Biking with Seppel
It's been a bit cooler this weekend and I've been able to take the dogs out with the bike and the idea for an entry on biking/safety/how to do it came to mind.
I have a bike attachment for my dogs called the Springer. I use this thing maybe 50% of the time when I bike with the dogs. If you view the above post you'll see that I don't use it with Seppel because he tends to lag behind, I do however use it with Seth.
There are a few other types of bike attachments for dogs:
Walky Dog Bike Leash
Bike Tow Leash
There may be other products out there, but I have the most experience with these three. I have only personally used the springer but have a neighbor who has the walky dog and the bike tow attachments. My neighbor has a dog who loves to run, and she rides with the dog attached only to the bike accessory.
How I Ride:
When I got the springer I made a couple of minor adjustments. The springer comes with two plastic hooks, a nylon piece of rope, and some breakaway plastic bands. The idea behind the plastic breakaway pieces is that the plastic will break if you and your dog go around opposite sides of an obstacle. Well, I ride on the road - my dog is not going to go around a tree or mailbox. I chose to hook one of the plastic snaps this product comes with to the top of the spring on the springer. I then had a slip leash that I cut up and I tied to the plastic clip and then tied the remaining plastic clip to the other end. Here is a picture of the modified clips:
|The Springer on my bike.|
|Seth attached to the springer.|
Here are the Pros with the Springer and probably any bike attachment:
-You can ride hands free.
-Your dog pulls your bike so you don't work as hard.
-The springer takes the stress off of your body if you're used to riding w/ one hand holding your dog.
-With the springer in particular, because the spring portion moves, your dog's head is either at the same level as your front tire, or is actually further out than your tire. If they saw something, they could try to run in front of your bike.
-The springer minimizes the pull, but I can feel a big difference between Seth and Seppel. I think if a dog is determined and in the 60lb range, I do think if you weren't careful a dog could pull you off balance.
-You really cannot ride hands free like the videos show.
My neighbor rides hands free with her dog, the dog is only attached to her bike. However, even though this dog is reactive/high drive she just speeds up when passing other barking dogs. She appears to be in the 30-40lb range, so that wouldn't be a lot of pull anyway.
When I ride the dogs wear a harness, I attach the springer to the harness and attach a leash to the harness that I hold in my left hand. I would never ride without a leash attached to the dogs because it allows me to deliver a correction [if needed], but I can also shorten their slack and control the direction they are pulling with my arm. When there is minimal distraction I can loosen the slack in the leash and ride with two hands once my dogs have settled down. However, most of the time I still ride one handed for control.
Here is a video to show Seth on the springer, and then to show Bella who I just ride with one handed. Other than biting the leash Bella is a really good bike dog, she doesn't get distracted and is easy to handle.
A few commands your dog should know to bike:
"Leave It" - so if you pass another dog, cat, or squirrel you can tell them to leave it alone in hopes that they don't run into your bike, or in front of it.
"Easy" - I tell them this and start breaking before we get to a stop sign because I slow at the signs before crossing. [Sometimes I even stop!]. They know in terms of biking that 'easy' means we are slowing down. Sometimes I will say 'wait' too which is a loose heel command I have more my dogs.
If your dog is easily distracted/might lunge at things/super prey driven I personally would suggest getting a bike attachment, hooking the dog's harness to the attachment, and riding with either a prong collar or choke chain in hand. This way your dog can pull the bike without hurting their neck [they will pull with the attachment] but you can give a correction if necessary so they don't go flying after something.
When you bike ride it is really important that you as a rider are proactive. If you think you are going to pass something that will make your dog go over threshold - like another dog, you need to be vigilant, when you see the dog coming your way - stop riding. Let the dog pass. You can't just be a passenger when riding with your dogs, you really need to watch your surroundings. I had TWO squirrels run in front of us today! TWO, like within 2ft of my bike! Thank goodness Seth is very obedient, I was able to tell him to 'leave it' and we were able to pass without issue. I'm just glad I saw what was happening in time to tell me dog "hey!" before he decided to get wild and try to take chase.
I also highly recommend wearing a helmet. I used to not wear one when biking because they look stupid, but I then realized it would suck if my dog ran into my bike and I suffered head trauma over something so stupid.
I think this covers a lot of the how-to's when riding with your dogs and hopefully gives some more insight on the use of dog attachments!