“Canicrossing with a Reactive Dog: Building Confidence and Overcoming Obstacles”

Canicross with a reactive dog

Canicrossing with a reactive dog

Have you stayed away from running or socialising with your reactive dog.  The public perception of a reactive dog is that it’s out of control and not trained well enough. 

This often isn’t the case and just like people we never really know what has gone in peoples lives to make them react like they do or with dogs.

Sarah and Rosie first came to me over 2 years ago to find out about Canicross and the change in Rosie and her confidence has been amazing.

I asked Sarah to share her and Rosie’s journey with Canicross and how it has helped.

Rosie’s story

Rosie and I first met around 2 and half years ago, I had popped myself forward for the foster dog no one seemed to want, reactive, bite history, no formal socialisation, with people or dogs, how could no one want her?

It was apparent initially that training and structure was needed for Rosie to bloom into the dog she deserved to become, deep down you could see she just wanted to please but her anxiety with people and dogs really held her back.

Canicross taster

After numerous training sessions and tips on coping more with Rosie’s apprehensions we wanted to venture into something that was regular and with people that understood her nuances, luckily, we found this when we came across Louise and Pickle when we booked an introduction into Canicrossing with Paws4Running.

The session quickly showed Rosie to be a natural puller, not difficult for a Sprocker with no lead training!

That first session with Louise gave us both the confidence and bug to continue our Canicross journey.

We were even luckier when we found Louise runs regular social sessions, really handy when you want continuous positive input for your dog around both humans and other dogs.

Canicross Racing

Canicross with a reactive dog

Soon weekly social meets brought about conversations around joining in more competitively, we had learnt the key skills of passing, race starts, hill descents, assents (for me!) and running muzzled (the dog not me) during socials so now was the time to turn these skills into reality and test our newly found focus around new dogs and people.

Taking Rosie out of her comfort zone and the pack she had quickly got used to was a scary thought but we jumped in at the start of the last season with Canicross Midlands at Box End.

Whilst the event is busy it has plenty of space and is extremely well organised, individual start times, with longer gaps for reactive dogs gave use the space and comfort we needed, alongside the support of one of our social fellow Canicrossers.

Rosie was brilliant, she loved the challenge, she coped really well, everyone there understood the needs of reactive dogs and we had a fabulous sunny race day, a perfect introduction to our competition journey.

We even got to take part in a podcast with Louise before and after the race, from then on it was clear we were both hooked.  You can listen to the podcast Sarah & Rosie were in here

Canicross Social Runs

Canicross with a reactive dog

Social runs with Louise and the rest of the team have been invaluable, we have all seen Rosie progress far further than anyone ever expected, she loves running weekly with both the people and the dogs, it is pretty addictive.

Her behaviour has improved outside of Canicross sessions as well, Rosie adapts to people with a growing ease, and dogs are becoming less of an issue. I never expected to get a perfect dog but she’s becoming so close to the dog she needs to be it’s a pleasure and joy to see her progression build week after week.

How Rosie is now!

What can Rosie do now, she passes other dogs and people easily while in Canicross mode, the purpose drives her past effortlessly, she encounters head to head meetings with her regular pack and people with ease, she also recovers much quicker from what she deems a stressful event, this is shown through the way she accepts new members with relative ease, a big ask for a medium sized dog with big socialisation issues.

Off the back of this Rosie has become a pleasure to walk, she used to be terrible, the confidence Canicross has given us both is absolutely priceless, we love the people, we love the challenges of the races and look forward to the start of the next season. 

For anyone thinking about jumping into Canicrossing with a reactive dog I’d certainly recommend giving it a try, hopefully you’ll get the bug we have, help your dog’s confidence grow and get fitter all at the same time, what’s not to love?  One important last point, I’ve noticed it improves the relationship you have with your dog as you work together. We look forward to seeing you at one of the seasonal races soon.

PS the pulling, Rosie has learnt that she leaves this for Canicross sessions, for most of the time now I have a dog that walks more or less to heel.

If you would like to book in a taster session with your dog then please get in contact here