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Should I bike with my dog?

Yesterday was the first bike ride of the season for my mutt and I (finally). We picked right up as though we hadn’t missed a day. I went slowly of course, barely above our running pace so Ace didn’t have to break into a run. When we got to a park I let him off leash and allowed him to sprint after me if he wanted. He took on my challenge and raced across the field remaining at my side no matter how fast I peddled. I should’ve checked our speed, but I forgot.

I love the days when my mutt slowly walks a step or two behind me. Ever since we have been walking, running and now biking more, my dog’s leash manners have improved. He even heels better than he did when he was on a high dose of prednisone! I made a point today to leave all training collars at home. Ace doesn’t really need them in the neighborhood anymore.

If you are considering biking with your dog, it is worth putting in some training time first. Don’t even think about biking with your dog if he can’t heel at your side while you are walking. Work on controlling your dog in all situations like when other dogs run up to you or when Rollerbladers go by. If you need some pointers, here are some tips for biking with your dog and teaching your dog to heel.

What’s dangerous about biking with my dog?

Hands free bike leash for dog to run next to bikeAs long as I have total control over my dog, I am not putting myself or others in danger while biking in a suburban area. There are lots of other walkers, dogs, cars and bikers out and about, and I can’t have a dog that gets excited over every little thing. If so, he could pull me right into traffic or cause me to crash or run into someone.

Ace and I always remain out of the way. If there are cars on the road, we stay on the sidewalk. If there are people on the sidewalk, we move onto the road. If there are people and cars everywhere, we move with the flow.

I make sure to keep my mutt at my side when we bike. I would never let him run in front. Instead, I’ve taught him to have respect for the bike. He watches my body language and listens to commands when I’m on the bike just as he would while we are walking. A hands free bike leash helps with this concept.

When Ace and I approach an intersection I say, “slow” as I slow down. When I have to stop, I tell him “wait” and he stands and waits. This week I am trying to teach him to sit whenever the bike stops. As we approach turns, I tell him “turn left” or “turn right.” I doubt he knows the difference, but he does know we are switching directions. He pays attention so we don’t collide.

Know how to respond to ‘bad’ dogs in the neighborhood

Sometimes it’s better to jump off my bike and walk when I see “hazards” like loose dogs or a dog on a Flexi leash. If your dog gets excited over cats or rabbits, then be on the lookout for small animals. Don’t hesitate to walk when you see them.

There are certain dogs in the neighborhood that lunge and bark when Ace and I are just walking. But when I bike, even the normally quiet dogs might get agitated. A lot of dogs get excited or even aggressive when they see bikers in general. So when they see a person, a dog and a bike, they go completely bonkers.

One man walking some sort of Afghan-looking breed could hardly control his dog as it barked and pulled at Ace and I yesterday. The best thing I could do was make sure I had control over my own dog.

Sometimes it’s best to go a different direction and avoid certain encounters. But other times it’s impossible to avoid problem dogs, like when a pug on a Flexi leash comes around the corner out of nowhere. Usually it’s easiest to ignore an aggressive dog and continue on our way, but sometimes the faster we move, the more the dog wants to chase us.

When Ace and I are out running, we never run from aggressive dogs. Instead, I slow down and casually continue on my way showing that I am neither scared or up for a challenge. Running only encourages chasing, aggression and prey drive. So when Ace and I are out biking, I have to keep this in mind when we encounter unpredictable dogs.

Since the Afghan was leashed, we didn’t slow down. Thinking back, slowing down or walking by this dog might’ve been the better choice. Our speed caused the dog to lunge and act more aggressively. Had this dog gotten away from its owner, it would’ve easily caught up to us.

Later a pointer ran into the sidewalk, barking and beginning to chase. Since this dog was unleashed and unsupervised, I stopped and let the dogs sniff each other for about two seconds. I knew the pointer was being territorial and not a threat – we’ve passed this dog many times. Ace and I slowly moved on.

If you’re going to bike with your dog, be prepared for all situations and know how you will respond. I prefer to bike in quieter parks and roads whenever I can. A bike leash for dogs helps if you want to keep both hands free.

Walk your dog 101 miles (day 16)

pit-bull-terrierAce accompanied me on a run with one of 4 Luv of Dog’s rescue dogs yesterday. We ran with Lucky, an American pit bull terrier up for adoption. The dogs got along great. The photo of Lucky is from 4LuvofDog.com. 5/7/10 update: Lucky has been adopted!

Anyone looking for a dog-friendly pitbull should definitely go and meet Lucky at Saturday’s adoption days from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. over at the West Fargo PetSmart. Lucky is a great dog. He ran just fine on the leash and didn’t even pull or bark when we passed kids, school buses and bikers. What a good boy!

After almost 7 miles yesterday, Ace and I walked an easy 1.99 miles today. The month is half over and we broke 50 miles, so we are right on track to reach 101 miles.

April miles: 50.68

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