Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Bikejoring is very similar to canicross, the only difference is that instead of running with your dog you are on a bike and they are pulling you. This sport is also closely related to mushing as your dogs are physically pulling you. You are allowed to pedal which will help your dogs although there is conjecture that if you pedal then your dogs won’t know how to react as they are taught to pull, this may cause confusion. This sport is usually done either on a bike or there are specific scooters or carts that can be used depending on the driver and owner.
Bikejoring is always done on dry terrains and is often a way of keeping your mushing dogs fit and gives them something to do while in off-season. It is considered training for mushing dogs although you can’t take the whole team out at once. Instead one or two dogs are all that you can take at a time, any more and their lines might get tangled together or you could have difficulty stopping them.
There is a risk of injury to yourself in Bikejoring, if your dogs don’t listen to commands very well they could easily take off at full speed leaving you hanging on for dear life. Instead make sure your dogs take commands well and can slow and stop on your command. More than likely you will come off your bike at least once., so try to keep to softer terrains such as forest areas and tracks instead of riding on the road or concrete. This way you avoid a hard landing but you are also saving your dog’s feet from being over exposed to rough surfaces.
There are events and races that you can enter with your dogs, the sport is European so there are more races there than anywhere else in the world, online searching will find certain places in your country that will hold events.
The main events are usually split into two, for bikejoring and races that include the driver using a scooter instead. The two dog bikejoring and scooter events are held at distances of 4.8 kilometres. There are separate events that include just a single dog competing in at the same distance.
Bikejoring is a great way for your dog to keep active, it also encourages specific breeds to do what they naturally do, pull things. You and your dog will bond over the sport and you will both keep fit and healthy with regular exercise.
SUITABLE BREEDS FOR BIKEJORING
Being almost identical to mushing, the same breeds used for pulling usually dominate bikejoring, the most common being the Husky and Malamute. Any dog breed can compete, as long as they are willing to pull. Most dogs that show obsession with running and pulling would be better suited for it and that can actually be seen as a good trait, working dogs with high levels of energy are also suited for the sport as they have high stamina levels.
Keep in mind that smaller breeds may get hurt while Bikejoring, use common sense by only using bigger dogs and dogs that can keep a good pace in the sport. Remember if you have two or more dogs this becomes more dangerous as they will have more power and pace when working together.
There are some obvious requirements in order to properly participate it, such as having a bike. There are different types of bikes that can be used, generally the majority tend to use mountain bikes as the courses vary greatly over different terrains. It is recommended to always keep your dogs running on softer surfaces such as through the woods or grassy tracks to save their feet, so these surfaces are more suited for mountain bikes.
Harnesses are essential for your dog’s comfort and safety. The harnesses used for sledding can be used the same in bikejoring, with the x-back. Once again check for tightness with the two-finger method. The leash is also important and different ones can be used, usually a bungee type of leash is preferred with the stretched distance of 2-3m. Once again, any more or less could be problematic.
There is an attachment available for your bike that will keep the leash high and away from the front wheel of your bike while your dogs are pulling. An extension rod that prevents crashes or tangles of the line is very crucial.
As previously referenced in training methods for sledding and at the beginning of this chapter these two sports are very similar in regards to what the dog is actually doing. Therefore, the training methods are going to be very similar as well. Start small and work your way up, getting your dog to pull you while on your bike is one thing but getting your dog to obey your commands is entirely different.
The vital commands are “go”, “slow”, “stop”, “right”, “left”. You can use different words such as mushing calls, these are just the actions of which your dogs should do. These commands can be taken from the other sports mentioned earlier such as canicross and sledding. You must also teach your dogs to ignore certain things, such as squirrels or other things that will distract them, if they chase it you’re going along with them. It is a lot harder to control your dogs when you don’t have any physical control over them.
If you have puppies and are looking to start teaching them early you can work on commands and behavioral problems that may exist. But remember not to let them pull you on a bike until they are of proper age. If you have two dogs and one is older and more experienced let him teach the younger dog, which may be hard at first but remember to always praise and encourage your dogs, this will let the younger one know what the older dog is doing right to receive praise.
It is essential to give your dogs plenty of breaks while out and about they will need it. While taking a break praise them for their efforts and give them plenty of water. Enjoy the scenery and enjoy the time you spend with your dogs, they will learn to trust you more and will understand that you care about them.