Reactive Dogs

What is a reactive dog?  A quick description is here.
We get many people asking if canicross is suitable for a reactive/nervous/fearful dog.  Yes is our reply!  Our group is welcoming and inclusive and its all about the dog.  Many of us have rescues and/or involved in rescue dogs.  We also have dogs that can’t be let off lead so canicross is brilliant for them.  We have a photo album for ‘Wobbly Dogs’ i.e. dogs that need space and/or have special needs so you can check out reactive dogs.
Dogs are almost always onlead during our club runs so to help create a more controlled environment for your dog (please ask for current exceptions).  However, there are a lot of dogs, who are excited and stimulated and raring to go at the start – this can be a high stress environment for dogs.  So here are some suggested guidelines to help your dog not get stressed during our runs:
Your first canicross club run
When you post to say that you’re coming for the first time, please let everybody know, particularly the run organiser, about your dog’s needs.
Put your dog in the ‘Wobbly Dog’ album on our Facebook Group page.
Consider starting with a beginner’s group which are a smaller group than the main runs and run with the beginner’s group until your dog gets used to the environment of canicross.
Stay back from the main group, particularly at the start – over time as you and your dog gets used to canicross and the other dogs hopefully you can get closer.  You can still socialise with us in the cafe or put the dog in the car at the end of the run and chat to us.
Consider starting at the back of the run so nobody overtakes you.
Leave your dog in the car until you actually start running.  Put your dog straight back after the run.
Consider your dog wearing a muzzle – we have a guide here.
Consider using yellow ribbons as in the Dogs Need Space Project.
If your dog is particularly anxious or reactive at the start, consider taking a different route and join up with the main run later.  Speak to the run organisers and they will help you plan a route that suits you and your dog needs.
During runs and races:
Make sure there is plenty of space between you and the runner in front as people and dogs can stop suddenly.
Communicate with your dog and to other runners particularly when overtaking.
When you are being overtaken, slow or even stop and hold onto your dog until they are past you.
When you overtake, slow down/walk and reel in your dog.
We have a lovely write up from Linzi Melville regarding her first race with her reactive dog
Indy here.
If you need to hold on to your dog during runs and races, this could affect what type of harness and line would be suitable.  We’re happy to chat through this with you.
In general:
Any questions ask us.  We have a massive range of dog personalities who come from a variety of backgrounds – from being raised from a pampered puppy or being a rescued stray rebounding from multiple homes.  Also different dogs have different running styles meaning different techniques are needed..
These suggestions may sound over cautious, but if there’s a 1 in 100 chance your dog could decide to lunge and you go to both club runs every week – then statistically that’s one chance a year your dog could react.
We are an informal social meetup group – you don’t have to be part of The Run, to be part of the run! – we are happy to talk through different options to help you experience canicross in an environment that is low stress for your dog and get them gradually used to the environment.
Making Cani-Sports Edinburgh a welcoming and reduced stress environment for reactive dogs
We want this club to be as welcoming and inclusive as possible.  As a club we want to help dogs be the happiest Fido they can be.  Therefore we strive to make sure that our runs are suitable for reactive dogs.   And below is a few things to bear in mind for those of us who are not so familiar with reactive dogs:
Check out which dogs to give space to by looking at the ‘Wobbly Dog’ album on our Facebook Group page.
Please stick to the on-lead rules – they’re there for a reason.
When your dog is off-lead after the run please do not let it approach a dog that you or your dog is not familiar with without asking.
Communicate clearly when you’re overtaking.  If you’re overtaking somebody you know be reactive and your dog doesn’t overtake in a straight line, please reel them in.