Dogs love to be active and play outside–preferably with you. Pet owners who are looking for a new and exciting way to exercise their dog while still getting exercise themselves should look into the thrilling sport of Bikejoring. This article will offer an in-depth look into Bikejoring and all of its facets.
What is Bikejoring? A beloved dog sport, Bikejoring is similar to traditional mushing on a sled except it’s with a bike. A single dog or a team of dogs are leashed to a bike. They then pull the bike and its rider down a path. Bikejoring can be done competitively or leisurely.
Your dog needs exercise. Why not exercise with them through Bikejoring? Read on to find out how to get started with Bikejoring as well as if your dog is the right breed for the thrilling dog sport.
Bikejoring Background and History
While the exact date of the origins for Bikejoring isn’t known, it is a sport that developed out of traditional sled dog mushing. Bikejoring is performed on dry-land. It involves a dog or two being harnessed to a bike. This bike is then ridden by either their owner, trainer, or someone hired to run the dogs on the trail. There are two different ways to have the dog pull the bike. Most choose to have the dog harnessed to the front of the bike. However, some prefer to have their dogs run alongside the bike and have special equipment attached to the bike in order to do so (more on that below).
While sled mushing is the grandfather of all mushing sports, it’s likely that Bikejoring came out of skijoring, another popular dog sport. The sport typically takes place on trails that weave through the forest and mountains. Because of the rough terrain, mountain bikes are the suggested type of bike for Bikejoring.
There are many competitions throughout the year and across the country for Bikejoring. Even internationally, there are several competitions to take part in if you’re feeling like your team is ready for a true challenge overseas.
Types of Races
There are two different races that you might take part in during a Bikejoring competition. The first is a direct race. Everyone is lined up at the start and then released at the same time. Dogs and their riders have to navigate along the trail. Whoever reaches the finish line first is the winner. With a location where harness lines might become crossed, a timed race is performed instead. During this race, a team is released one-at-a-time. They have to complete the trail as quickly as possible. The team with the shortest time is proclaimed the winner.
Getting Started With Bikejoring
If you’re thinking about getting your dog some real exercise and joining in with them, then you need to know a few things before you sign up for your first race. Dogs need to be trained. Otherwise, they’re going to be leading you everywhere but the trail. They also need to be trained to behave well with other dogs. The last thing you need is for your dog to immediately pull you to another rider because they want to play with the other dog.
The first aspect that you need to consider is your dog. Do they enjoy running? If so, then they’re a good match for Bikejoring. The second is their fitness level. If your dog hasn’t been exercised properly in a while, then they likely need to work out a bit in order to be at the fitness level that you need them.
Training begins with walking. If your dog tends to weave from side-to-side while walking, then they’ll likely do the same when they’re running. Except you’ll be attached to them, too. As such, you should first teach them how to walk in a fashion that you desire. Keep them in a single line and make them familiar with voice commands.
Once they have started adhering to your commands and are walking the right way, you can amp up their fitness. They need to become used to wearing a harness and pulling a weight. You might want to try canicross training with them initially. This involves attaching the dog to yourself. It offers a smaller weight and gets them used to towing something–or someone–around. If you want to increase their strength, then have them perform weight pulling. Attach your dog to a weight and have them pull it to a designated area.
There are a few necessary commands that your dog needs to know in order to be prepared for Bikejoring. The most important is Stop. Other important ones to teach them are Slow, Leave It, Gee (the general command for right), Haw (the general command for left), Straight, Hike or Mush (to begin), Yield, and On By (to pass around an object).
Besides commands and training, having the right equipment is just as important to get started with Bikejoring.
The Bikejoring Setup – What Equipment Is Needed?
Your first piece of equipment should be a mountain bike. It needs to be sturdy and able to take a few impacts. With the bike, you should get a helmet and a pair of goggles for your safety. Helmets should always be worn when on the bike. Goggles should be impact resistant because you’re likely to have a lot of gravel thrown back at your face and body.
Gloves are a good idea to have as well. On your bike, you should have mirrors attached, so you can see what’s going on behind you. Side bags are one final thing that you should include on your bike. This allows you to hold gear and emergency equipment.
Inside those bags, you should have lots of water for both yourself and your dogs. A first aid kit should be included with your dogs in mind. Your bike may also need repairs, so it’s a good idea to bring spare equipment to fix it up in an emergency.
You’ll also need a gangline which attaches the dogs to the bike. If you have more than one dog, then you’re going to need a neckline. This is the line which keeps the dogs together. Harnesses are another crucial bit of equipment for your dog. You should take them in to get fitted so the harness fits them perfectly. Booties are another protective gear that your dog can benefit from when traveling across harsh terrain.
Bikejoring Gear Checklist
- Mountain Bike
- Bike Side or Saddle Bags
- Helmet, Goggles, Gloves
- Bike Mirrors
- Gangline (attaches the dog to the bike)
- Neckline (if more than 1 dog)
- Dog Harness
- Protective Dog Booties (optional)
Best Bikejoring Dog Breeds
Are you wondering if your dog can cut it? There are no restrictions on what breeds can take part in Bikejoring competitions. However, some dog breeds are better suited for mushing sports than others. One of the most popular dog breeds for mushing sports is the Husky. These dogs are familiar with mushing, work well together, and are clever and easy to train. They’re also quite strong, love to run, and are capable of great feats of stamina.
Another popular choice of dog breed for Bikejoring are Pit Bulls. These dogs are also quite strong and take to training quite well. You’ll want to make sure that they are comfortable around other dogs and humans.
Similar to the Husky is the Alaskan Malamute. These dogs are strong, smart, and have been used before in mushing sports.
Finally, the Samoyed is another excellent choice for Bikejoring. They are tough dogs who love to run.
What other mushing dog sports are there?
If you want more mushing action, then you should look into other dog sports like skijoring, traditional sled mushing, weight pulling, canicross, and dog scootering. Each features a leashed dog to either a scooter, bike, person, or weight that they then have to pull across a distance.
What is Dog Agility?
Another popular way to give your dog exercise and to test their intelligence is dog agility. This term covers a sport that utilizes obstacles. The owner or trainer has to lead the dog through the obstacles in a set amount of time. It tests the dog’s quick reflexes and speed by challenging their agility.