I got Phebe hooked up to the bike!
Just as suggested, I parked the bike in the living room. Once Phoebe got used to that I moved it right across from her lounge chair. When she stopped staring at it, I took it to the next level. I walked the bike up and down the hallway, holding it next to me. After that, I got on the bike and continued walking up and down the hallway.
I stopped and put on Phoebe’s harness, which left her thinking she was going on a walk. Sorry to trick you Pheebs, but how else would I get you hooked to the bike?
I moved the bike outside the front door, all ready to go. My son walked Phoebe out and hooked up the harness. Phoebe was not scared (tail between her legs and cowering), nor was she excited. I figured it best to just get going. I was on the bike and walked it a down the driveway to give her a feel for following along with the bike. Then I started to peddle very slowly until she got in the groove. Once she looked like she was in to it, I picked up speed and Phoebe was able to trot alongside me. Then she took it upon herself to start running. Now she was in control, because I had to bike faster in order to let her continue at her running pace (she can run pretty darn fast)! At that point it was like who is exercising who?
I realized that letting a dog run beside means you need to increase your ability to remain balanced on a bike when inertia (your dog) pulls you to the side. It kind of feels like when I first learned to ride a bike and was kind of wobbly. It is a learning experience for both you and your dog; they get used to running, you get used to riding a bike with a little weight pulling you to the side.
Then there is the ‘full stop’ – Phoebe stops to poop and I sure feel it on the bike. My only comment here is that if your dog seems to be lagging behind, stop and see what’s up.
First and foremost, understand the needs of your dog’s breed. Some dogs are hard-wired to move slowly, or meant to manage short sprints. Others have, like bull dogs and boxers have trouble getting the bog breaths. Phoebe, being a pit bull, is built for stamina and longer distances. She is a good candidate for bike adventures.
Things You Need:
A harness, a harness, a harness – DO NOT USE A REGULAR COLLAR!!!!
I purchased a Hurrta brand harness, because I liked the fit and the reflective edging. There are many harnesses out there with a variety of price ranges. Expensive does not mean it is better; just get one that fits securely and is intended for “pulling” (gee – I spend all this time teaching Phoebe not pull, and then I buy a pull harness). Oh well. She will now learn there is a time and place for everything.
A bike attachment specifically made for having a dog run alongside a bike. I opted for a “Walky Dog.” I chose this one because it attaches to the bike easily and has springs that allow you to adjust the length and tension depending on the type of dog you have. Just like the harnesses, these attachments come in all shapes and price levels. Things to consider before you make your final choice:
Where will you be riding / running? Some attachments have a great U-shaped attachment, but you will need room for that thing to get past others. Others do not offer much give. So, if your dog pulls, you (and your bike) are pulled right along with it. Just do your research and find one that fits your needs
Paw Cream: You will not need this right away, but it is good to have on hand. Running on asphalt or rocky roads can leave the paws in need of some soothing cream.
Things to Take or Think About When You Head Out:
It is not a race – go at a speed that you dog can keep up with, and that allows you to quickly recover if you need to make a quick stop.
- A regular leash – in case you need to walk away from your bike. The Walky Dog doubles as a short lead, which is another reason why I picked it.
- Poop bags – they can poop on the run
- Water (for you and your dog) – this only comes into play of you go on long rides, or are away from home
- A mini first aid kit (for you and your dog) – It comes in handy on long rides that take you far from home.
- Practice riding your bike. I am a good bike rider, but when I have Phoebe attached, my balance is not so good; if you have trouble riding a bike yourself, don’t try it with your dog.
- Things to do when you get home
- Check the paws to make sure they did not pick up any glass or rocks between the pads
- Make sure they have lots of water available
- If you went on a warm day, make sure they are not overheated
How Far to Run and Misc. Caveats
- Make sure your dog is healthy enough to handle the exercise; if in doubt, ask your vet
- Familiarize yourself with signs of exhaustion or heatstroke
- Do not go for a ride during the hottest part of the day; limit it to mornings and evenings, or do not go at all.
- Slowly build up the distance – would you go from zero to five miles in one day? No. So don’t expect the same from your dog. Be particularly cautious if you have a chubby dog that does not even go for walks. Start super slow – get used to walking before even considering a run.
Avoid riding / running in the rain; your dog’s feet will be slippery and your bike may be slippery as well. Besides, aren’t we supposed to hunker down by the fireplace when it rains?