Written by Leanne Wren with VNTRbirds
Sponsored by Animal Lovers in Breckenridge, CO
Need an activity to wear out your high energy pup? Mountain Biking could become their new favorite! With training & practice you can ride the “brown pow” with your best friend. In my case, my best friend is my 7 year-old Black Lab mix, Stout. He learned how to mountain bike right along with me, and he’s been chasing me on my bike ever since! Here are tips for having a blast on a mountain bike with your dog in tow.
Practice makes perfect.
First, practice voice control commands on trail while on a hike. You want to have this perfected since riding bikes can take you further into nature than your typical dog walk. You might encounter wild animals, natural and man-made obstacles (cactus, swift water, barbed wire, etc.) or other people & dogs on the trail. Next, introduce your dog to your bike. I rode my bike around the cul de sac on my street so Stout could learn how a bike works, not to get in front of the bike when it’s rolling, along with simple commands. When the bike would stop I would make him stop, sit & wait. This is harder than it sounds when your dog is SUPER excited and ready to play. Once he understood staying away from my front tire I started taking him for small rides on a local trail that does not see much bike traffic. We would ride and he would follow. When we saw upcoming hikers or bikers I would get his attention and tell him “OFF TRAIL” then would point out what side of the trail I wanted him to stop, sit & wait. This, too, is harder than it sounds. We practiced this a lot before he was ready to join me on more heavily trafficked trails. I recommend making this practice time short and simple. Teach your dog one task, perfect it then move on to the next. Don’t expect them to learn everything on the first try. It takes time, but with patience, you too may have an awesome adventure dog!
Make sure your dog stays hydrated.
I like taking Stout on rides that have water nearby. There are plenty that follow a river/stream or lead to a lake so he can jump in for a swim. In late summer/fall it might be harder to find water so I carry extra water for him (lucky guy). I also taught him how to drink out of my hydration hose but if your dog doesn’t like that you’ll need to carry a lightweight doggie bowl for them too.
Have a plan and be prepared!
Make sure that YOU and YOUR DOG are prepared for your adventure.
- Look at the weather forecast- will you and your dog be able to stay comfortable with the temperature that day?
- Follow the rules – Are dogs allowed to be off leash on the trail you want to ride? You can typically find this information on the MTB project app when you click on a trail and scroll to the bottom of the trail description & highlights.
- Map your route – Make sure your dog is able to handle the vertical & distance planned for the day. Start small and work your way up.
- Pack for your day – You have to pack for yourself and your pup!
DOGGIE PACKING LIST
- Water & snacks – Pack a water bowl & extra water for your dog. Remember high energy snacks for yourself AND your pup – they are burning energy just like you (probably more!)
- Doggie & human first aid/emergency kit – For dogs: Vetrap, liquid bandage for dogs, paw soother, LED Collar Light, emergency blanket, tarp.
- Poop bags – PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE USED BAGS ON THE TRAIL. I use biodegradable bags and I have a plastic container I can throw it in if there isn’t trash nearby and I don’t want to smell dog poop in my pack.
- Leash – Stout is off leash while we’re riding but I like to keep one on me in a quick access pocket in case there is a road crossing or a circumstance pops up where one is needed.
- Insulated Jacket – In the fall I like to pack a jacket for him for the colder temps.
THE BEST PART! Go ride with your dog!
Finally! You and your dog can enjoy the trails safely and confidently together.
Listen/watch your dog.
Although your dog can’t tell you they are too hot, thirsty or tired, look out for signs like slowing pace, rapid breathing or excessive panting .
Know when to leave your dog at home.
Too hot? High mileage? Big group of people? These might be good days to enjoy your bike on your own. Make sure not to totally burn out your legs; your dog will be waiting at home for that mini-ride or walk when you get back.
Ruffwear – Bivy Bowl – Waterproof bowl $25
Ruffwear – Highlands Pad – Portable Bed – $60
Ruffwear – Crag Reflective Dog Leash – $34
Smart Cookie Barkery – Functional Dog Treats – Endurance – $10
Earth rated poop bags – $3.00
After a big bike ride make sure you BOTH get some rest!
Suzie’s CBD Salve – $20 (I rub this into his pads of his feet.)
Earth Buddy – Hemp Extract 250mg – $31.50
All this and MORE available at our local pet shop in Breckenridge, CO — www.animalloversbreck.com