It’s wet, and muddy outside, and despite the winter weather our dogs still require exercise on a regular basis and that’s where Canicross can come in – it is the perfect winter sport and a time-efficient way for you and your dog to exercise together. It’s that time of year again where every time we go out Canicross running or dog walking we return home caked in mud and dirt, and while running through mud and splashing in puddles can be fun at the time, cleaning up afterwards isn’t so much fun.
We’ve been asked a few times about how best to clean Canicross equipment so we created this blog post to help with those questions.
Cleaning Canicross Equipment:
Harnesses & Running Belts
Canicross harnesses are designed to be used in harsh terrains and weather conditions so they are pretty tough and resilient, but it’s still important to clean them regularly, especially during the colder wetter months when they get very muddy. It is also important to clean your harness regularly to prevent bits of dirt or grit from getting stuck to the inside of your dog’s harness which, if not removed, can rub your dog’s skin as they run and become quite uncomfortable for them.
Your dog’s harness and your running belt both come up well if you hand wash them and leave to hang dry, please avoid using harsh detergents – not just to maintain the integrity of the materials but also because they will be in contact with your pet’s skin, so ensure whatever you are using to wash them is pet friendly. It’s also possible to wash your Canicross kit in the washing machine, but this is something that we do rarely as I do not want to cause damage to the equipment. If you are going to use the washing machine then I recommend popping everything in an old pillowcase or in a bag designed for washing pet items, I also chuck a couple of old towels in the drum as well, just to cushion the washing machine a little bit, if you are going to use the washing machine then a quick and cool wash will be sufficient. When it comes to drying the harness and running belt then leave to hang dry, away from direct heat and do NOT tumble dry.
If you look after your kit well then you should be able to get loads of use out of it and it should last for years without the need to replace it.
Cleaning Trail Running Shoes:
Trail shoes are designed to get dirty, they are usually designed to allow water to drain freely out of them whilst you run. If you want to wash your trail shoes then resist the urge to put them in the washing machine, this can be damaging for them and destroy the glue that holds them together. If you decide to wash them then remove the insoles first of all and rinse these under the tap, then loosen the shoelaces on the main part of the shoe and rinse the shoes under the taps, you can also give them a rub with a sponge or cloth to remove any stubborn dirt or mud. Once clean then allow them to dry naturally and away from a direct heat source, scrunching up some newspaper and leaving inside the shoes will also help to absorb water and speed up the drying process. Never tumble dry your trail shoes.
We have recently purchased a MUD MATE to clean our trail shoes after use. Its a nifty little brush that attaches onto a bottle which you fill with water and then use to scrub your shoes/bike. So far we are really impressed with this little gadget, and our dirty shoes have come up really well (even a pair of White trail shoes have come up incredibly well). Our favourite things about the Mud Mate are that its actually quite reasonably priced, it is an effective and convenient way to clean off your shoes or bike after use and it lets you re-purpose used plastic bottles – the bigger the bottle you attach it to the more water you have to clean with, so far we are really happy with our purchase and it will certainly be using it in our classes and taking it along to races with us.
Washing your dog after a muddy Canicross run or walk:
We couldn’t create this blog and not mention the importance of cleaning your dog’s feet, legs and bellies after a Canicross run or dog walk, as these are the areas that will get the dirtiest, this is especially the case for smaller dogs as their bellies are much closest to the ground. This is important, not just to avoid your dog making a mess of your car or house but also to help to remove bacteria or viruses that your dog could pick up from mud or dirty water.
During the winter we always take a towel with us to give our dogs a wipe down after running, then dress them in an absorbent drying coat or fleece jumper, this also stops our dogs getting too cold and helps to keep our van and house clean. Happy Paws Dog Wear make some lovely custom dog jumpers which our dogs love. Usually, by the time we get home from Canicross the dogs are then clean and dry (the joys of having a short-haired dog). If you have a long-haired dog then you may need to give your dog a proper wash or bath when they get home followed by a thorough comb to avoid matting of the fur.
Hopefully, you have found this post helpful, if you have any other tips on how to clean and care for your Canicross equipment then we would love to hear from you.
*All the items that we mention about in this blog are purchased by ourselves are items that we genuinely use with our own dogs.