An Introduction to Bikejoring
What is Bikejoring?
Bikejoring is riding a bike with dogs pulling you.
Why should I Bikejor?
Your dog wants to run and pull, you find that every walk you are being dragged around. You have a dog that you can’t let off lead and need a way to allow the dog to properly run and exercise.
Your dog will be healthier if it is allowed to exercise at its pace (which will be much faster than you can run).
Bikejoring is great fun and builds up a trusting bond between you and your dog..
Well exercised dogs are generally calmer, "a tired dog is a good dog". A tired dog is less likely to become bored and destructive.
If you enjoy biking then after your first couple of experiences you will see it’s a great way of having fun with your dogs.
Bikejor in the UK seems to be growing in popularity, with so many people keen to get out and try something new with their dog.
Here are a few notes to get started as a beginner.
Firstly – get yourself along to an event, or group, or chat with someone who has been participating in the sports for a number of years. Speak to somebody who has used the kit, so they can advise you on kit from the perspective of having used it. So make sure you pick the brains of a number of people, to get a variety of opinions, to give yourself the best start in the sport.
Once you have an idea of the basics (the equipment you need, the training you need to do and an idea of where you will be training) you can get started with the voice commands (if you haven’t already) to teach your dog on the ground before you even think about attaching your dog to the bike. The main commands to teach are directions and a stop or steady, to ensure you can safely manoeuvre on your trails. I wrote a few words about beginning training here:
Voice commands – These are a must on the bike. If you can put in good groundwork teaching the voice commands with canicross or even just by using them on walks, then your life will be made much easier when you get on a bike. You will not have the same control on a bike as on the ground, where you can pick up the line to pull your dog the correct way or away from danger. The very basics are ‘left’, ‘right’, ‘straight on’ and ‘steady’. I use ‘gee’ and ‘haw’ for right and left but whatever works for you and your dog is fine. I also use ‘leave’, ‘on by’ and ‘hike on’ or ‘go’ as additional commands but to be honest it is more important to be able to direct your dog and stop your dog than anything else on a bike.
Other training tips can be found on a on the below link.
The bike – Although any old bike will do to begin with, it is worth having something with good brakes and front suspension. You are likely to be encountering lots of bumpy ground and obstacles which you will need to brake for, so the comfort of suspension and safety of good brakes are a requirement.
The harness – Your dog will need a good fitting harness and whilst it has been debated many times what type of harness is best for bikejor, it is my opinion that if your dog is comfortable in the harness and it can still work properly with the higher point of attachment that you get from a bike, then you can use a harness for all the dog sports (canicross, bikejor and dog scootering).
The line – Must have bungee in it and be long enough to ensure your dog is not restricted and too close to your bikes’ front wheel. On the flip side of that, if your dog is likely to stop and sniff, then a longer line will drop more and may result in getting tangled in the front wheel. You need to decide if your dog is likely to stay out front or drop back and choose a length to suit your individual set up.
The attachment – I would recommend an attachment of some description to help prevent the line dropping onto the front wheel if there is any slack in it. There are many types available and I currently stock three of my favourites which I have found to be both popular and practical. http://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/bikejor-scootering/bikejor-attachments.html
The safety equipment – Never go bikejoring without a helmet and gloves on. Even if you are the most competent of bikers and your dog is impeccably behaved, you can’t predict every environmental factor you will encounter therefore it is always better to be prepared for the worst!
A few other things to remember are:
Always be aware of keeping within a suitable environment and temperatures for bikejoring, your dog will potentially be working hard on the bike, so stick to nice grassy trails and tracks for their paws and don’t run your dog in high temperatures or high humidity
Be courteous to anyone you meet whilst out bikejoring, stop your dog and hold them back if you are unsure of their reaction to anything you come across
Wear a helmet and gloves yourself as a bare minimum of safety equipment, you won’t be much good to your dog with an injury!
Once you have done a bit of research and discovered a bit about what the sport involves, got your equipment and trained your voice commands, then the next step is to get out there and start having fun! Hopefully we’ll see you out on the trails at an event sometime soon…
This intro is adapted from blogs written by Emily Thomas, K9 Trail time.
Emily has a vast amount of experience and is always happy to give guidance and support regarding equipment, She is a retailer and has tried and tested most equipment so is perfectly placed to help you get started.