I’m not a big runner myself(unless you consider the elliptical machine), but if you enjoy getting outdoors for some fresh air and exercise, check out this article from competitor.com on how to get your dog involved, so both of you can get in a good workout and stay healthy…
Can’t say that I’ve ever done a restaurant review before, but as the saying goes, there’s a first for everything. Lucky for us, Orange County has a lot of different dog friendly places to eat, so I’m sure this will be the first of many restaurant reviews you’ll see on here. I’m by no means a food connoisseur, in fact, the main reason I wanted to post this was not to rate the food, but to bring attention to the dog friendly eateries that are scattered throughout the county.
Now that we’ve covered some of the equipment you’ll need to get started, time to get on the bike and go! Not quite. Before you hop on the bike with your dog, you will want to master some basic commands. This way, when you are riding full speed and need your dog to avoid an obstacle, i.e. a pedestrian, you will have some confidence knowing you have verbal control over your dog.
In my experience, there are 4 basic commands you’ll want to teach your dog before you get going: Left, Right Stop, Go. You don’t need to use these exact words as the commands, but pick something that works for you and stick with it. I personally use Left, Right, Stop, and OK. I have also incorporated “slow” and “leave it” which helps me have even more control over her when we need to slow down or when she sees a squirrel. If you are really serious about bikjoring or mushing in the future, and were thinking about doing it competitively, you might want use the traditional commands that most mushers have used for 100’s of years.
The most common commands for a dog team are:
• Hike!: Get moving (“Mush” and “All Right” are sometimes also used).
• Kissing sound: Speed up, faster.
• Gee!: Turn to the right.
• Haw!: Turn to the left.
• Easy!: Slow down.
• Whoa: Stop.
• On By!: Pass another team or other distraction.
Like I said above, the words that you’re using don’t matter much, as long as they’re consistent and they don’t get confused with words that you use on a daily basis, which might confuse them and make the training process take longer.
I am by no means a professional trainer, so take my advice for what it is, a novice Bikejorer that self trained his dog. If you’re thinking of doing this professionally, I recommend getting the book below. It will go into more details than you probably care to know about the sport, and how to train your dog professionally.
So, with that said, here’s how I trained my dog to ride on a bike either pulling or side-by-side.
- Start by using the commands on your daily walks with your dog. Every time you turn a corner, use the corresponding “left” or “right” command. After doing this for about 2 weeks consistently, Sierra, my Husky, was able to start anticipating which way to go before we turned. When she did, I gave her a treat. After another week or two she was consistently turning on command. During that same period, every time we approached a driveway or intersection, I would tell her to “stop” and when we crossed I would say “ok”. These commands took about the same amount of time for her to learn. Within a month of doing this on walks, she had the commands down, no treats needed, which gave me the confidence to start on the bike. If you want to accelerate the process, you can do multiple quick walks a few times a day to speed up the learning process.
- Once you have the commands down while walking with your dog, the next step is to start getting her used to the harness and bike. If your dog hasn’t worn a harness before, I suggest incorporating the harness into her normal walks so she is learning the commands with the harness on. This way, when you get on the bike for the first time, she is comfortable with the harness and commands, it will make the first couple rides a lot smoother. To get your dog used to the harness, like everything with a dog, I recommend starting slow. It’s much easier to take a few days working your dog up to liking the harness, than to have to undo the fear they might have after forcing it on and hoping for the best. To start, first show your dog the harness, let him sniff it, and give him a treat after he does. After a few rounds of this, make your dog put his head through the harness in order to reach the treat you are holding on the other side. This way, your dog will be comfortable with the harness going over their head, because they now have a positive association with it. Once your dog is comfortable with the harness over their head, gently clip the harness and let your dog wear it for a few minutes, and then take it off, and give a treat. Gradually repeat this over the next few days and keep it on longer and longer each time. Once they’re all good with that, you can start using it on your walks.
- Time to get on the bike! Just like when you were learning to drive a car for the first time, I recommend finding a very low traffic area that has places to practice your turns, stoping, and starting. I also recommend making sure it has very low pedestrian traffic. You don’t want to start off your first bike ride with an injured, law suit happy, bystander. If you plan on letting your dog pull you, start by giving her the “go” command and try to match her pace as she starts. You will really want to take your time and watch her closely. Some dogs might just see a giant two wheel monster chasing them when they look back, so they try to run faster, and unlike chasing the elusive magic dragon, the bike will catch her if she decides to stop in a panic. Make sure you regulate the speed the first couple outings to avoid this situation. Even if your dog is pulling like crazy, make sure you are riding the brakes so you’re traveling at a safe speed. As you both get more comfortable with each other and the commands, you can slowly go faster and faster until you get so close to light speed that only the physics of the universe will be able to slow you down.
Tips – (learn from my mistakes)
- Every time you get close to a pole, tree, pedestrian, or some other unmovable object which could possibly get in-between you and your dog, SLOW DOWN and pull your dog close to you. The two times I flipped over my handle bars were both from Sierra going on one side of a tree/pole and myself going on the other. Not a fun experience for anyone involved. For more details on this, see my previous posts on biking.
- Use your bike bell/horn every time you get close to a pedestrian. Even if the person is out of the way, they can always decide to step right in front of you if they don’t hear you coming. It also prevents them from jumping in shock when they first see your dog in their peripheral vision.
- Take it easy the first few times you go out. Your dog will be working a lot harder than you, make sure you always remember this. They will need breaks and especially water much more frequently than you.
- If it’s warm out, skip the bike. If you wouldn’t want to put a jacket on an run a few miles in the current weather, wait until the evening when it cools down to take her out. Especially in the middle of summer, it can often be too hot to safely bike your dog. I never go out if it’s over 75 degrees with my Husky.
- Look out for small critters running around the area. Depending on your dog’s prey drive, a rabbit or squirrel running out in front of your dog could lead to something akin to Mr. Toads Wild Ride.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basis of biking with your dog, let’s look at what equipment you will need to keep both you and your dog safe. Before you begin, please make sure your dog is in good physical shape. They will be running for a prolonged period of time, so any small health issues can become bigger issues very quickly. If you’re at all unsure if your dog can handle the stress, please check with your vet before you start biking with your dog. Also, if your dog is under the age of 1, you really don’t want to put a lot of pressure on your dog’s muscular and skeletal system, as it’s still developing. You can start teaching them to be comfortable next to a bike, and start teaching commands, but try and avoid having them run until they are over a year old.
OK, so now you’re ready to start, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment to keep both of your safe. So let’s dig in to the basics.
Do you have a dog that never seems to get worn out on your daily walks, no matter how long they are? I ran into this issue with my Husky Sierra, and wanted to find a solution. I had seen and read about biking your dog to help get their energy out, but was apprehensive at first because of the inherent dangers of traveling at high speed on a bike with a dog attached to you. But at some point I had to bite the bullet and just go for it.
Looking for something for you and your dog to do this weekend? Check out the 2015 Woof Stock in Long Beach. The event is sponsored by Petco, and will be running from 12-4pm. There will be food, contests, raffles and of course Tillman, the skateboarding Bull Dog! It’s free admission, and should be a good time with great weather. For more info, check out the event page:
There is still hope for sheltered dogs and cats in Orange County. Over the last 5 years, the death rates in Orange County shelters has dropped 17%, and is still trending to drop further. One of the biggest contributors to its decline is a larger percentage of the pet population being spayed or neutered. However, even with the good news, we can be doing better. For the last 5 years, LA has enforced a law requiring all pet parents to spay or neuter their pets. This has resulted in a dramatic decrease in kill rates at the shelters throughout LA. In fact, in 2014, there were a little over 13,500 less dogs and cats killed in LA shelters than in 2010. Orange County has yet to pass legislation to require you, if you aren’t a responsible breeder, to have your dog spayed or neutered. It has already gone to a vote once but didn’t pass. I’m hoping with the evidence of it’s ability to not only reduces the city’s spendings, but more importantly, to save dog’s lives, it will pass when it goes up for a vote again, hopefully that day comes soon. To read the full article, which goes into further detail, click below.
If you live in Lake Forest, and have been frustrated by the lack of dog parks, there’s good news on the horizon. As part of the new construction being done by Shea Baker Ranch Associates, a brand new 21,000 square foot dog park will be built on the cul-de-sac of Baffin Bay Drive. There will be 5,300 square feet for the large dog section, and 3,400 square feet for the small dog. The remaining space will be for parking. There’s no set date for the opening yet, as the plan just got approved by the city on Tuesday, but when they set a date, I will let you know. For the full article in the OC Register CLICK HERE.
If you don’t already have plans for this Sunday, the American Cancer Society will be hosting a “Bark for Life” walk/event from 11am-2pm on April 26th in Huntington Beach. Registration is $10 for a human, or $15 if you want to bring your dog along too. For more information, and to register CLICK HERE.
At Home Cooling
UPDATED MAY 2017
Now that I’ve covered cooling beds and how to keep dogs cool during outdoor activities, the final topic we will explore is day-to-day activities at home. Because our dogs tend to spend a majority of their lives at home, we want to make sure they’re cool, comfortable, and stay hydrated all day long.