossning competitions

  • sled dog harness
  • Drive belt
  • Canicross belt
  • Cross-country running sneakers with grippy soles for runners, as well as warm clothing in addition to sportswear
  • Vaccination certificate
  • Water for both the dog and the runner
  • Own water cup (shared water cups always increase the risk of spreading diseases)
  • A reward for the dog at the finish line
  • A jacket for the dog to keep the muscles warm before and after the performance, if the weather is cool/windy
  • A happy and open mind: competitions are a good way to learn more from other enthusiasts and the most important thing is that you get to surpass yourself together with your dog!

Before the competition performance

  • Eating and drinking: Before sports performance, the dog should not eat for several hours, because food in the stomach increases the risk of gastric torsion. It would be good for the dog to drink water well both the night before and about 1.5-3 hours before the performance. Water can be flavored with e.g. a small amount of meat or dogs energy drink powder , so that the dog likes to drink.

  • Arrive at the race venue on time. At the registration point, you will receive a race number and your departure time.

  • Before the competition, there is a mandatory competitor meeting for everyone, where the organizer goes through important issues related to the competition and announces, for example, possible last-minute route changes.

  • It is often possible to go around the competition route, e.g. on foot, after the competitor meeting. It is a convenient way to warm up the muscles of both the dog and the runner. Circuit rotation is not always possible due to scheduling or other reasons. In any case, warm up the muscles by raising the heart rate and exercise/stretch the dog as well.

  • Give your dog the opportunity to relieve himself right before the start.

Competition performance

  • In Finnish team sport competitions, the so-called the chase start, i.e. the teams are sent to the route one by one at certain intervals. The starting interval between competitors is usually 30 seconds or 1 minute. I also saw this in canicrossning classes. The starting order can be drawn or arranged based on previous race results so that the fastest start first.

  • The competitor may have an assistant with him at the starting line, who can, for example, hold the dog.
  • On the competition route, the aim is to make overtaking as smooth as possible. The person coming from behind must announce with an audible voice their intention to overtake, and the person being overtaken must give space to the overtaker by moving to the other side of the track. If necessary/if possible, the person being overtaken must slow down/stop/bring his dog closer to him. You may not interfere with overtaking in the finish area either, but there is no longer any need to slow down.

  • Even during the excitement of the competition, remember that you and your dog are a team: by praising and encouraging your dog, you will also gain more strength yourself - both mentally and physically!

  • Do not stop immediately after crossing the finish line, but move further to the side so that there is a safe, empty space for everyone to arrive at the finish line. At the finish line, there may be non-competitors cheering to the end and receiving and rewarding the dog, as long as they also give way to the competitors.

After the competition performance

  • Thank your dog, return your Competition number and offer your dog a small amount to drink.
  • Don't stop at what you are doing, so that lactic acids don't accumulate in the muscles: take a short walk so that the muscles can gradually recover from the strain. If necessary, also remember to bring extra clothes for both yourself and the dog.
  • After sporting performance, the dog should be well calmed down before eating. Many offer, for example, a very small dose 30-60 minutes after competition performance and a larger dose a couple of hours later. It is good to offer plenty of liquid with the food.
  • Remember both your and your dog's body care at the end of the competition day: massage and light stretching promote recovery.
  • If/when you are happy with your joint performance, you can turn your gaze to the future and think about how you will prepare for the next challenge. And also attract friends to train and compete!

So see you at the games! Follow the Tail!