Are you ready for another exciting sport you can do with your dog? If you are up for a challenge, you may want to look into what is dog bikejoring? It is a fast-paced sport that can either be done competitively or just for fun. This article will go more in-depth and explain dog bikejoring and what all is involved with this sport?
How does Bikejoring work?
This is a team sport consisting of one bike rider and 1 or more dogs. The dogs run out in front of the rider and pull at times. The trails consist of a variety of terrain but are mostly dirt and relatively free from dangerous obstacles. The trails are mostly flat, but this could vary depending upon who is planning it.
These races mostly take place one rider at a time so all the riders and dogs are free from entanglement with each other.
What Dog Breeds are Best for Bikejoring?
Dogs that love to run and have a lot of endurance are good for this sport. Some of the working dog group breeds are great for bikejoring. Dogs bred to pull things are great as this gets them to stay out in front where they need to be.
Dogs that love running and have a lot of endurance may not have the desire to stay out in front of the rider. These dogs can be trained to want to stay in front so don’t give up too easily!
What Training Is Needed for the Dogs?
You will need to be able to communicate to your dogs what is needed and when. Initially, your dog will at least need to know the commands for communicating what direction you want them to go in such as “left”, “right”, and “ahead’. Your commands will need to encourage the dogs to keep running and when you want them to speed up.
Dog Bikejoring is based on the sport of mushing, which is where a team of huskies or husky-type dogs pull a sled through the snow. In dog bikejoring, 1 or more dogs connected to a bike by an elastic line run ahead of a bike rider on a mountain bike along a trail. The bike rider pedals and the dogs must stay ahead of the rider. The dogs may pull for short periods of time but the majority of the time the dogs are just running while remaining ahead. dogs wear harnesses that are designed to allow them freedom of motion as well as allow them to breathe easily while pulling the rider.
Bikejoring can be done just for a fun activity to do with your dog, or as part of a competition.
What dogs can be Involved in Bikejoring?
Puppies under 9 months and dogs that are 10 years or older, should not be participating in dog bikejoring. Also, dogs that are injured or disabled should not be on a bikejoring team. Always get your dog examined by a veterinarian before having her participate in bikejoring to ensure that she is healthy enough for this very intense sport.
The best dogs for bikejoring are medium and large dogs that love running and have great endurance. Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are excellent dogs for bikejoring. However, they are not great at tolerating heat, so if the weather is at least cool, even cold, these dogs will be great.
Cattle dogs such as the Australian Cattle Dog and the Stumpy Tail Cattle dog make great bikejoring dogs also. They can maintain speeds quite high and are bred to herd cattle over rough terrain. They can also tolerate extreme temperatures well, from hot to cold. Just be sure to train them in the climate and terrain they will be racing in, and they will not disappoint you! Of course, if you are not competing, then there shouldn’t be any disappointment involved at any time, only fun!
How do I Train my Dog for Bikejoring?
The first step in training your dog for any sport is to Obedience train her so she knows to obey your commands. Your dog will definitely need to obey your commands to even start riding with her on a bike.
Your dog will have to be good enough at obedience that she obeys your commands off-leash. You will not have a leash when bikejoring so your and your dog’s safety depends upon your dog’s ability to follow your commands and not run after prey, or suddenly stop.
Your dog must master verbal cues for some essential commands before she will be ready for bikejoring.
- Speed Up
- Leave it
You should start training your dog to follow these commands before the bikejoring equipment is even introduced. Take time with your training and don’t rush it. Be patient and consistent with training and your dog will eventually show tremendous improvement.
Always praise her and train her with positive reinforcement so she will continue to enjoy the experience. Puppies under 9 months are not able to participate with the bike however you can start training them with commands at about 6 months. Whatever age they are when you begin training you need to take whatever amount of time is necessary for them to have complete understanding and instant response to your commands.
Train your dog in the same type of environment in which you will be bikejoring—on dirt trails. This will be much safer and more enjoyable for you and your dog. Also, it can be hard on your dog’s feet to run on concrete so a dirt trail will be much safer.
Also, the distractions on a forest trail will be much different than on an urban or suburban street. Your dog must learn to ignore these distractions which will include squirrels, rabbits, and an occasional loose dog.
Line Out Training
To teach your dog Line out, get your dog to stand still. Put a treat out about six feet in front of you. Then, with the bungee line attached, start walking backward slowly until the line is straight and you are near the treat. Then give your dog the “Go” command and your dog should run to you and the treat.
A more advanced way of training the line out is to put your dog in a sit-stay position. Walk forward about six feet and place a treat on the ground. Walk back to your dog and give your release command and she should run to the treat. Praise her generously when she reaches the treat.
After your dog has been praised and had her treat, collect the line and move forward to your dog. Don’t pull the dog back to you as the main purpose of the line out is the forward movement.
Gradually have your dog wait longer periods of time at the end of the line before moving forward.
It is very important that your dog truly understands line out to keep the line tight during rides so it doesn’t get tangled with the bike wheels.
What Equipment is Needed
To keep you and your dog safe when bikejoring you will need to invest in some bikejoring equipment and accessories.
You will need a sturdy mountain bike with good brakes. It’s a good idea to take your bike to a bike shop and have it adjusted and tested to ensure everything is in good working order.
You should invest in a special bikejoring harness for your dog. These harnesses are made to not interfere with your dog’s motion and ability to breathe while running at high speeds. Take your dog with you when you purchase the harness as it is very important that the harness fits exactly right. Never use a collar instead of a harness for bikejoring as this is dangerous for your dog as it could harm her.
You will also need an 8 to 10-foot elastic bungee line to attach to your dog’s harness and to the “antenna”.
The antenna is a piece of equipment that is attached to the front of your bike. The purpose of the antenna is to prevent the line from getting tangled in your bike’s front wheel.
The dog or dogs will need well-fitting harnesses to distribute the stress equally across their bodies. The best harness would be one specifically designed for bikejoring or mushing.
It is a good idea to invest in some dog booties to protect your dog’s feet and a foldable water bowl to provide your dog with plenty of water. Be sure to bring enough water for you and your dog as you will both require water.
Find More About BikeJoring Near You
Look for a bikejoring organization or club near you to get involved in this exciting and fun sport. These clubs have members that are experienced in bikejoring and can help you with training and more information.
If you have no club or organization near you find out more from the United States Federation of Sleddog Sports.
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Bikejoring with dogs! It is a great sport whether you choose to do it competitively or for fun! Just remember to get your dog examined by a veterinarian before venturing too far into this very active sport.
Another great active sport for you and your dog that even uses some of the same commands as bikejoring is canicross.
Please feel free to add your comments or talk about your experiences with dog bikejoring.