Thursday, May 26, 2011

Teach your dog to walk alongside your bike

Have you ever been exhausted from work only to come home to a dog that’s full of energy or a dog that has destroyed your house?  Your dog has been doing little, if anything, all day and that pent up energy usually gets released in a negative way.  Dogs that don’t get regular or adequate exercise can become destructive, anxious, ill-mannered, impertinent, depressed and/or overweight - which can lead to further health issues.  After a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is go for a long walk, especially if your dog is not properly leash trained.  But ensuring your dog gets the proper exercise will not only benefit him, but it will make your life easier as well.
An easy way to make sure your dog gets a lot of exercise, with minimal work on your part, is to teach them to ride alongside your bike.
Step 1: Introduction to the bike
Get your dog comfortable around the bike by walking him next to it as you walk the bike.  This will let him see the bike is not something to fear.  You can give him treats during this exercise or simply praise him while you walk.
It’s important to keep your dog toward the back of the bike, at least next to the seat. He needs to learn to follow the bike and stay to one side of it so he doesn’t cross back and forth in front of the bike.
Step 2: Start with a short walk
Like human hands, the pads on a dog’s feet can blister and tear from physical labor.  If your dog does not go for walks very often you want to start your bike rides off slow and keep them short.  This will give your dog’s feet pads a chance to slowly toughen before long or running bike rides.
This is also the time to start using commands for left and right turning. You can use any command you want, just be consistent.     
If you feel more confident with two hands on the handle bars there are a couple of dog bike leashes on the market.  Check out these videos to find out more about WalkyDog Leash, Bike Tow Leash, and K9 Cruiser.
Step 3: Kick it up a notch
Once your dog is use to walking alongside your bike, you can increase your speed (but only if your dog can handle it).  Your dog doesn’t have to be running to get a good work out, so you may consider topping out with your dog in a nice trot.
Don’t be afraid to change the scenery.  You don’t have to stay on your street or even in your neighborhood.  There are tons of great bike trails and parks to explore with your dog on your day off.  One great bike trail you can enjoy with your dog is the Riverside Santa Ana River trail.  This trail starts at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains and connects several local parks as it follows the river through Riverside.  Two of the parks along this trail are Fairmont Park and Carlson Dog Park, which are great starting and stopping points for your bike trip.  It’s a great way to get the family out of the house and enjoying the outdoors together.  For more information on the Santa Ana River trail, and Riverside’s plans to connect the trails leading to the Pacific Ocean, check out Riverside’s Parks & Recreation webpage.
Step 4: Safety First
Enjoy this new activity with your dog, but always do so with great attention and caution while around cars, pedestrians, and other bikers.  Always do your best to avoid heavy traffic areas anytime you practice riding your bike with your dog.
While bike riding can be great for most dogs it isn’t ideal for all dogs, like dachshunds or senior dogs.  Make sure your dog is physically healthy for an extensive work out like walking alongside a bike.  
Be safe and happy riding!

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