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Harness Dog Sports

In Canada, sledding has a long tradition of working sled dogs that were integral parts of community transportation, as well as high level professional mushing.

Today, more and more harness enthusiasts are taking up scooter or kick-sledding, ski or bike-joring and running (canicross or canitrail) on both snow and dry land.

Canicross is the sport of cross country or trail running as part of a human/canine team.

Canitrail is the sport of trail running as part of a human/canine team and typically takes place on more technical trails than canicross.

Bikejoring is the sport of dog-powered mountain biking (it can be a 1 or 2 dog sport). 

Scooter is 1 or 2-dog dryland harness dog sport that involves using a scooter specifically designed for dogs to pull and requires the human athlete to kick and steer. 

Skijoring is the dog-powered sport of cross country skate skiing. It is a complex sport working with 1 or 2 dogs that requires mastery over both basic harness dog sport skills and skate ski techniques.

Kicksledding is a 1 or 2 dog-powered sport that requires the human athlete to kick while the dogs pull.

The 2015 Dryland World Cup held in Bristol, Quebec featured hundreds of racers and dogs from all over the globe, with races run on a sandy trail that wound through a beautiful pine forest. Racers and their dogs competed in several events: scooter, canicross, bikejoring and 4, 6, and 8 dog rigs and this short video of the event provides a great overview and live shots of the options within the sportFor a more detailed overview of each event - check out the Maritime Harness Dog Sport Association's main page.  The 2020 Dryland Competition was also scheduled to occur in Quebec but has been rescheduled to late 2021.  The sport is overseen by the rules of the International Federation of Sledding Sports.

Though some dogs make better running companions than others, the breed or size of dog doesn’t matter. Most breeds can keep up with or surpass the speed of a human. Any breed could technically participate but the dog must be physically able to run (i.e. healthy with a strong open airway, a requirement that tends to rule out most brachycephalic dogs like bulldogs) and pull at least enough to keep pressure on the line.

To successfully participate in sled and canicross, your dog needs good basic manners and everyday skills and to be comfortable on a leash. Your dog must also be comfortable walking or running past strangers and needs to learn  movement cues such as to “speed up” or “slow down.” A CAPDT member-trainer who can support you while you train your dog can be extremely helpful!

In Canada, the sport is organized by the CAHDS - Canadian Association of Harness Dog Sports and its regional partners, following these rules (and accompanying anti-doping requirements).