Trail dogs have become a popular topic with more and more dogs making their way into mountain bike videos and magazines as of late. Since most mountain bikers love the outdoors, it’s no wonder so many are also dog owners. Dogs need daily exercise and it’s hard to have more fun exercising your dog than on a mountain bike.
It’s a fact, dogs love running off-leash,
as fast as they can through the forest. I can’t help but to have a smile on my face when I look back and see my dog flying through the woods with her tongue hanging out. I started riding with my dog – Fern, when she was just a few months old. Instantly she caught on and was getting the hang of staying out of the way of my wheels, and began to read the trail and know what my next move would be. After a few weeks of practicing in the yard and on quiet, easy trails, I had myself a new riding buddy.
Dogs are always up for hitting the trails, no matter how cold, wet, or hot of a day it is. Thankfully, mine always keeps up and but doesn’t mind stopping to take a photo or rest.
Not all dogs or dog breeds make good trail dogs, and not all trails are meant for dogs. Knowing your dogs ability to run and their stamina is important as you could be doing them harm by over exercising them. Don’t forget to bring along some water on longer riders for your furry friend too.
Your dog should be comfortable around bikes and have good recall behaviour if you are going to be taking them off-leash on a trail. Know the trails before you take your dog on them. It could have sharp rocks that will cut their pads or be straight up too difficult for them. If it’s a busy trail where you know you will regularly encounter other riders; find another trail or leave your dog at home that day.
Be smart and look out for your dog’s safety, as well as the other trail users. I couldn’t imagine the grief it would cause if I hit someone’s dog while on my bike and killed it and I don’t even want to think what it would be like if that happened to my dog. There are no bad dogs, just bad dog owners.
I think the most important thing for me and my dog was to introduce her to bikes gradually as a puppy and start out riding really slow in the yard and steadily work up from that. Now, a year and a half later, when she hears the velcro on my shoes or me getting out my bike, she’s already stretching and is so stoked that we are about to go out and shred.
What do you think? Should dogs be allowed on mountain bike trails?