Friday, March 13, 2015

Newbie’s Perspective: Canicross, the Ruffwear Omnijore Hip Belt, and Introducing Savannah

Last month, Backcountry K-9 sent us Ruffwear’s Omnijoring Hip Belt to review.  The parks and trails around here are different from what we were accustomed to in Portsmouth, NH – a lot more leashed, multi-use trails.  Ty craves off leash time and outlets for her high prey drive so we looked into sports like barn hunts and agility but class availability and scheduling were a challenge.  Enter the thought of canicross….

Our first trial was just me and Ty on the snowmobile trail behind the house.  It didn’t take long before I realized there’s a bit more of a learning curve than I expected.  After years of working with her to walk with a loose leash, I was asking her to pull me.  I picked the word “pull” as the command and she picked it up pretty quickly.  We came to the agreement that she likes to have the lead stretched just enough to engage the bungee.  Ty’s a jogger by nature but in the stalking/hunting sense.  Teaching her to focus down the path and not abruptly planting her face in the ground or veering to where the deer prints cross the trail will be of great benefit!  It’s also very cool to continue working on some directional commands we have been informally working on for awhile.  To tie this back into the belt trial, it provides excellent cushioning, should you have a dog who pulls with more gusto.  The toughest part of canicross is getting in that groove. First time (second, third) that everything falls into place – elation!

It was a little tricky being our own photographer.  
I mostly just want to share Tango's awesome expressions!

The belt is comfortable and, just like a backpack, needs adjusting and readjusting for it to settle to my form.  The first few runs, I left the leg straps at home, thinking they would be overkill for our mini-jogs.  My suggestion: wear them; they help the belt stay low on your waist.  It is fantastic to have the pockets since the belt covers the coat’s pockets and they’re a little more convenient anyhow.  I wasn’t sure about the tow line attachment’s strength but I was overthinking it; it works great and is a great safety feature. 

My overall message is this is a great piece of gear to have.  It feels awesome to be jogging in unison with the dog(s) and it makes me want to try out the other joring sports (when I come across the funds for the remaining gear!).  It’s versatile, very comfortable, and I admit to wearing it even on more mellow outings because of the ease of walking the dogs and handy pockets.  I think the ability to canicross on local wooded trails is going to go a long way in helping Ty maintain her sanity - getting heavy exercise while feeling a little more independent than another leash choice - and keeping her safely and legally attached to me. 

As usual, most of the photos I took were of Ty's backside but I especially like this one :)

Not that I haven’t talked enough already, but I just can’t wait til the next blog to introduce our newest foster dog, Savannah!!  I have a funny feeling she is going to make a great canicross and hiking companion.  She is a love bug and a half, wiggles for attention, and has a great energy.  I want to talk on and on about how awesome we already decided she is but I think photos might be more fun until next time J

Thanks for the reads everyone, have a GREAT weekend!


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  2. Nice review! If you practice the basic joring commands (i.e. hike, on-by, gee, haw...) while you run, it will definitely help when (not if) you start skijoring...we use the commands year-round while hiking, snowshoeing, etc, and the dogs will learn the commands through this extra practice. And...very cute foster pup !