If there is one thing that really bothers me, it is when I see cyclists biking with their dogs attached. It really scares me! I love the whole idea of exercising together but there are 2 things I worry about: exhaustion and injury. I am positive that there are cyclists out there that take the necessary precautions, but I am equally sure that some do not!
The whole buddy system sounds great but “precautions” are certainly necessary. One thing that you and your dog, could do for sure, is have a check up with your respective “Doctor”. Get the “Ok” for this kind of exercise. Are you both heart healthy? Are your feet/pads up to the challenge? Do you have the right physical make up for this kind of cardio-vascular workout. I would never even consider hooking my Pug up for this type of exercise-first her body structure is not capable of that kind of exercise and her breathing ability is not designed to take on that kind of exertion. Bailey my Border Collie, on the other hand, back in his younger days, probably would have had no problem sustaining an easy trot without tiring or getting winded on a 7 km run! A dog that is up to the challenge physically should have no problem running a 1/2 mile-in fact, it should almost seem effortless.
Beyond taking a look at the physical demands, precautionary safety tips must also be considered:
- You invest in a proper harness, attachment and gear for your dog.
- You know the route and understand that is it is comfortable and void of dangerous objects; a route easily visible to drivers and easy to manoeuvre for both you and your dog.
- You create a routine that starts off by walking the bike with your dog to practice what it’s like to walk in close proximity to a bicycle and so your dog can acquire a steady and comfortable gait.
- You understand this type of co-ed exercise is not meant to be a workout session preparing for competition
- Your dog understands some key commands; a common language that so that certain words will resonate with the dog on route: stop, go, left, right, slow, good dog, etc.
- You have water packs for both you and your dog and you prepare for scheduled water/rest breaks along the way.
- You make sure to get your bike checked and tuned so it is in proper working order
- You buy reflective orange vests for both of you
- You make a plan to exercise with the dog earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid heat
You can embrace this entire human/canine exercise venture but start slowly, and be sure to monitor your dog’s well-being. It is dangerous to start this kind of activity and expect your dog to be equipped and ready for long rides and fast strides without the proper training and preparation. Keep in mind, that dogs will do what is expected of them and may not necessarily stop running. Many dogs will continue to run past the point of exhaustion just to please you!
In reality, dogs are meant to roam and not meant to sprint/run for long periods, so make sure your dog is cantering along at a comfortable pace. Always be on high alert for signs of exhaustion/heat exhaustion and injury:
- heavy panting-tongue protruding
- Stumbling/dragging feet/loosing its pace/gait
- Glazed eyes/Disorientation
- Bloody pads
I often see many people use only a leash and this is highly dangerous for this kind of joint activity. It is important to purchase proper equipment that has been tried, trusted and true. There are at least 4 models of doggie cycling gear available that seem to be effective, secure, trusted, and safe on the market today: The Springer, The Bikerdog , The Walky Dog, and the K9 Cruiser.
My opinion still remains the same-I think that now that the spring is here- leave the dog behind and hit the bike trails yourself! Take the dog out for a nice walk later!
And just in case you do see me- biking with my dogs- guaranteed they will not be galloping beside me but rather- riding along in comfort in our Wike Wagalong Dog Trailer (made in Canada and found at wicylce.com.