Some people like to share everything with their dogs. Cyclists are no different. From wicker baskets containing chihuahuas to child-size trailers carrying bigger breeds, there are a lot of ways to bring your dog on a bike ride. But what if your dog doesn’t like being a passenger? What if your dog would rather get the same workout as you? Well, if you are a mountain biker, you may have a bona fide trail dog. A trail dog can be a Jack Russell terrier who can leap over sections of trail in a single bound or an agile husky always staying close to your wheel.
If you’d like to take your dog on your rides, the pooch will have to be trained in trail etiquette. “It’s best if you start them young,” says Mike Stiell, who has been riding with his dog Cedar for roughly two years. It can take a lot of training to ensure your dog will stick by your side through the forest with all the different smells and distractions. You don’t want to go out on a ride just to have your dog run off after a chipmunk. Many owners attach bear bells to their dogs to avoid startling wildlife, and to help locate the canines. There are also electronic GpS devices available for high-tech tracking.
It’s also important to teach your dog to keep from getting in the way of bikes. It’s not only for your sake, but for everyone else trying to enjoy the trail. If you’re not confident in your dog’s trail etiquette, it’s best to keep clear of busy trails. Dogs are not always allowed to cruise along singletrack. Make sure you check your local rules governing off-leash dogs.
Remember to bring extra water. Your trail partner needs almost as much water as you do. Your dog is also wearing a thicker layer than you are. Many dogs simply can’t take extreme heat. On those hot days, help out your friend by postponing your ride until the temperature drops in the evening.
If your nightly walk around the block just isn’t cutting it, maybe it’s time to shake things up and take your dog on a trail ride.