Dog Sports - What Is Bikejoring?
A Good Use For That Mountain Bike
Bikejoring by definition is a dry land activity that is similar to scootering or carting with your dog, however, is widely used to train sled dogs in the off season. This is another form of exercising involving mostly arctic breeds such as malamutes but can really encompass many different breeds of dog.
The exercise and the running is great. The dogs are taught some basic mushing commands and you are off "to the races". This sport involves having a harness on your dogs and a towline that connects them to the bicycle while you ride it. They run ahead of you connected to the towline and you pedal the bike. The outlay for equipment would be the bicycle (and most definitely a helmet and some elbow and knee pads (if not a full rubber suit or perhaps a bubble).
You also need the harness(es) and towline that you can purchase on-line under sledding equipment or bikejoring if you would like very professional ones. It is a great way to exercise malamutes or any high energy dogs; however, the athletic agility that is required is something to keep in mind. It can be a wonderful way to run your dog but it can also be a very dangerous one because the risk of falling to the human involved is great! Again though for someone very athletic, this is a great form of exercise not only for the human counterpart but for the dog as well!
In bikejoring, the most important points would be to know the area that you are planning to exercise in, i.e. the terrain, knowing the amount of traffic at the time you plan to exercise with your dogs and keeping your exercising to times when there are less people/less dogs - at least to start out with. Running on paved surfaces for long periods of time is not advisable because it can stress the dogs in terms of pads and limbs.
Training the dog(s) beforehand also is paramount to a good experience and especially learning the most important word - "whoa" or "stop" in some form. Oftentimes when there is a fall, the dog or dogs do not even know that their rider is missing or has fallen. They will usually keep running, usually with the bike in tow.
It would be best as well to start with one dog and work up to adding others until expertise at controlling one dog is assured. Once a malamute knows that there is pulling involved, he or she will literally rise to the occasion and seek to pull you as quickly and for as long as possible.
A good way to teach a malamute to pull a bike before you attempt it with them running full tilt is to have the dog harnessed and on the towline, then WALK the bike behind them teaching them a little at a time in terms of commands. Make clear what you expect. Standard mushing commands can be used or commands that you and the dog understand between you. It does not take long at all for them to master it. Again though, most important command - WHOA.
It can be a great form of exercise but the preparation and training beforehand is essential to a positive experience. The malamute will almost always have a positive experience, however, the training ensures that the human will also! It is a great sport only given the breed, speed and their total involvement, it can become quickly overwhelming for the novice especially if you fall and are covered in road rash. Always remember that there is roughly at least 100 pounds of torque PER DOG pulling you through space and have a healthy respect for that!
Bikejoring Points To Remember
- Train your dog first by walking behind them with the bike and teach them commands
- Purchase the best safety helmet you can afford and wear it at all times
- Make sure your health insurance policy is up to date
- Check your bike to make sure that it is in sound repair
- Make sure you have purchased proper harnesses and towline for the sport
- Wear clothing such as designed for biking to keep from tangling in the wheels
- Teach basic commands to your dog(s) and make sure that they are capable of obeying
- Never attach the towline to the handlebars
- Do not run dogs for great lengths of time over paved surfaces
- Give your dog(s) frequent water and potty breaks
- Clean up after said potty breaks if necessary
- Research this sport as any other before attempting
- Carry a first-aid kit with you
- Always let someone know where you are or have someone with you who can assist in the event of a crash or get help
- Carry a cell phone
What A Ride!
Resources and Equipment
Skijoring - The Winter Counterpart To This
- Skijoring - Another Winter Sport To Exercise Your Dog
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- Sled Dog Central - Skijoring Information
- Skijoring in the Adirondacks. Cross country skiing with your dog. Your source for Equipment and Gear
- "Skijor Now, your source for skijoring, canicross and bikejoring equipment and information"
- Skijoring.com, skijoring with your dog, how to skijor, skijoring equipment, where to skijor
- Black Ice