What is Bikejoring? It is a way to have fun and exercise your dog at the same time.
Bikejoring is a rather simple concept. All you need is a dog, a bike, and a harness for your dog, and something that attaches your dog to your bike. You can get pretty fancy with all this stuff, but really, your main goal is comfort. As long as you and your dog are comfortable you can have a lot of fun.
The Bike You don't need a fancy bike. You need a bike that has good brakes and good tires. If you want to use a dog scooter, that's fine, all these same training principals apply.
The Dog Harness
Read this article on harnesses That picture up there is of an x-back harness, but there are other types which you will learn about in the harness article.
Bike Attachment Your most important goal here is safety. You need a strong rope such as climbing rope and a clever method of tying that rope to the stem of your bike. You also need a swivel snap to attach the other end of the rope to your dog's harness. There should be about 5 feet between your front bike tire and your dog.
Your biggest obstacle is making sure that rope stays taught which means your dog should have tension on it at all times. This is when you WANT your dog to pull on the leash!
Your dog is going to pull you and your bike. Remember, go through all of this training slowly because you don't want to scare, hurt, or sour your dog on the first few runs. If your dog loves it, he will not want to stop, so you will need to keep these training sessions short!
Often, it is best to do the initial training with another person who can help keep everything (the dog, rope, and bike) organized. A second person can have a bag of treats handy to help calm, reward, and train your dog to be comfortable with this.
After your dog gets comfortable with the gear and bike, a second person can ride her bike ahead of you and your dog, helping to encourage your dog to pullby having him chase the bike ahead of him.
Keep the distances short, 50-100 yards at a time. Stop, reward, take a break. Repeat about 4 times each day for several days.
Footing Footing is the name for the surface your dog will exercise on. Footing can vary dramatically, from sand, to pavement, to gravel, to dirt roads and trails (ideal). Each of these dog exercise surfaces can be harmful to a dogs foot/pad if you fail to pay attention. Just be sure to check your dogs pads during training, especially on a new surface
Dog Booties There are several types on the market today. Recently I saw a set that resembled human tennis shoes. While the concept is thoughtful, they hinder the dogs natural paw movement so they might not be as helpful as they sound. If you think a particular bootie will protect your dog's foot by all means try it!Find out more about dog booties here.
Nails Long nails probably cause more injuries than footing. Long nails hinder the natural movement of the foot. When you are asking your dog to do work (like pulling in a harness) they need their foot to move properly. This is similar to humans and good fitting shoes. If you have ever spent time in uncomfortable shoes you'll know what your dog is feeling.
Work Asking your dog to pull you is different on his body than asking your dog to run around with his buddies. So 20 minutes of pulling you on the bike is hard work for your dog. It is similar to training for a sport, go slow, and give many breaks.
Endurance Endurance work is what you are doing when you bike with your dog. Endurance is built by slowly adding a mile each week (have I drilled the go slowly into your head enough yet...)
Training Your Dog To Pull Dogs like to pull. In fact, that is what makes leash training so difficult for people...the number one complaint is that a dog is pulling! To a husky, pulling is the most natural way to bond with a human, but your dog might not know what to do with that harness at first. Especially if they don't have another experienced dog around to show them what to do. You will need to show your dog what it means to pull Click Here for mushing training.
Children and Bikejoring I don't recommend letting children bikejor unsupervised. Huskies are really strong! It can be difficult for an adult to stop a dog from pulling so imagine what it would be like for a child. Bikejoring takes some skill, and both your child and your dog can get hurt if you are not careful.
Collars No matter how strong or thick headed your dog is, don't let him pull you by his collar. He needs a harness. He can really hurt his neck and spine by pulling you and your bike via his collar. This is a proper pulling harness.
Helmet Wear a helmet! You can get hurt bikejoring. It is not about if you are going to fall, it is when! Even if you are in the middle of a secluded trail. I have had moose, roots, ropes, and potholes sneak up on me. There are many obstacles that can get in your way while bikejoring.
Watch The Rope One of your biggest challenges will be making sure the rope that is attached to your dog stays taught! When there is slack, it can wrap in your tire, and flip you, your dog, or both of you.
Keeping that rope tight is all part of the training. In fact, that is the dog training part of bikejoring. There is an art to this. You are looking for signs that your dog is excited to pull, and you move as your dog moves.Teaching your dog to pull is all about positive reinforcement. Pulling is something that you have to nurture in a dog. Actually, that is the lifeblood of mushing dogs...the love of pulling. Foster that spirit!
Braking Be careful when braking. Your bike is now attached to a live being in a harness. If you brake too hard or fast, your dog will be effected and ultimately might not want to pull. It is the equivelent of jerking on a choke collar. You will need to brake, of course, so make it smooth.
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