The weather is getting warmer and your bike, much like your pooch, begs to get outside. With a few safety considerations, taking a bike ride with your dog at your side isn’t off limits. In this article, we are providing part one of a useful checklist of to get you started.
Brush up on Command Dog Training
Some dogs can be wary of large objects, such as bicycles and strollers. It is best to get your dog acquainted with your bike before attempting to take that first ride. Use treats and positive reinforcement to introduce your dog to your bike. Consider having a friend ride a bike nearby while you hold your dog on a leash. Slowly decrease the distance between the bike and your dog until your dog comfortably responds to your commands without minding the bike’s presence.
Bicycling.com recommends adding commands like “slow,” “left” and “right” to your dog’s repertoire so you can prepare your dog for upcoming turns in advance. Once your dog has a good grasp on these concepts, you can begin practicing riding with your dog.
Next you can walk with your bike and your dog to get your dog used to the idea of the bike being a normal part of a walk. Once your dog is comfortable with having the bike in close proximity during walks, you can attempt mounting the bike.
In a quiet place free of distractions, then attempt to mount your bike and make simple maneuvers. Add turns and stops until your dog is comfortable. Do not pull your dog alongside your bike. If your dog freezes, stop and go back to walking next to your bike. When using the command “slow,” be sure your tone of voice matches the behavior you wish to see from your dog.
Start Endurance Dog Training
Dog training is not only command training, but also endurance training. Your dog will need to be able to keep up with your bike. Get a full veterinarian check to be sure your dog is not only healthy enough for a new exercise routine, but that the act of jogging won’t aggravate any underlying conditions. Overweight dogs should begin training with regular walking routines rather than going straight into strenuous jogging.
Just like us humans, dogs need time to get up to speed and distance. Start by riding at a walking speed on a relatively flat path for a short length. After a week or two, build up to a quicker walking pace. Also keep in mind that while you will be riding comfortably on your bike, your dog will still be jogging on the path you choose. Be sure the bike path is comfortable for your dog’s paws by avoiding surfaces like hot or chipped asphalt. Consider shaded greenway trails or parks that have specifically permitted the use of bikes and leashed dogs.
Watch your dog closely. If Fido appears to struggle, slow down or stop and allow your dog to rest and drink water. If you have any concerns or questions, be sure to bring them up to your veterinarian. They can help you make the best decision for you and your dog’s lifestyles.