Canion and the Agile Dog Harness: How It All Started

How Canion Was Born: The Story behind the Brand
Anne Sørensen
Anne Sørensen
As a pet parent, you go the extra mile to make sure your beloved companion is happy, healthy, and safe. Chances are, you'd do just about anything to see him thrive and live a good life. But things are not always that simple. Caring for a dog comes with its challenges, from feeding him properly to knowing when to call the vet. 

For example, you might have considered buying a dog harness at some point. Perhaps you already have one, but you’re not satisfied with it.

Like their wolf ancestors, our canine friends are meant to roam free and explore the world around them. Although we can not give them complete freedom, we can give them the freedom to move their body. But traditional dog harnesses often restrict their movement and cause discomfort, altering their gait and posture.

Harnesses are great for walking and training our buddies, but their risks often outweigh the benefits—and that’s the reason our journey began.

Canion was born in response to the untapped demand for safer, stronger, and smarter dog harnesses that blend high functionality and breakthrough design with modern technology. Motivated by a lifelong love of dogs, we embarked on a journey to develop innovative solutions to the problems experienced by dog owners.

Here is our story…

How It All Started from Our Founder’s Perspective

Anne og Floke
Me and my best buddy Floke

Hi, I’m Anne, and I am the founder of Canion. That is, I had a founding partner – a red 10-year-old Pinscher named Floke. He follows me everywhere I go and is my best friend, as well as close family. I care for him, and he has my back in any situation.

The Pinscher breed has been used as guard dogs for hundreds of years, and they are very loyal and protective of their family. And it was when I got my first Pincher a few years earlier, it really opened my eyes to the complete and uncompromised willingness to protect that dogs possess.

In the spring of 2019, after years of frustration and a lot of wasted money on dog harnesses, I got an idea. Back then, I had a hobby of making dog collars from paracord, and one afternoon I started playing around with different ways to tie a rope around Floke to see if I could make a harness that functioned better than what we could find on the market. Because finding a strong, yet flexible harness with the perfect fit for Floke seemed next to impossible.

Many harnesses were too harsh for Floke’s delicate skin, causing itchiness and abrasions. Others would cause back and shoulder pain, throat pressure, and everything in between.

If we managed to find one that seemed to have better ergonomic qualities, they were too weak and broke within weeks, or became heavy and expanded when wet. We also had problems with harnesses twisting or even accidentally coming off, which could cause dangerous situations.

As you can imagine, creating the perfect dog harness wasn’t an easy task. Poor Floke had to get up on the floor so many times that evening to be my test bunny, but our efforts paid off. It wasn’t long until the prototype started to take shape. I actually think we solved the main features that very evening. And after that, it’s been all about solving some technical challenges and fine-tuning the Agile dog harness to make it as safe, strong, and smart as I wanted it to be.

The Technical Nitty-Gritty

Testing an early prototype of the Agile dog harness on Floke
Testing an early prototype of the Agile dog harness on Floke

Although I don’t have a formal technical background, I enjoy analyzing and searching for patterns and ways to improve the things around us. I also get satisfaction from solving logical problems in new, creative ways, and I rarely find something impossible to accomplish. These personality traits, as well as my love for dogs, were the pre-seed of Canion.

Since the beginning of 2019, I have been working with several product developers, R&D partners, and K9 experts to optimize the Agile harness. We spent a lot of time fine-tuning each component, researching the best materials, and testing the ergonomics of our product to ensure a perfect fit.

The most challenging part was developing the technical components needed to open, close, and adjust the harness. Not only should the locks be able to carry heavy loads when a large working dog jumps and pulls hard, but they should also be easy to open and close for the handler—even with gloves on.

An earlier version of the Agile dog harness tested on beautiful Freia
An earlier version of the Agile dog harness tested on beautiful Freia

Then there’s a whole set of other considerations to take into account, such as making sure the harness doesn’t easily get caught on sticks and branches. The dog should also be able to lie down comfortably while wearing the harness, and the product has to be strong enough to withstand harsh weather, sunlight, water, and mud.

Finally, we wanted to create a highly customizable dog harness that allows handlers to replace or upgrade the components that keep it in place. These features will change the way dogs and humans work together, delivering superior functionality and value.

The Agile harness enables working dogs to perform at their peak while enjoying the freedom they deserve.

The Inspiration behind the Name

Finding the perfect brand name was an intense and challenging process. I wanted a name that felt right for the brand and was also short and strong.

Many words were gathered, split, and put together in new ways. I had a couple of options in mind, but I wasn’t sure which one would work best. So I made a survey with a short description of the brand identity and posted it online. Canion came out as the clear winner!

The whole process took hours and days of thinking, feeling, researching, asking around, and playing in an Excel sheet, but I loved Canion from the start. It’s a fusion name made from different words related to what we do and who we are. Cani comes from the Latin word canis, which means dog. The suffix «on» refers to taking something on—like dog apparel and accessories.

My First Dogs

Canion is more than just a brand—it’s a story of love for dogs, the unsung heroes in our lives. My inspiration came from the big-hearted little buddies that surrounded me from a young age.

Casper, my family’s first pup, entered my life when I was 12 years old. He was a strong-minded Cairn terrier who feared nothing and became the center of our family.

I have always loved animals and spent as much time as I could with anyone four-legged, but dogs became my favorites. It didn’t matter if some considered them weird or ugly, or if they were dog show champions—they were all beautiful to me.

When I moved away from home, it would take many years before I got my first own dog—a black and tan Pinscher. By then, I was 30 and felt like my life was whole again. He was one of the eight puppies in his litter, and they were all playing in the backyard with three adult dogs when I arrived to pick him up. It was a sunny summer day, and dogs and toys were spinning around everywhere on the green lawn.

Denniz, my first dog
Denniz, my first dog

I stood on the patio for a while, watching and enjoying the sight of them all in complete chaotic symbiosis. Suddenly, one of the puppies broke away from the playground and stumbled up to the wooden patio, climbed up on it, and sat down right by my left leg, looking out at the rest of them by my side. He just sat there, touching my leg with his shoulder, gazing out at his family like he was saying, «It’s time to move on to my new family.”

At that moment, I didn’t know that this was the puppy the breeder had picked out for me until she pointed it out. And when she did, my eyes teared up because I felt like I found my dog soulmate. I named him Denniz. He only lived to be two years and seven months old when he was tragically hit by a car and killed. That was the worst day of my life, and he will always have a very special place in my heart.

Shortly after this heartbreaking event, I got another Pinscher—this time, a red one. That was Floke, who is still by my side wherever I go. He’s almost 10 years old, and I cannot imagine my life without him.

The Power of a Child’s Dream

My childhood was about exploring and being outdoors as much as possible. I was a visionary child who loved to build and create things. Both in the form of pencil drawings, and physical objects. The older generation in my family used to say, What is she up to now? That girl is going to be an entrepreneur with all her projects!

The projects were often too large to finish, as I did not see my childish limitations. But even so, drawing out a building on paper and dragging some logs around was enough to keep the dream alive for me as a 10-year-old.

Today, I know that this mindset of thinking big and believing that anything is possible has defined me all my life, and it still does.

Personally, I could never settle in a static or rule-oriented environment, and, for this reason, I struggled with motivation in school. However, I managed to make it through. But I think being a founder is, at least for me, something I was meant to do.

It would take many years, but I never let go of the drive to create something great, and now we are going to change the lives of dogs and their handlers for the better.

Making a Dream Come True

While I didn’t see any limitations as a child, things are quite different in real life. When running a business, you really get to test your gut feelings and beliefs. That’s especially true when someone tries to divert you in a completely different direction based on their own agenda or take on things.

Input is great, and no one can do it all alone, but you need to keep your vision and end goal clear, or the project will lose purpose at some point. I don’t think this is being talked about much in the entrepreneurial world, and many projects get stranded because of bad advice and straying too far away from the legitimate purpose.

Testing the Agile harness on a military dog
Testing the Agile harness on a military dog

In my opinion, it’s very important to touch down once in a while on why you started this journey. Whenever something feels like it’s going in the wrong direction, remind yourself that you are the reason it began in the first place. And the reason you did matters. Keep the people who share your vision and are willing to pull together close but cut off those who will only create noise and obstruction.

My vision for Canion is to innovate dog equipment to better the lives of our canine companions and their handlers. I’m on a mission to create products that keep dogs as safe as possible and to become a clear voice for promoting health and efficiency in all aspects of dog care.

I’m positive that Canion fills a gap in the market, and making Agile is like laying down the first cornerstone. A solid dog harness will always be at the core of what we provide, but I will never consider our mission completely accomplished, as we can always improve and find new ways to aid K9 teams in their work.