We love our dogs and take them with us wherever we go, whenever possible. I am always looking for more dog-friendly adventures, so you can imagine my excitement, when I saw some pictures of Melissa rock-climbing with her dog, Hero. I just had to find out more about them!
Melissa embodies the term "if I can't bring my dog, I'm not going." She has found dog-friendly activities that are not only unique but also challenging. Melissa horseback rides, paddle boards and rock-climbs with her dog and both participate in dog events like dog survivals and canicross.
Read more about these unique activities........
So I ask Melissa what she likes best about traveling and exercising with her dogs.
Melissa: "Working/training and traveling with my dogs means teamwork. We need to understand each other and be willing to listen and be a team. We love to canicross, dogsurvivals, hike and even do some rockclimbing! They also come with me while horseriding. When running together, the dogs support me to go faster and lighter then running solo. I support them in giving them direction and rest when necessary. If we don't work together it will fail epically. For survival and climbing the same, the dog need to trust me big time, it makes me so damn proud when he does! Specifically when climbing, it can be difficult for the dog and then he trusts me to help him, reaching the top together is the most amazing feeling!"
Canicross is a sport first developed in Europe as a way for sled dogs to train in the off-season and has evolved into a stand-alone sport. The team consists of a person and dog who run together. Typically the person wears a waist belt, the dog a specifically designed harness, and the two are joined by an elastic line that reduces shock to both the person and dog. A true canicross setup will increase a runner’s speed due to the pulling action of their dog. (Definition taken from CaniCross USA)
What is the most essential item you take with you on your dog adventures?
Melissa: "Good supplies like a harness that fits well and comfortable, dog shoes and special leadropes. Also good dog food and supplements to support his muscles. And above all of course a very good relationship and trust with your dog! We have a special climbing harness, a canicross harness, one for hiking, one for walking in the mountains, every discipline needs its own gear and that's very important! Oops I was supposed to give one :)
The climbing specifically started when I met my wife and we went climbing, Hero was always trying to go with me, of course he couldn't and it wasn't safe... We started looking for a climbing harness for dogs and found it in Ruffwear. Normally people use this type of harness to just lift the dog, but Hero is actually going with me and climbs. Sometimes he needs my help to show him where to place his paws or to lift him. It's not easy, but definitely worth it."
Melissa, what is the most challenging thing about taking your dog rock climbing?
From your experience, what are some of the things pet owners should teach their dogs before they take them on such adventurous activities?
Melissa: "I think it is important to teach your dog the basics first, that will create a bond between you and your dog. We taught specific commands, like for canicross: left, right, straight and stop. For climbing "up" to make clear for the dog he needs to go up.
Most important your dog must learn to trust you, you are his leader and with you beside him, everything will end well and he's safe!"
Melissa and her wife, Veerle, live in Dinant, Belgium with their two dogs Hero and Lara.
Melissa sums it up quiet nicely, when she tells me: "Our dogs are always coming with us and are really part of our family."
If you like to find out more about CaniCross, visit this website CaniCross USA
For events like Dogsurvival in the US, see Mud runs or similar running events. Here is one that I was able to find online: Mud Run With Your Dog
I would love to hear about your unique dog-friendly activities. Please comment below or join us on Facebook at Keep Your Paws on the Road