22 May 2011

Cycling With Dogs

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Cycling with dogs can be a fantastic way to give your dog a good run and really tire him out. But, you need to make sure you don’t over do it and injure him. There is a lot of controversy over cycling with dogs, but if you do it right then you have nothing to worry about. Victoria Stillwell has even used cycling for dogs on her programme to calm a dog down who had a bit too much energy.

So, the first question is, can my dog run alongside a bike? I cycle with a 2 year old German Shepherd, he has a lot of energy and is a working dog, he is built to do the running. But, even with him, I would not cycle with him before he was 18 months old so as not to do any damage while he was growing. Even after that time, I am careful. Smaller breeds and breeds without as much energy are clearly not as able to run alongside a bike as breeds such as Border Collies and German Shepherds. If you are worried, ask you vet.

When cycling, I take lots of water with me, they need it. And I stop every 30 minutes to allow my dog to have a drink and go to the toilet if he needs to. I also stop every hour for a bit longer, to allow him a well-deserved lie down. I do not go to fast, I cycle at a speed that he is running, but not sprinting, to get this speed, cycle with your dog and find a speed he is comfortable with. I only do this a maximum of once a week.

To begin with, your dog may not be used to running alongside a bike. I had this issue, my dog tended to run in front of the bike. So, I started cycling with him on a lead next to me, just going slowly, when he tried to cross over, I said no, and praised him when he was next to me. He soon figured it out and we were able to go faster on the lead and then eventually with no lead.

There are some products you can buy that attach to the back of your bike. This enables you to cycle with the dog on the lead without you having to hold the lead yourself. With regards to safety, this is a very good idea. I am very lucky, I have had no problems with Bo cycling off the lead so I have had no use for these products. But, if your dog will not cycle next to the bike, or has bad recall, or you are simply cycling in a place where you can’t let your dog off the lead, these products may be ideal.

Having never used this, I cannot recommend you this product. However, it is one that I have found to show as an example. Please look around to find the best one for you.

http://www.k9active.co.uk/epages/es114990.sf/?ObjectPath=/Shops/es114990_es122303850613/Products/B41B01000WDA&ViewAction=ViewProductViaPortal&Locale=en_GB

I never cycle on the road with my dog. I have always thought it dangerous to have a dog next to a bike, especially on busy roads or windy lanes. I always ride on a bike track, in the woods, this is also ideal as it is easier on their pads.

The most important things to remember are, don’t go too fast, carry water, breaks are needed and consult your vet before starting to make sure your dog is up to the challenge.

If you have done all of these, happy cycling with your dog. I recommend this as an enjoyable exercise for both you and your dog, an exercise, which will tire him out completely!  I have found that now when I get the bike out to go for a ride with Bo, he gets far more excited than when we go for a walk, a sure sign that he is enjoying it too.

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