Good preparation and correct equipment is vital to ensure safety while biking with your dog. Together with Viktor and Linn Beate Sinding-Larsen, World champions in bikejoring we made a to-do list.
I an addition to your dog having to have the correct harness and equipment for bikejoring your equipment should also be fitting for this activity.
-Before each trip you should check that your equipment is in good condition. When biking with dogs, there are some additional details to pay attention to. This is important in order to avoid injuries, says Viktor.
Pay special attention to the paws. With the high speed of bikejoring, there is a higher risk of the dogs paws wearing out faster. Therefore, you should always have dog booties when out biking.
The bungee and the attachment points also have a high potential of injury if they break. You should always check if there are any tears or wear on them.
Handlebar: This part of the bike has the biggest potential to injure both you and your dog in case of a fall. Make sure that there are bar ends in handlebar so that it does not impale you or the dog. Viktor also prefers to use a wide bar. It gives better control over the bike and a less aggressive sitting position. The time you might loose over the bigger resistance in a race can be gained back by having better control.
Bike antenna: In bikejoring the dog`s bungee is a potential danger. To avoid the line getting tangling up in the front wheel, use a bike antenna.
Brakes: In dog training the brakes are used a lot. Always check that they are working well. It can be useful to learn how to change brake pads and bleed hydraulic brakes by yourself.
Tire: Use tires with good grip that are not worn. There is only a small advantage when using tires with low rolling resistance. Lightning-fast competition tires are rarely necessary. When cycling with a dog the power is so great, good grip is much more important, both in competition and in training. Also, check the tire pressure. Viktor recommends as little air as possible, without risking punctures or hitting the rim. A large volume tubeless tire with sealant will handle less tire pressure, provide fewer punctures, better grip, better comfort and lower rolling resistance.
Repair kit: Punctures and other accidents happen! Be prepared so you don`t have to roll the bike all the way back home. An extra inner tube, tire lever, pump and a small multitool are always good to have.
Helmet: Should always be worn when biking both with and without a dog!
Glasses: Protect the eyes from small stones and other objects that are “kicked up by the dog”
Long gloves: To protect your hands you should use gloves
Knee and elbow pads: Strongly advised if you are an unexperienced biker
Good preparations do not only make the training more effective, but also safer.
Try to train when there are not so many people. It will make the training easier for both you and your dog.
Plan the route, so you can have breaks to drink and can adjust your training to the trail. You can avoid having the first breaks on a downhill as it can be harder to start - especially if you’re training together with someone else or with two dogs!
-Another advantage of knowing the trail is that you know what challenges are coming, such as a steep hill, sharp turns or places where you can often meet others. The better prepared you are, the smaller the chances are for an accident to happen.
Cycling is hard on the body, therefore it is important to warm up the dog as well. It will help you avoid injuries. Cooling down after the training is just as important.
You can read more about how to warm up and cool down a dog here.
Many dogs are very eager to start, jumping and pulling the line. They can be very powerful, and it can cause injuries for both you and your dog. Therefore it is advised to practice that the dog is as calm as possible before starting out.
-Use time, and don`t start before the dog has calmed down. You can dampen some pulls and nips with your arms until a certain extent, but to avoid is clearly the best. Use good time, be consistent and build in good starting routines.
Adjust the speed to the circumstances. It is important for both you, your dog and the environment you are in. You can never know what is around the next corner, therefore it is important that you have control at all times.
Be a good role model for sleddog sports and show consideration to the ones you are meeting. Pass other people and dogs at a slower speed. Be polite and turn away or wait if you see that for example another dog owner is struggling to get a hold of his dog.
Viktor and Linn Beate are always vigilant with being behind their dogs. The bungee should always be tight. It is the dog that is dictating the speed.
When you are arriving to a turn you should brake before, and not during the turn. Don`t overestimate your own skills. It is not easier to bike with a dog – it is the exact opposite!
When dogs are running and pulling they get warm quickly, therefore it is really important to avoid biking with them when it is warm.
Learn more about training dogs in warm weather so you know the temperature limits, the measures to avoid overheating and first aid.
If you would like to learn about how Viktor is training, you can listen to this podcast episode.