Flying through the forest on two wheels with Fido in tow can be a hoot for both pedaler and pooch. Just be sure to take some basic precautions to avoid pitfalls.
“Get a physical exam to make sure the dog is healthy enough,” says Dr. Dan Mones, veterinarian and owner of Alpine Hospital for Animals in Boulder. Remember, age is important. A dog’s growth plates should be fully formed before strenuous activity (age 1-2, depending on breed).
Larger dogs are best at covering biking distances. Long-snouted breeds like labs, golden retrievers, larger spaniels and pointers are better suited to heavy breathing. Squishy-faced dogs like Boston terriers and bulldogs have narrower airways that preclude exceptional athleticism.
Training is key. “Develop your dog’s impulse control skills so when it’s distracted, the dog can make a different choice rather than chasing,” says Anita Hurley, a training behavior consultant for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. You don’t want your dog mauled by a moose.
Watch paw pads for signs of wear, and work up to long distances. Bring doggy snacks, water, and a leash if required.
4 Commands Every Adventure Dog Should Know
If your furry friend accompanies you on hikes, bike rides, even skiing, your dog may need a bit more training than the typical backyard pooch. Colorado dog trainer Mark Ruark suggests mastering the basics: come, stop, heel and stay. When teaching any command, find what motivates your dog—treats, attention, praise—and use that to reward them in training.
Come and stop
“Come” may seem basic, but have you ever noticed how few dogs are able to consistently and fully obey this command?
“I mark the ‘come’ command by having them touch my hand, and sit every time,” says Ruark. “I also use a ‘stop’ command with my dogs anytime they’re going in a direction I don’t want them to go.”
Variations of heel
Knowing how to “back up,” move “away” or move “in” while on heel allows your dog to stay safe whether you’re snowshoeing, biking or skiing.
“Every year, I hear about dogs getting cut with skis because they got too close to someone,” says Ruark.
“This is important if you want to sit and take a break, someone gets hurt or you want them to wait,” said Ruark. “The dog has to know how to relax, too.”