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Love riding with dogs, but...

Dogs are fun to ride with and can do real well on the trail, depending on the dog. I ride with a great dog sometimes and really enjoy it and I can tell she does too.

But be careful, I had a girlfriend that was attacked by very bad dogs, requiring 70 some stiches in her leg. As I said, very bad dogs. She was quite scared of dogs for a year plus after that. So first of all, make sure you can control your dog very well. If you get a dog out on the trail and the dog scares people, then they will whine 'til the trail cops say no dogs on the trail.

Things to watch out for:
dog gives chase to animal or scent and runs off, what will you do?
trail running is hard on dog feet,
dogs need water to stay cool
dogs don't know to get out of the way sometimes
some dogs get excited and jump up at other riders, can be dangerous
nobody wants crap on the trail​

This article from dirt rag has some good points: http://www.dirtragmag.com/print/article.php?ID=669

I trained the dog I ride with on the warm up trail out of hard times in Bent Creek, worked real well and we have a blast.

Matt
 

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When did you get here?!?!
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Some dogs are built for it, some are not. What kind of dog do you have?

Be very careful and think first and foremost about the health and safety of your animal.

I had a Lab/Pit mix that loved to run. I ran her too hard though and hip problems plagued her life from a year old to the end.

Now I have a Lab/Boxxer mix. We started jogging with her at about a half year old and didn't start biking with her until she could easily run with a jogger for 8-10 miles. Now she can easily run alongside the bike for hours at a time.

So, what I'm saying is riding with your 4 legged friend is tons of fun but can be very hard on him. If you decide your dog listens to you well enough, is unlikely to chase deer, rabbitts, chipmunks, or other riders, and is in good enough shape physically, Go do a short ride with him. See if he likes it!

Oh, one more thing, I've not ever had to go home without my dog but know folks who have. In the end they put their dirty chamios and jersey with a blanket right near where their car had been parked. They also left a note with their phone number on a tree next to the blanket. The next morning they got the call they were waiting for, a hiker found the dog waiting at the blanket.

~E
 

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Is your dog really, really, super well-trained? Do you ride alone or with very small groups of people you know pretty well? Are your rides something less than epics? If yes, then yes.

We used to ride w/ our two dogs, a Doberman and a Golden Retriever. They were ridiculously well-trained by my thinks-it's-the-Marines husband. He was not shy about hiting them in the butt w/ his front tire a few times on their first rides. Shortly, they knew to get off the trail in a HURRY if they heard you coming. Actually, we used to ride with a lot of humans that couldn't grasp getting the hell out of the way as well as those dogs did. ;-)

They also need to be well trained in "sit" and "stay", even when other dogs/humans/horses are around.

Back in those days, though, we rode just me and my husband. Once we started riding w/ groups, we left the dogs at home. No matter how cute and sweet and perfectly trained you think your dogs are, other people may disagree. A few people over the years brought their dogs on our group rides, and they were generally resented for it. We also usually rode less than 15 miles w/ the dogs.

Other tips:
Plan your ride to include stream crossing for water. Some dogs are not good at drinking out of a water bottle.

Make sure your dog has a collar w/ your name and number on it.

When the dogs start getting old, scale back their rides.

Don't forget to wait a few times on long downhills. That's when they get far behind you and risk getting confused about the trail and lost.

Avoid dangerous lookouts. Slate Rock comes to mind.

Don't pet them if you see them rolling in Posion Ivy.
 

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I tried to pass a guy at LNSP who was riding with 3 of his dogs. I had a hell of a time getting around him and his scurrying group. And his lab took a nip at my ankle! Kinda soured me on the whole "dog on bike trail" thing.

On a Beehive/Raiders ride, I rode with a guy who brought his little dog. I was amazed. That little guy had to wait for US! Quick and never in the way. I hope he always brings him along.

Two examples of guys bringing dogs. Problem is...both guys love their dogs, and believe they are fine for the trails. How do you tell one owner no, and the other yes??
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a australian cattle dog. he isn't aggressive at all and i am sure that he would stay with me and is very well trained but he is kinda out of shape and my only worry is if he can keep up
 

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SB173Koach said:
I have a australian cattle dog. he isn't aggressive at all and i am sure that he would stay with me and is very well trained but he is kinda out of shape and my only worry is if he can keep up
Well....he only has to go as fast as you go, right? Only one way to find out.
 

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I took my young Aussie with me on a trail ride out at Catawba River Front when it was open. He was about 9 months old at the time. He had a blast for about the first 2 miles, then worked into a groove with me for the next mile or so. By the time I got half way round, basically to the lake, he was beat. By the time we got done a couple of pads had torn from all the running. I felt bad. He listened well, but there also was no one out on the trail that either. I worried he may not listen as well or follow another rider so I didn't take him back. I didn't want to take a chance of losing him or him causing another rider or me to go down.

Your cattle dog should make a great dog to run along with you, with proper training. They are breed to run a lot, so take it slow in the start and you should be fine. However, pick your trails and time of week/day wisely so it is not so crowded.
 

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Southern Fried mUni
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pisgahproductions said:
Some dogs are built for it, some are not. What kind of dog do you have?

Be very careful and think first and foremost about the health and safety of your animal.

I had a Lab/Pit mix that loved to run. I ran her too hard though and hip problems plagued her life from a year old to the end.
What he said......
I have a lab and in her day she was a stellar frisbee dog but I worked her too hard and I wished I hadn't. Now she's had ACL surgery and has horrible arthritis in that knee and will barely put any weight on it....now she is 8 but has been like this since about 4. Just remember that your dog will push itself in a way that humans can't and that's how they get hurt. If you have a big dog(50+ lbs) I'd probably just leave her at home b/c you're just asking for knee/hip issues.
 

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another ruined dog

I also have a dog that used to love to go for rides, she heard the Sidis clicking and she knew it was time for a run, but I wore her knees out and now she walks around like a cripple. The problem is that they don't complain and usually don't give up until it's too late. Knee surgery later $$$ and she's all arthritic and it breaks your heart to see her fall down chasing rabbits. You need to be HYPER careful about over taxing you dogs ability and fitness. Remember that they don't know how to say quit so all the responsibilty is on you. As mentioned earlier, some breeds are better than others simply because of their physical conformation, and I would suggest not taking any dog under a year old for anything longer than a half an hour. Their bones are soft, and you have to thing long term. Do you want your best friend to end up a couch potato and have it be your fault? Sure is great to see them smiling when they are at it though.
 

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Know your dogs limits. Make sure it's well trained. Make sure the folks you're riding with are cool with your dog coming.

I have a great pyrennes. She's been going to bike trails since she was 9 months old -- she's now 4 yrs old. She's also done a LOT of hiking with me. I mostly take her out in the early spring, late fall and winter because she's a long haired dog and I don't want her out in the summer heat in GA. To make sure she's ready for the trail in the Fall, I start in late summer taking her on some trail runs (which are under 4 miles) then work her back into riding by late Fall. Now, I'll do these things througout the year to keep her trained, but it's physically demanding on her to go for a ride. For instance, I take her hiking once a week for about 5 miles. A couple weeks back, I took her on a 2 mile trail ride on a very flat trail near home.

I know she can do a 10 mile ride with me at an 8mph pace on a groomed trail with no trouble. I do not take her in the backcountry for a lot of reasons - too much climbing, other animals, etc. She's really good about staying on trail except to do her business which she exits the trail to do. When I'm with others, she'll run between riders 1 and 2. As long as we're moving, I don't have to worry about her straying off after deer or squirrels, which is nice too.

Big keys are just spending a lot of time training the dog to certain commands and being physically ready to be on trail and deal with other riders.
 

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Dogs must be leashed at Dupont. Make sure you have control of the dog. Some idiot with a dog almost got me killed a while back. I'm pinning it on a sweet downhill and some guys dog shoots out of the woods right in front of me. He says "just hit him he'll move".....right and launch me like a missle! I love dogs,I have 4 of them but sometime the owners are suspect.
 

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Over the last 20 years of mountain biking I have known many people that rode with their dogs. Every one of them I have kept in touch with wound up permanently injured in their later years because of it. Arthritis, carpal deterioration, ruptured disc, other lower back issues, etc. Younger dogs are easiest to injure permanently because their bones in their paws I hear are soft until quite awhile till they are well over a couple of years old.
Dogs love to run and will run like crazy while you coast downhill. As a matter of fact, the will love it to death (If not from cardio stress in smaller breeds, the downhill impacts will get them in all sizes, think marathon runners!)
Try running with your dog on the trail and you are on equal terms and if you can't cheat by flying down the hills on a bike they will kick your ass ! Another buddy of mine runs with his 3 year old pit/retriever rescue all the time. Also he rides with him on his riding recovery days up technical climbs going as hard as he can to keep up and then goes VERY SLOW with him on the down hills. Since he runs with him he knows exactly what pace is not too fast. All dogs love anaerobic activity. Not crazy all day + huge leaps in air Frisbee competition type stuff, (you see allot of high back injuries in those dogs as you do with dogs that are allowed to jump out of suv's.) But, a good field with a tennis ball thrower for 30 minutes to an hour every couple of days is great doggie anaerobics (Not every day, think recovery.) http://www.petsmart.com/global/prod...0&Ntt=thrower&In=All&previousText=thrower&N=2
Oh yea, warm them up first with easy short throws or a walk first.
Btw, trail running or hiking with a dog is just damn fun, I borrow my friends sometime for trail runs, hikes (I run uphill and walk the down hills cause I need my body intact for as long as possible also !) Another friend that is a mountain bike racer and vet told me all these good hints and also says he's seen many older dogs in bad shape from too much mountain biking earlier in their lives.
 

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glovemtb said:
Over the last 20 years of mountain biking I have known many people that rode with their dogs. Every one of them I have kept in touch with wound up permanently injured in their later years because of it. Arthritis, carpal deterioration, ruptured disc, other lower back issues, etc. Younger dogs are easiest to injure permanently because their bones in their paws I hear are soft until quite awhile till they are well over a couple of years old.
Dogs love to run and will run like crazy while you coast downhill. As a matter of fact, the will love it to death (If not from cardio stress in smaller breeds, the downhill impacts will get them in all sizes, think marathon runners!)
Try running with your dog on the trail and you are on equal terms and if you can't cheat by flying down the hills on a bike they will kick your ass ! Another buddy of mine runs with his 3 year old pit/retriever rescue all the time. Also he rides with him on his riding recovery days up technical climbs going as hard as he can to keep up and then goes VERY SLOW with him on the down hills. Since he runs with him he knows exactly what pace is not too fast. All dogs love anaerobic activity. Not crazy all day + huge leaps in air Frisbee competition type stuff, (you see allot of high back injuries in those dogs as you do with dogs that are allowed to jump out of suv's.) But, a good field with a tennis ball thrower for 30 minutes to an hour every couple of days is great doggie anaerobics (Not every day, think recovery.) http://www.petsmart.com/global/prod...0&Ntt=thrower&In=All&previousText=thrower&N=2
Oh yea, warm them up first with easy short throws or a walk first.
Btw, trail running or hiking with a dog is just damn fun, I borrow my friends sometime for trail runs, hikes (I run uphill and walk the down hills cause I need my body intact for as long as possible also !) Another friend that is a mountain bike racer and vet told me all these good hints and also says he's seen many older dogs in bad shape from too much mountain biking earlier in their lives.
Thanks for this very informative post. I have always been saddened that I have a dog who can't bike with me because he is somewhat "untrained" (a rescue beagle who will bolt if he sees a rabbit and isn't on the leash) but now I am not feeling too bad. I think I will keep him just the way he is and keep the biking to myself.
 

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Glovemtb et al- I think it comes down to how you ride with your dog and at what age you start, plus luck. I'm a one person case study.

I have a 13 1/2 year old golden retriever mix. He started riding with me about the same time I did- when he was around two years old and done growing. Of course, I started doing short beginner rides, gradually working up to 15-20 mile rides. He never went on a ride longer than that with me, I always stopped at the end of every downhill, at every water crossing, and when I lived in Arizona, I carried an extra 92oz of water for him on any ride that lasted over an hour (remember the Blackburn Monster cages?). He had no problems keeping up until the age of 10 or so, when he started to develop the hip problems you would expect in his breed at that age. I truly believe the reason why he is still with me today and able to walk happily but slowly for 30 - 40 minutes is that he had such an active life.

On the other hand, I have a 9 or so year old Chow mix. She started riding at about 10-11 months and LOVED it. When she was about 4, she broke a bone in her foot riding Fletcher Creek. After that healed, she was able to ride again for about 2 more years before the arthritis kicked in. Today, she can do fine walking with me for an hour or two, but doesn't really run except for short distances because of the arthritis/stiffness in all her legs, especially the one that was injured. I think the difference is the age she started plus injury. But, I do not regret for one minute giving her the joy of riding.

Dogs love mtbing. If it is done properly and with respect for the animal, I think it's fine. But, that means lots of breaks, riding slow on gravel roads, carrying extra water when you need to, and not starting until the dog is done growing. Personally, I would not take my dog on big group rides because really, I was taking breaks every 20-30 minutes, at water crossing or making sure they were OK. It had to be a ride for the dog, not you- take those fast rides without the dog. If you can't be responisble in this way, then don't take your dog.

Another way to look at- I choose to engage in dangerous activity because I love it. When I get another dog after these two leave me, I will offer that dog the same "choice". If it doesn't work for the particular dog, then I'll stop.

Peace. Mike
 

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Similar story. My Golden "rode" with us a lot from about age 3 - 7, and then less frequently and on shorter rides for a several more years. She made it to 15, and although she had a slight limp in the last couple of years, she was in good shape til the day she died.

It was heartbreaking to see the dogs wagging their tails and wild-eyed when they saw the bikes go in the truck....then that look of disappontment when they didn't hear the "up" command and we drove away without them. *sniff* Nobody likes getting old.
 
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