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Biking your Dog

Author: Sally Bushwaller | Date: May 18, 2012

It’s difficult for me to walk my Weimaraners enough to tire them out. My Weims are high energy, 8 year old girls. Calm walks, while great for teaching polite walking, just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to burning off energy.

So, a lot of the time, I bike my dogs.

One of my dogs goes between 3-5 miles per ride and the other is content with 1.5 miles. I do this with them about 3-4 times a week. It’s a great way to give your dog a lot of aerobic exercise in a short amount of time.

A dog’s natural pace is a brisk trot. So biking is perfect. I keep my pace around 4-6 miles per hour with occasional short bursts of speed up to 8-9 miles per hour. If you work out yourself, you’ll see this described as interval training. It’s a great way to get maximum benefit out of your work out. The same concept applies to dogs, however I don’t specifically do interval training for the dogs. Rather, I let the dogs choose their own pace. I allow them to stop occasionally at their favorite trees (not at every tree!) to leave pee mail, and occasionally, they decide they need to run full out and we do!

Biking dogs is easy to do. Many people are worried about their dog pulling them over on the bike. But I have found that once you are moving at a good clip, the dogs just move with you and are less likely to be distracted by things in the environment. There are attachments you can get for your bike to which the dog is attached. Walky Dog seems to be the most popular and reasonably priced attachment. This link, answers a lot of questions people have about biking with their dogs (FYI: I have no association with the Walky Dog company).

If you are trying biking dogs for the first time, once you get your gear, go to a big empty parking lot with your dog and bike to practice. This will give you a chance to get the hang of it without a lot of distractions.

Safeguards

  • One of the big reasons I bike is because I have some issues with my knees. Even when the weather is quite warm, I still bike the girls. I just ride very slowly and don’t go as far. It’s important to always keep the temperature in mind. You don’t want your dog getting heat stroke. The most obvious symptoms of heat stroke are heavy panting and difficulty breathing. The tongue and mucous membranes appear bright cherry red. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that must be addressed immediately by cooling down your dog’s temperature.
  • My personal experience is to NOT bike a dog if you have toe clips on your pedals. I had several falls many years ago when I lost my balance because of the dog and couldn’t get my feet out of the pedals quickly enough.
  • Be sure to vary your speed and try to position your dog so she is running on grass more than hard surfaces. That will make it easier on her joints over time.
  • Puppies and young dogs should not do any extended, hard repetitive exercise until they are 18 months old, around the time their growth plates close.
  • Before beginning any exercise regimen, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet to make sure your dog is fit for the task.

Enjoy your dog and your neighborhood this summer with bike rides!

 

    1. [...] If you have a more active dog, you can train them to run alongside your bike. It’s a great way for both of you to get exercise. Before starting this routine, make sure your veterinarian checks your dog over for any underlying conditions that could be worsened by strenuous exercise. If your dog is overweight, you should start off with walking, rather than jogging first. Also, puppies and young dogs should not do any extended, hard repetitive exercise until they are at least 18 months old, around the time their growth plates close. My colleague Sally Bushwaller offers lots of great tips on how to make this biking partnership work in her blog on biking with your dog. [...]

    2. [...] If you have a more active dog, you can train them to run alongside your bike. It’s a great way for both of you to get exercise. Before starting this routine, make sure your veterinarian checks your dog over for any underlying conditions that could be worsened by strenuous exercise. If your dog is overweight, you should start off with walking, rather than jogging first. Also, puppies and young dogs should not do any extended, hard repetitive exercise until they are at least 18 months old, around the time their growth plates close. My colleague Sally Bushwaller offers lots of great tips on how to make this biking partnership work in her blog on biking with your dog. [...]


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