Bikejoring (pronounced baik-jawr-ing) is a sport where one dog or a team of dogs runs in front of a bike, pulling. Dog bikejoring has its origin from mushing, where dogs pulls the musher on a sled. When bikejoring, your dog is connected to the bike with an elastic line. The line is kept away from your front wheel with a bike antenna. Your dog should wear an ergonomic bikejoring harness designed for this purpose, allowing him/her to move and breathe freely even when pulling.
Bikejoring can be done both as a hobby and competitively. If you have seen pictures or videos of bikejoring competitions, you know that high speeds are involved. The fastest dogs in bikejoring can reach speeds up to 50 kilometers an hour! However – keeping a steady pace is more important and better for the dogs than having a high maximum speed according to World champion Viktor Sinding-Larsen. If you are not able to run yourself, but still want your dog to enjoy the pleasure of running, bikejoring is a great activity!
Can my dog do bikejoring?
Both big dogs and small dogs can do bikejoring, as long as they are healthy and fit for the challenge. However, you should always adjust the pace to your dog’s abilities and let him/her decide the speed. Puppies or young dogs should not do bikejoring until their bodies are fully grown.
Bikejoring is usually done with one or two dogs. When bikejoring with two dogs you can use a y-leash, as well as a neck line that will help keep your dogs together.
The best dogs for bikejoring are usually breeds that are born with an instinct to pull like husky, samoyed or alaskan malamute. At elite level the most common breeds are german shorthaired pointers (GSP) and mixed breeds like greysthers or eurohounds. These dogs are fast, strong, and love to run!
Many athletes started biking with their family dogs. Breeds like pitbull, border collie, labrador, galgo, malinois, whippet, german shepherd, rhodesian ridgeback, cocker spaniel, vizla, and golden retriever are all suitable for bikejoring. Biking with dogs is an excellent way of stimulating their need for physical exercise and mental stimulation. It is natural for dogs to be active. Running can help address problems such as separation anxiety, stress, destructive behavior, and boredom. Exercising will also help your dog avoid becoming overweight and improve his/her overall health.
What equipment do I need for bikejoring?
To get started you need a bikejoring harness for your dog, a bike antenna for the mountain bike and a line to connect the two. By using equipment that is developed specifically for dog bikejoring, you and your dog stay safe and can focus on enjoying the ride together.
A bikejoring kit must be solid enough to withstand the extra power your dog provides. Your dog’s bikejoring harness should have an ergonomic design, allowing him/her to move and breathe freely. Homemade diy bikejoring gear is not recommended as it is usually not thoroughly tested.
The best bikejoring bikes are mountain bikes with good tires, brakes and handlebars equipped with bar ends.
For yourself you need a helmet, gloves, and glasses when bikejoring with dogs.
Is bikejoring safe?
Bikejoring with dogs is a fairly safe sport when making safe choices, using proper gear, and listening to your dog. However, bikejoring accidents do happen. A crash can have a big injury potential, so make sure you learn about bikejoring safety before hitting the trails.
How to teach bikejoring
After learning the basics of how bikejoring works it is time to get out and try this fabulous sport!
In most countries there are clubs that can help you get started with bikejoring training. If you do not have the opportunity to join bikejoring lessons there are many resources online, like this interview with multiple World champion Viktor Sinding Larsen about how he trains. You can also seek help on Facebook groups and other forums. The community can also help you find nice bikejoring trails near you.
Before you start bikejoring training, make sure your dog is healthy and old enough to pull. As a preparation for bikejoring you can teach your dog directional commands like «gee» (right) and «haw» (left). Having voice commands makes navigating around turns and in crossing easier. You can also teach your dog commands to start, stop or slow down.
First step when starting with bikejoring is to introduce your dog to the equipment and teach him/her to pull in front of your bike.
At a bikejoring race you will meet many other dogs and owners that are just as excited about the sport as you are. The energy level is much higher than at your own peaceful forest, therefore it is smart to train bikejoring with other dogs before signing up for your first competition. Practicing start line routines, overtaking and crossing the finish line in advance will make the experience even better for both you and your dog.
Make sure you know the bikejoring rules of your particular country and organization before racing. If you are unsure where to find the current rules, ask the organizers for help.
In bikejoring you compete with one dog in age classes depending on the rider’s age. Pacing the dog by driving ahead is forbidden – you should always stay behind him/her. The distance in bikejoring competitions is maximum 8 kilometers.
If your goal is to participate in the World championship in bikejoring you have to qualify within your country and be a part of the national team. Bikejoring is a sport that attracts participants from all over the world in the big championships.
If you want to learn about bikejoring training, you can listen to this podcast episode.