When I go out on my mountain bike with 3 large dogs attached to me I tend to get some looks that easily say, “You must be crazy!” And I know I am…a little. But I have also refined the art of exercising my dogs with a bike after a couple falls, much frustration, and lots of practice. I know there are many dogs out there who don’t get nearly enough exercise (their owners as well), so I want to share my story and tips to inspire others to remember their furry friends need a workout too.
My dog exercise journey began with inspiration from The Dog Whisperer, who teaches that consistent exercise improves unwanted behavior in dogs. I started with daily walks, and then moved to a level where I could get a workout too. I now do my best through rain or shine to fit in our rides despite life with 3 small kids and all the busy they bring. It’s also fabulous to have a wonderful husband who helps with everything as well. J
The dogs have gotten the hang of the routine mostly because of our set up.
- Attach the leashes to a belt. My husband had the brilliant idea to attach the leashes to a belt after I took a spill when a bunny crossed my path. Having the leashes in your hands on the handle bars when an irresistible varmint like a bunny or squirrel shows up makes for a quick trip to the dirt. Having them attached to my waist gives me more leverage (ghetto booty benefit) to counter any sharp pulls.
- Slip Collars or Choke Collars with a short leash. I use the prong collars on our two rambunctious boys and a simple slip chain for the more reserved and well-behaved husky mix. The prong collars look a bit wicked but are very effective in shortening the learning curve for the strong dog. I like to limit the leash length so that the dogs cannot cross in front or behind my bike too easily. Three dogs on one side tend to cancel out my booty leverage.
- Safety Gear & Common Sense. Helmet and gloves are key in my opinion. I would recommend really gearing up if you are not especially comfortable on a bike. Begin to practice on short rides with one dog and limited distraction when possible.
I have learned a great deal about my dogs by taking them out with the bike. I can tell if they are feeling healthy by how well they keep up, I have learned that direct afternoon sun is like Kryptonite for them, and I can tell if they need a potty stop if they are dragging behind. The most interesting tidbit I never knew is that the sled dog breeds do their “business” while on the run. No really! I hardly know it’s happening, which is embarrassing if I am on a sidewalk and the “little nuggets” get left in the way (TMI I’m sure). But my dogs LOVE their rides; the “smiles” on their faces when we get back are priceless.
This is a great way to prevent dogs from excessive barking and destructive behavior. I also get comments from veterinarians and pet hotel staff on how they can’t believe how groomed the nails are on the dogs. So go out and give it a whirl! Your dog(s) will thank you.