We have a lot of customers ask us what it takes to train their dogs to run with them whilst they ride. As mountain bikers and dog lovers alike, we love sharing our experiences of what we think are effective ways for you to encourage your dog to run whilst you ride. Here are some tips you might like to consider below but most importantly, the best thing you can do is try it out! Come and join us on one of our social and friendly Bark + Ride outs over on our events page!
Most of our advice is common sense however, you may want to consider the following:
- Taking your dog out on the trail for the first time and expecting him to follow or be by your side for the day is not realistic.
- Manage your expectations, know your dog’s energy levels and current exercise regime and slowly build on this.
- Understand the breed of dog. Do your homework on what your dog was built for, not every dog is a trail dog.
- Make sure plenty of water is always provided, try to keep your dog hydrated a few hours before you plan your ride. Never force your dog to take on too much water pre-ride.
- Dogs cannot sweat the way we do, remember to cool him down with a cold trail dog towel or a dip in the river. Try not to overwater your dog straight after your ride, this can lead to water intoxication and vomiting. A small treat or biscuit is ok after a ride, but not a meal. Give your dog a chance to cool off and relax at home before feeding him.
- Monitor your dogs behaviour after and before your planned ride, just like us humans he or she may not be feeling like speeding down a fast and flowy trail today, if he or she gets excited when you take your bike out the garage, you know its good to go but always check them over first of all.
- Check your dog’s paws and joints before and after your ride. Look for ticks, cuts or grass seeds which may have gotten lodged in his/her fur or paws.
- Check for any signs of lameness or limping.
- Lethargy or any signs your dog is not himself could be exhaustion and must be monitored if you are at all concerned about your dog take him to the vets immediately.
- Check the weather – it’s important you not only prepare yourself for adverse weather but your dog too. If you know it’s going to get chilly out there, maybe bring a coat for him, a trail towel and plenty water for hydration if you know it’s going to be warm outside.
- Acknowledge your surroundings, will you be starting in a car park? Next to a busy road? Think about how to keep you both safe in those environments.
- Look at the surface of the trail you are riding – we forget that some surfaces can be like walking on glass for our dogs when they’re running fast on the trail because we don’t feel it. Hard sharp shale rocks and hard packed stones can take their toll on dogs.
- Look for natural xc singletrack, sandy trails or forestry. Remember even in muddy conditions there are still exposed rocks and routes we don’t feel under our tires.
- Be gentle with them, check them over, build up their stamina and give positive reinforcement and you will reap the benefits of having a solid, happy and healthy trail dog.
- Most importantly! – HAVE FUN! – the benefits of being out with your dog on the trail are endless! Not only do they encourage you to increase your physical strength, they manage to increase your mental wellbeing tenfold!