- Pets and Animals
The Trials and Tribulations of Training a Hyper Border Collie into a Bicycle Dog!
In a sweet nutshell, this is a tale of how I helped train my hyper dog into running beside me while on a bicycle-- all the things I did wrong, and all the things I did right. My goal was to give my dog exercise. All the crazy gear, leashes, reflective jacket trials I went through to figure out how to ride safely with my dog and still have fun training her. How I saved my house from being torn apart by the revved up, high energy border collie cross puppy. How bicycling her helped me train her for taking her out for casual walks.
But most of all, how I regained my sanity living with a hyper dog! (Did I mention she was hyper? *laughing*)
If you're looking to exercise your dog with your bicycle, whether your dog is hyper, high energy, or just happy, it's truly a unique approach to exercising dogs! I'll be going through all the gear experiments I tried as well as a sampling of what's out on the market, how to approach introducing your dog to exercising with a bike, and things you as a rider need to be aware of while riding with your dog.
In the end, it's a great way to move at the same speed as your dog, have a great time exercising, and your high energy dog is happier being a bicycle dog out in the big wide world!
Photo Credit: Myself and my hyper (but lovable) border collie cross!
In the beginning . . .
. . . I found myself in a subdivision lot, less that 100' in depth, and a width that usually makes my family walk like scuttling lobsters through the house. Originally we had moved into the house with an older golden retriever, and while there was at least a yard for her to go into behind the house, it was severely lacking in space. In five strides she was across the whole yard. So plenty of walks and tennis ball playing in the park ensued. Those were quite literally, the golden years, the pains of training a dog muted in memory as my golden retriever came from a country lot and was a senior dog when we moved in the 'burbs. There really was no "some training assembly required" with her in this subdivision house, it was more "Have fun taking the dog out for a walk!"
Some years after my golden had passed away, a little black fuzzball re-entered our lives. My delusions about having a happy, smooth transition into our household dog lasted about an hour . . .
Icy was 9 months when we got her, and she was a border collie cross. Black as ink, with brown eyes that got lost in that mischievous little twinkle. Cute as a button. But bolted out of any open doors to the wide world outside. She'd probably even jump through windows given the chance in those early days . . . I'm sure the neighbours found it hilarious to watch this black shadow blur across their yard in a blink, followed by this lumbering and frazzled owner calling out desperately (to a dog that was quite oblivious to her owner's concerns), to "Come Icy! Come!! COME HERE!!!" The tour de force was assuredly the breath puffing out of this owner like a steam engine in the cold winter air, while she sloshed through snow banks with the finesse of a shire horse, the picture complete with pink poke-a-dot wellies and a coat half on and unzipped, while the dog was about half a mile away since the timing of the initial blink.
Icy was caught only because she chose to stop to smell something, and a frazzled owner vowed "Never, ever, EVER again!"
Of course, that "never ever EVER again" resulted in three more bolting episodes followed by sprinting humans-- she gave both my brother, myself, and even a passing-but-game-for-it bystander a great sprint set work out. However, the worse bolting episode triggered the end of this particular pattern-- while visiting friends, Icy bolted out of their front door in a flash, ran right across a busy road, oblivious to what danger cars presented, and giving me a near heart attack. Luckily no one was hurt, no liability to stress about, but my trust levels with her went from knife edge to utterly shattered.
So draconian law ensued-- she was contained only to our fenced backyard, never to be off leash outside of the fenced yard until I could trust her to come back when called. Come that spring, when I walked into the backyard, envisioning the flowering tulips and tiny crocuses, lush spring grass and newly budding tree leaves-- I was treated to a giant mud-pit, where it looked like a battle between the chipmunks, squirrels, and one hyper black border collie, had taken a very long toll on the ground. And I knew with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, that all my built up reserves of grass seed in the world wouldn't be able to help me.
It was training time.
The Culprit . . . - (of the mud pit now located in the backyard, as well as mud tracks into the house . . .)
When dog walking was a torment . . .
It was established quite early on that walking Icy was not going to be enjoyable. We tried it once in the early days of owning her-- a 3 hour walk where she pulled the whole time, disregarded all attempts to get her to heel and relieve pressure off of the leash-- it was a tug of war walk that left us feeling not refreshed from the outdoor air but fairly stressed. The problem was she had never been introduced to walking with people in a calm manner, or even regarding being in a "pack" of sorts. Her previous owners had put her outside to run in a yard, but didn't do a lot of interaction with her in the outside world. To Icy, the outside world meant "Go nuts and run like crazy-- it's a great world out there with all of those smells and rustling movements in the horizon!!!" not "I'll travel with my family, be a happy dog running on the trails with them, but keeping within a certain radius of them."
During those critical moments as a really young pup elements like training her to heel, come when called, or even being spacially aware of the people around her-- she had never been introduced to such concepts from 4 to 9 months, or if she had, they hadn't been repeated. (To this day, she still stays underfoot and is constantly a tripping source to both her and human detriment!) Unfortunately that singular border collie focus that the breed is known for and used for in sheep herding situations-- her focus was not harnessed in that critical window, making it dangerous to let her loose. All she had to see was a squirrel on the other side of the road, and that border collie focus would shut out the rest of the world, including my commands to stop her from running into a danger zone. On top of that her focus turned into obsession levels-- if left alone, she would sit for hours under a tree that she had sighted a squirrel frolicking in the previous day.
And given the state of the backyard, walking was definitely not her pace for her level of energy.
Poll Time! How do you keep you and your dog happy?
How do you exercise your dog?
Enter the bicycle . . . Bicycle dog begins!
Since letting her run loose wasn't an option, and the nearest dog park was miles away, the bicycle became the best option. Thus began the journey of the bicycle dog!
I started bicycling a now year old Icy in the spring-- that was my first mistake!
Spring and Fall have a ton of distractions for dogs-- at least in my area, the spring is rife with young robins and kamikaze squirrels-- some I'm sure who have a personal vendetta with my dog. And yes, I did have a fall exercising my dog with my bike in those beginning stages, and yes, it was due to a flock of fledgling robins and my border collie going ballistic! She went one way, I went the other-- lesson learnt with scraped knees (ouch!)
However, if you do have an option of starting in the beginning of summer, (I'm located in Ontario, if that provides some geographical and weather related reference!) providing it isn't crazy in temperature, the fledgling and young squirrels season tends to wind down and things are a little calmer during the summer months. Of course, depending on where you are, use your best judgement as to what the animal conditions will be!
You want to introduce exercising your dog to the bicycle in a quiet area with as few distractions as possible-- I chose a park that luckily happens to be close by. However, parks tend to have quite a bit of animal distractions, but compared to tangoing with active cars and SUV's on the road, the park was by far the safer choice for Icy and I.
The Most Important Thing
Make sure you introduce your dog to running with you on a bicycle in a SAFE place, with MINIMAL DISTRACTIONS. A park is preferable, but if you don't have access to one, find a quiet area with zero traffic-- an empty parking lot, an empty walkway, & only if necessary-- a very quiet road.
Bicycling on a sidewalk tends to be a safer route as well, but watch out for bylaws. A bicycle is technically a vehicle, and on sidewalks, pedestrians have the right of way first and foremost. Use common sen
The Bicycle Dog's Gear
Basic Tools you'll need to get started!
I went through a few trials with equipment, but in the end the starting cost isn't too expensive. I prefer to attach my dog to my waist with the following equipment:
1) Metal chain leash (acts as a belt on you-- don't try to use regular belts as Icy snapped through two of mine during our biking excursions as they weren't designed for the force a dog can pull on it from say oh, when a squirrel happens to frolic causally by.)
2) Choke collar (or whatever collar you'd like to use) There should be no pressure from the collar at stand or run, you only apply pressure when you're correcting the dog during bicycling.
3) Nylon leash (I've just rolled it to make it a length I'd like to use while I'm on the bike)
4) Reflective Dog Jacket (optional) I hunted around for a Reflective Dog Jacket-- managed to find one made by Shedrow K9 brand. It is an insulated one which is a bit heavy in the fall for Icy, but there are non-insulated reflective dog jackets out there. I've linked the image to the place I bought mine from, but reflective dog gear is out there!
The Human Cyclist's Gear
Keep your head safe and body visible!
Basic Tools are as follows:
1. Reflective Vest
2. Strongly Recommend: Bicycle Helmet (check your local laws if you have to by law wear one, although I wear one regardless as it has saved my head before!)
3. Reflective Pant tie (Velcro and wraps up the pants leg in the fall from getting tangled into your bicycle gears)
4. Gloves (These ones are winter construction gloves, but below are summer gloves I'd recommend wearing to protect your hands from falls!)
Protecting your hands is certainly important for those falls and spills that will unfortunately occur (it's part of the training experience with a high energy dog . . .or at least it's been part of MY experience!) Gloves have saved my hands quite a few times, so they've proven their merit with me!
However, you must make sure whether winter gloves or summer gloves alike, that you can ACCESS YOUR BRAKES UNIMPEDED with your gloves. If they are too thick, they will not do the job. If you can't change gears or grab your dog's leash, then you need to find a pair of gloves slim enough around the fingers but durable for hard work that can do the job.
In my second life I work with horses and do a lot of riding, and I have found that a lot of horse back riding gear lends itself well to training a bicycle dog. The prices for a good pair of horse gloves vary, and honestly, for exercising a dog with a bicycle you don't need anything fancy. At the same time, my summer riding gloves have lasted for years, and take a lot of abuse. I use the Elation Crochet Back gloves (pictured here) myself when bicycling Icy, and they're great in warmer weather-- I have great grip, but my hands can breathe.
You don't need to be a horseback rider to appreciate good equipment, but I'll let you make your own judgement :)
Introducing your Bicycle to your Dog
The Routine Rundown
I was lucky in the fact that Icy took to the bicycle right away, but I also didn't make a big fuss about her in that initial introduction to the bike. I should note too that my experience is with a young, healthy medium sized dog-- if your dog is overweight, or unhealthy, then you should talk with a vet before looking at this exercise. If your dog is a really small hyper dog (like a jack russell) some of the difficulties I experienced as well as the training tools may not be compatible from a medium sized dog to a small dog. Same goes for a really big dog (Irish wolfhound for example). Check out the "Help!" section for some ideas on introducing a difficult large dog to the world of bicycles!
Without further adieu, here is a basic break down of how I approach taking Icy out for a bicycle ride!
1) BICYCLE TIRES: Check the bicycle's tires to make sure they are not flat. Do this BEFORE bringing your dog to the bicycle.
2) BICYCLE BRAKES: Check the bicycle's brakes to make sure they are in good working order WITHOUT the dog. Remember, if you're wearing gloves, make sure they don't impede your brake use or gear changing. Safety first people!
3) BATHROOM ROUTINE: If you can, establish a routine where the dog goes to the bathroom before hitching up to the bicycle. That way there are no "sudden stops" midstride the ride, which can be dangerous to the dog and you alike! In the beginning it took up to 15 minutes of waiting for Icy to figure out the routine, but now I don't even have to ask her to go-- as soon as the bike come's out she's doing her business! If you can't get your dog into a bathroom routine, make sure you have pooper scooper bags with you!
4) SAFE ZONE: In a calm manner, attach the dog to you (or your bicycle hitch). If your dog is really stressed about the bicycle, it would be better to not attach the dog to the bicycle, and have the dog walk along side you and the bicycle. You want your dog in a heel position which may be hard at first if your dog is not trained in it. (I keep my dog on my left side at heel, and have my bicycle on my right.) INTRODUCE THIS IN A SAFE, MINIMAL DISTRACTION AREA. Not in the middle of a busy subdivision road please! A quiet off-peak hours park is preferable. A quiet parking lot can work too, or if your driveway is long enough, that can be a good starting point.
5) THE BICYCLE ALWAYS LEADS. That means the dog is never in front of the front tire, nor dragging behind the back tire. If you're having great difficulties in getting your dog to heel, try walking in circles (dismounted) with the bicycle and your dog in both directions to get your dog used to the fact that there is a third party in this little outing. If walking goes okay, try pedaling, turning with the dog on the outside of the circle (harder to pull you off balance.)
6) PATIENCE. REPETITION. CALM MANNER. The ultimate goal is to have the dog running in tandem and anticipating the bicycle's directional movement. THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. I've been training Icy now for over a year with the bicycle, and she's about 70% there. If your dog is really stressed about the bicycle, you may have to break the goal down into smaller leaps and bounds-- so if the dog is stressed walking with you and the bicycle, keep repeating just walking the dog with you and your bicycle every day until your dog gets used to the bicycle's presence. Don't make a big deal or fuss over the dog's anxiety, otherwise you're training the dog to react with concern over the bicycle. Remember, just stay calm and ask the dog to go forward with the both of you. Repetition is the key to all of this as well as keeping a calm, level head, especially in dog training. Make sure to PRAISE your dog's positive behavior and movements when they start to catch onto what you're asking for!
7) SMALL DISTANCES AND WARM UPS: Start with small distances first! You wouldn't go out and expect to run 5km in less than 18 minutes right? Just like humans, you need to approach exercising your dog wisely especially if you're looking at bicycling some distances. Start your dog with light jog warm up (this will be hard if your dog is hyper as heck, as Icy was, but you want to minimize exercise injury and warm up both of your muscles). This warm up benefits both of you especially if you want to do some sudden "sprints" with your dog and yourself bicycle wise! Choose either time goals or small distance goals: Ie. I'll bike the dog for 10 minutes and see how he's doing. Or, I'll bicycle for a kilometer and check on how both of us are doing! As time goes on, you can gradually lengthen your distances with your dog-- but always keep note of how your dog is doing and looking. It's okay to stop and walk if your dog is looking really tired (or in my case, I have to dismount and catch my breath from trying to beat Icy in a bicycle sprint!)
8) HYDRATION AND COMMON SENSE: Dogs do not sweat, so you really need to keep in mind dehydration especially in the summer months. Morning and evenings tend to be appropriate temperatures to head out with a bicycle dog, but you'll know best depending on your region! Also, a good indicator is listening to their breath while they're running beside your bike-- if they are panting like crazy, bring the speed back down, or come to a full stop if heat exhaustion is a concern. Just like humans in endurance running, you want to hear a nice even pacing to your dog's breathing (as well as your own!)
9) COOL DOWN: A cool down helps afterwards! Walk your dog either with you on or off your bicycle-- they should be tired enough but have a happy tail wag by the end for you to stay on your bike if you're cooling down. Cool down will help both you and your dog's muscles, rather than stiffening up like crazy if you just full sprint home then collapse in your house. Not that I've done that at all . . . *whistling into the air* *laughing*
What am I trying to achieve with my dog?
The goal of bicycling with a dog!
The end goal is to have a dog hitched up to you or your bicycle with no tension or pressure on the leash and choke collar. How do you achieve that? I use pressure training-- when I'm correcting the dog, I'm applying pressure. As soon as the dog heads toward the desired behavior/ action, I release pressure. I usually combine the pressure on the leash with a vocal command, so in the future, after you've repeated the same correction with the gentle pressure on the leash so many times with the vocal command, you'll find the vocal command will suffice without any use of the leash (or have to use it very little). Yay accomplished training!
For example, in the beginning, Icy wanted to run up to every dog she saw, especially when she was already running full tilt with a bicycle. But the goal for me was to bicycle past dog owners walking their dogs, so I would grab onto the leash and correspond with pressure tugs (tug and release) along with saying "FORWARD." At first, she would strain like crazy against the leash, and I would have to counter with pressure tug when she fought against the direction of the bicycle and I. I would release the pressure on her leash the minute she started running parallel again with the bicycle, saying "FORWARD" every time. In the early days of the bicycle dog endeavor I'd have to correct her 5-6 times. Her pulling movement also was so strong I'd have to counter with my own body balance on the bicycle (hence helpful to have the leash tied around my waist!). However, gradually over time she caught on quickly that if she continued to run forward with me rather than against the pressure of the leash and the direction of the bicycle, there were no pressure corrections. The pressure corrections with "FORWARD" went down to 2-3 times, and then gradually 1-0 times. She soon started to run by other dogs with minimal fuss. The curiosity was still there for her regarding approaching other dogs (no problem with that!) but Icy soon figured out that when she was with the bicycle we were going to run, and not stop to check out every dog!
This same technique also helped her in "letting go" of squirrel obsessions-- and that very same "FORWARD" command helped surprisingly when I started walking her on a leash after bicycling her for about 3 months.
But really, the best sensation is pedaling through the summer air, wind in your hair, glancing down for a moment, and realize that for once, you are running at the same speed as your dog. Your dog is on par with your tempo, and you are on par with your dog's rhythm. And you both feel like free spirits while doing it!
Why tie the dog to my waist?
Or what if I don't want to exercise my dog attached to my waist?
There are a couple of reasons why I tie my dog with a leash to my waist to exercise her with a bicycle:
1) I never researched online what products were out there that dealt in the exercising dogs with bicycles realm. Thankfully, you my fine reader, do have some choices if you don't want to go with my bicycling option. I've listed them below thanks to the marvels of Amazon!
2) With the leash around my waist, if my dog decided to pull to chase something while we're at top bicycling speed, the leash is pulling from my body's center of gravity. It is a lot easier to counter her pull from my waist rather than if I was holding the leash with my hand, which will most assuredly cause me to lose my balance and potentially pull me off.
3) With the dog attached to my body, if I have to ditch the bicycle, she is following me, and not getting entangled up in a now riderless bicycle. You have no idea how many unexpected flying dismounts I've done thanks to poor pavement conditions in my subdivision-- but thankfully, both myself and my dog have been none the worse for wear, and the bicycle has been safely recollected and remounted, bicycle dog back at the ready!
4) I can be hands free with the leash, but I can also easily reach down and grab it to ask for corrections from her! I find it a great way to have a "hands on but hands off" training ability!
If you don't have a super hyper dog and a dog that is already very well trained, or will just happily follow you to the ends of the earth (that was my golden retriever in a nutshell!) then there are some great bicycle attachments for dogs that you may want to look into! These bike attachments let you have a very pleasurable ride with a bicycle dog!
What if I don't want to tie my dog to my waist? - I don't have a bicycle dog prone to squirrel chasing!
If you're comfortable that your dog won't be a handful to handle when exercising him or her with your bicycle, there are some interesting tools out there to help both exercise dogs and yourself!
Easy installation, very lightweight, and a great way to exercise high energy dogs!
Attaches and runs a dog behind a bicycle. If you've got a very easy going dog this is a great tool-- if you have a dog prone to try to run after small animals, keeping your bike balanced may be difficult.
Great leash flexibility in this design, allowing the dog some give while running!
This is for the luckiest dog owner that doesn't have to worry about exercising your dog-- your dog gets to ride shotgun in a bicycle basket!
Another lucky dog owner that wants to take their dog for a ride! This basket comes with a harness for your little friend, to help prevent sudden adventurous parachuting out of the basket!
Another Interesting Way to Train Your Bicycle Dog-- The Walky Dog Bike Leash
Another Tool Option That Hitches to Your Bike, and Not You.
This interesting option was brought to my attention by a few fellow readers in the guestbook log down below, and I have to admit it has caught my attention. A few of the fellow hyper border-collie owners have used the Walky Dog Bike Leash successfully to help train and exercise their bicycle dog. I've added the company's own product video which shows in a casual way how the dogs are hitched up to the bicycle and enjoy running with the bike. For those who aren't interested in attaching their dog to their waist, this could be a very powerful solution in bicycle dog attachments.
Thanks to the enthusiasm of the readers I've checked into the company a little bit and the strengths of the Walky Dog Bike Leash. It definitely has some very apparent strengths that I am very intrigued to try with Icy.
For one, it attaches to below the seat of your bicycle-- again, more in line with your core balance (as opposed to attaching to your wheel behind, which could be really hard to counter balance if your dog decides to run another direction!). This attachment place on the bicycle also keeps your dog behind your front wheel, which cuts out possible accident variations with the front bicycle wheel and your dog!
Two: The Walky Dog leash has great "stretchy give" and looks like it can attach to a harness or choke collar. I'm on the fence about harnesses for dogs (well, at least for Icy) because I've found they tend to encourage "sled dog" tendencies in hyper dogs rather than pressure release with leashes, but again use the tool that best works for you and your dog! With Icy she's had harnesses slide right off of her at a walk, so definitely test any harness you get with your dog first in a controlled area before the bicycle. Be sure there isn't any chafing or rubbing happening on your dog's body from the harness, especially since it will be exasperated while running a bicycle dog.
Three: The Walky Dog leash attachment appears to keep the dog at a reasonable distance away from the bicycle, but not so far out that it would be dangerous.
Anyways, check out their video, and if you're interested in trying their product with your bicycle dog excursions, this is just another possibly powerful tool to help facilitate you and your pet dog! Please let me know if you've had some great experiences with it in the comments below!
As of yet I can't throw my two cents in on the debate (as I'm writing this Icy and I are holed up watching the amazing power of snow storms and the winter winds play havoc outside the window) but I am intrigued by its apparent strengths that I'm planning try this tool with Icy when the spring/summer finally rolls in and the bicycle wheels can come out again. I'll update on that little "bicycle experience" when the time comes! (Hopefully with new knee pads too *laughing*)
Walky Dog Bike Leash Video
Looks like fun doesn't it? I'm waiting for summer to come before I can test this with Icy :)
Bicycling your dog in the evening
A serious element you should consider is if you're exercising your dog during dusk or dark hours, how are drivers going to see you and your dog? Whether it is predawn or dusk, vehicles are rarely anticipating a cyclist let alone one exercising a dog. A lot of times I've been taking Icy out around 6pm and it is dark-- and with her being low to the ground and owning a pitch black coat on top of it, cars don't anticipate her at all. While the reflective jacket has been the best option, in warmer temperatures I've found key chain LED lights to be another good solution.
I typically go for a red colour because red catches my attention when driving, but there are other pet light models out there that have coloured light flashing sequences. Check your local pet store, or if you're Canadian, check out my "Searching for Gear in Canada" List.
Reflective Jackets Available - Jackets vary in insulation-- from summer weather to winter
The best thing to do is to look at your dog, and see what kind of coat they have. Then take into account what that coat is like during the winter, and the summer. Your dog may only need a light insulated dog jacket for his fur may be thick enough to take the cold. Likewise, in the summer time, that thick furred dog may only need a reflective jacket. Keep in mind most of these jackets are serving two purposes-- visibility, and insulation. Choose accordingly to your dog's needs and your climate's patterns.
Lightweight and bright orange-- many dog owners have used this jacket to help keep their dogs visible during hunting season!
A great jacket for both dog durability and visibility-- can take a romp through the woods, or a casual trot beside a bike!
A lightly lined reflective jacket with water resistance.
The same as the Casual Canine post as above, just a holiday red edition colour instead!
A heavier lined jacket with reflective strips.
Searching for Gear in Canada?
Here are some of the stores I managed to find both my human gear and dog gear for Icy. Since I live in Canada, some of these stores may only be Canadian based, although a lot of them are based in both Canada and USA.
- Greenhawk Harness & Equestrian (Dog Reflective Jackets & Summer Riding Gloves)
Greenhawk is an equestrian store, but they have an excellent selection of dog products. This is where I found Icy's reflective winter Shedrow K9 jacket, and while some may find Greenhawk's prices higher compared to other items out on the market, I fi
- Lee Valley (LED Dog Collar Lights)
While I could rave on and on about while I love the creativity and ingenuity of tools in Lee Valley, this is where I found the LED Carabiner light to clip onto my dog's colour so she'd be visible in the dark evenings. Lee Valley has it very economica
- Mark's Work Warehouse -- (Insulated Construction Gloves & Reflective Gear)
Great place for hardy and durable clothes and clothing accessories-- very practically designed stuff! I got my reflective construction winter gloves from Mark's Work Warehouse, and they have survived the beating from the bicycle trials!
- TSC Store (Nylon and Chain Dog Leashes & Reflective Gear)
Another good store for pet needs and reflective gear-- very outdoor, practical, and agricultural based products, very handy for price comparisons! They had a great selection of leashes, from nylon, leather, to chain!
If I could do it again . . . (knowing that I will with the next dog!) - Protecting for bicycle falls while dog exercising!
One thing I'd strongly recommend is investing into some mountain bike knee and elbow pads. (My brother mountain bikes and asked me after my third spill with bicycle Icy why didn't I get some knee and elbow padding? I aptly told him "shut up!" in that great sisterly come back way, but I hugged him for the suggestion!)
My "unexpected ejection" experiences off of my bicycle while biking the dog have resulted in the same pattern injuries-- bruised knees and scraped hands and elbows. Solving the hands were easy-- I invested in construction grade winter gloves (which happened to be reflective, yay!) for colder weather, and for hot weather I used my elation crochet back leather riding gloves (I ride horses, and found a lot of my riding gear lent itself well to the trials of bicycling a dog!) Check my "Searching for Gear in Canada" heading for the links.
However, for my knees, and for yours my dear reader, I would strongly recommend mountain biking knee guards WITH PADDING ON THE SIDES. Yes, having the harder knee cap guards are wanted to protect your bone knee cap, but all of my spills have hit my knee on the side. Not the front, though I'm sure it's waiting for me in a future ride!
This isn't surprising if you consider a bicycle's lateral movement isn't great, and attaching a dog to you or your bike will test it's lateral line! (Hence, bruises on the side of your knee!)
Plus, mountain bike knee guards and elbow guards are designed for bicycle movements, meaning your limbs are protected but not impeded by the guards while peddling! Thank you!
The following sites carry a vast array of mountain biking guards and gear, but I'm partial to the Fox Launch Pro guards. Make sure you find something both comfortable and protective for your bicycle dog excursions!
Mountain Bike Elbow and Knee Guard Sites - And body armor available if you're that concerned! ;)
Some options to lessen the sting of falling while exercising your dog on the bike!
- Xsports Protective
An American company with oodles in the extreme sport gear area. Makes my bicycling dog excursions look like warm milk in comparison!
- Shock Garden
Another American company but with gear in biking, skateboarding, and derby areas. Lots to choose from!
- Bike Radar
A site listing guards in gear in the UK.
Help! I'm going through such trouble with training my dog with a bicycle! - Squidoo Lens that compliment and give tips for approaching dog training!
If you're still having great trouble exercising your dog with a bicycle, then it may be time to look at how you're approaching training and interacting with your dog. My experience with horses and dogs have very similar approaches, and repetition with these animals tends to be the biggest key. That can take time, and can be frustrating, but remember you need to keep the calm head. You are building a good relationship with your dog; exercise is definitely one of the biggest things that can help that communication!
As I'll touch base on below, one of the unexpected bonuses to working with Icy on a bicycle is that it helped out tremendously with training her on how to walk with me. Two years later walks are still mini-training exercises with her and I, but we've made great progress.
Perhaps your dog is too big and powerful for you to feel comfortable tying to your waist or attaching to your bicycle at full energy level. If you're really dedicated to bicycling with your dog (and trust me, it is amazing pedaling full speed through the streets with this happy bullet dog beside you!) you can look at tiring and warming up your dog by exercising him/her on a treadmill first to bring down that crazy pent up energy in your dog. Then immediately afterwards, warm up yourself, and introduce your hopefully a little calmer, and a little less energy high dog to the bicycle.
If the exercise is just disastrous, go back to basics, and look at how you are interacting with your dog. Start in an enclosed yard and work on basics-- sit, stay, come, fetch, heel! Dogs have an great aptitude for changing into a balanced dog, if you know how to set up some basic rules and interaction repetition.
Remember, in the end, it's a huge learning experience, and my experience is just one perception that took many different little approaches and used a learning curve over time. Your dog may have no issues with a bicycle, or it could be the hardest hurdle you overcome! Keep it fun, use small achievements as huge mileposts, and in the end, you'll have a great bicycle dog, and two very happy minds-- you and your dog!
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- Teach your dog to walk on a dog treadmill!
When I got my last injury (an iliopsoas muscle pull) at an agility trial in January 2008, I had a lot of rehab to do to get back in shape for running agility again. Mum helped me with lots of stretching and strengthening exercises, but she also taugh
The Unexpected Benefits of Training a Bicycle Dog
Some perks from working with my dog with a bicycle!
One of the perks I got from working with Icy with a bicycle was that it actually made other training exercises easier-- primarily because I was "burning off" that high level of energy. But the real unexpected bonus I got from training a bicycle dog was that commands and trained behavior I instilled with Icy while I was on the bicycle with her actually overlapped to when I was handling her during a walk.
The bicycle helped me train her in the heel command-- through repetition and pressure corrections she learned to run beside me while I was on the bicycle, and that translated to coming beside me when I was walking her with a vocal command of "HEEL."
The bicycle also helped a lot with breaking her from obsession modes (total border collie unfortunately!) that could get her into trouble if she didn't listen. For example, she goes ballistic when she sees a squirrel. No problem, that's natural behavior. But when she's running across a busy road to get it, then we have a severe safety issue, not to mention a heart attack for the owner and incredible stress and serious accidents for drivers! Thanks to the "FORWARD" command I worked with her, she learnt that she had to let go of trying to stare and chase squirrels we had zoomed by while running full tilt with the bicycle. She figured out that it was either keep running forward, or get dragged (which she never let happen.) The same principle worked for other dogs we'd pass. Now at a walk with Icy I only have to say "FORWARD" and she passes other dog walkers with minimal fuss. I wouldn't say she's perfect every time, but it's a tremendous step forward from when I first got her!
Overall, the bicycle has been a great tool for both Icy and I to have better communication, and quite frankly, move at Icy's pace with a great deal of fun. There's no better exhilaration than zooming down an empty street, hearing your dog gallop happily beside you, pumping the oxygen through your lungs, grinning with exultation as both you and your dog keep in perfect balanced stride.
Remember, take it day by day, keep it light and calm, but most of all, have fun with your bicycle dog!
I'd love to hear from anyone who has also embarked on the task of enjoying riding their bicycle with their dog! Any tips? Suggestions? Problems? Happy moments? Feel free to drop a line :)