When you got a bikejoring setup for yourself and your dog, and have made sure your dog is healthy, at the right age for pulling and fit for the challenge, you are are ready to start your bikejoring training. So how to teach bikejoring? In this article we have collected tips from professional bikejoring athletes.
Teach bikejoring commands
Before you even get on the bike, you can prepare your dog by learning him/her commands for turning right and left. Directional commands makes it easier for your dog to understand which way to run in a crossing. You can start teaching bikejoring commands already when your dog is a puppy.
In dog bikejoring it is common to use «gee» for right turns and «haw» for left turns. You can use other directional commands if you prefer that, of course. Some also have commands for starting, slowing down and stopping completely.
Introduction to bikejoring equipment
A bike might look or sound strange to a dog that has never seen it before. To prevent your dog getting scared, you should introduce him/her gradually to your bikejoring equipment.
- It’s not just «plug and play». You want to give your dog a positive experience from the start, says multiple World champion in bikejoring, Viktor Sinding-Larsen.
You can start by letting your dog sniff and examine the gear, then pick up your bike and walk slowly. If your dog is fine with that, you can let him/her run free while you are biking before being attached for the first time.
Teach your dog to pull
Some dogs will run in front of your bike pulling naturally. Other dogs need some help to figure out how bikejoring works. When teaching a dog to pull, short training sessions and praise is key.
Bikejoring with two dogs
Bikejoring with two dogs in a team is twice as fun! However, it can be double trouble unless you prepare well. Make sure you master the first steps of bikejoring training with each dog individually before putting them together in a team.
Before you start bikejoring it is important to prepare your dog’s body for activity by doing a warm-up routine.
Find a good trail for bikejoring
Well planned workouts are usually the most successful ones. When looking for a nice trail for biking with your dog, look out for:
- Surface: You are not recommended to do bikejoring on pavements or tarmac roads, as the hard surface puts a lot of stress on your dog’s joints. Rough surfaces can also wear your dog’s paws. Look for soft trails or gravel roads.
- Traffic: It is important to keep your, your dog’s and your surrounding’s safety in mind when bikejoring with dogs. We recommend that you train on trails, and at times of the days that are less busy, as well as avoiding roads with cars.
- Trail difficulty: Sharp corners and hills adds some extra challenges, especially if you pass them in high speed. When being a beginner in bikejoring, sticking to quite flat trails where you have a good overview is recommended.
- Distance: Training sessions should be short and fun! Keep this in mind when planning your route.
- Temperature: On warmer days, choose a shaded trail where your dog can cool down in water along the way to prevent overheating.
Increase distance gradually when bikejoring with your dog. Running and pulling can be tiring if your dog is not used to it. Just imagine if you had to go for a 12 kilometer run without any training in advance! That would not be a good experience.
Adapt the training to your dog and stop before he/she gets tired.
At bikejoring competitions, the maximum distance is 8 kilometers. It is also possible to go longer distances with a slower pace, but always listen to your dog.
If you like the sport and want to participate in bikejoring competitions, you can reach out to a club near you. Many bikejoring clubs offer lessons and trainings where you can prepare for the challenges you will face at a competition, like passing other dogs or running full speed over the finish line.
Read through the bikejoring rules in advance and learn from experienced athletes to give yourself and your dog the best starting point possible.
Participating in a virtual race can be a great way to test dog racing for the first time.