Your dog has some energy to burn off, and you want to introduce them to competitive dog sports. But how do you know which one to get involved in? Bikejoring is one of the fastest growing competitive dog sports out there. Read on to learn about Bikejoring, how it’s done, and why it makes such a great competitive sport!
What is Bikejoring?
Bikejoring is a sport where you ride a mountain bike with your dog running alongside, or more often, in front of you. It is essentially dog-powered biking, similar to Skijor, which you can read about here, and Canicross, which you can read about here. The main difference being that since a bike is used, the speed of Bikejoring is unmatched. Watch this video to see a Bikejoring team in action.
Bikejor is a great way to bond, stay active and participate in an exciting new sport. Competitive dog sports such as Bikejoring are very popular in Europe and are growing in popularity across North America because they provide unique challenges for owners and their pets to conquer together. Like Canicross, Bikejor was created by sled dog racers to keep their pups fit during the summer months. This video gives you a taste of how fun Bikejoring can be with your dog.
Benefits of Bikejoring for Dogs
As you probably already know, dogs benefit from being active through sport and exercise. The mental health benefits for dogs are fairly obvious. It’s not just that they get to burn off energy when they participate in a sport like Bikejoring, but they also get outside and exposed to different sights, sounds, and experiences.
Benefits for You
Competitive dog sports are a great way to spend quality time with your pooch—and they provide plenty of benefits for you as well. Bikejoring is an ideal form of exercise for people and pets alike because it’s low-impact—you aren’t pounding up and down hills (as you would be if running), and there are no jarring motions that could lead to injuries such as ACL tears. There is also some evidence to suggest that cycling outdoors can help people manage stress or depression.
How to Train Your Dog for Bikejoring
While Bikejoring can seem intimidating, there are easy ways to train your dog. You will want to start out on fairly flat terrain. Here are three tips to get started:
- Teach your dog commands. Before you go out for a ride, make sure your pup knows basic commands like sit, stay and come. For Bikejoring specifically, your dog will need to know commands for getting in the start position (line out), going right (gee) or left (haw), and start or go (hike),
- Get your dog used to running while you ride a bike, off leash and then on leash, and
- Get the right equipment.
Watch this video to see a dog mom training her pup in an urban setting.
Bikejoring Gear – What You Need
One thing to keep in mind is that you're going to need some specialized gear. Most of it isn't too pricey and can be found online if you don't find it at your local pet supply store. Keep in mind that biking with a dog can be very different than biking without one. The basic equipment you need is:
- A bike
- A bungee leash
- A specialized harness for your dog that allows free shoulder movement
- An antennae or noodle to keep the leash up and out of the spokes of your bike tire.
Watch this video to get an overview of the equipment needed for Bikejoring.
What you need to know about Bikejor Racing
It’s best to enter a race at least a month in advance. This will give you time to learn about local rules and regulations. You may also want to visit with your veterinarian and make sure your dog is in good health. If your pup is new to biking, don’t jump into a race; instead focus on gaining experience by Bikejoring for 30 minutes or so each day for a week or two before racing.
In a race, a team consists of a rider and one or two dogs, maybe more. The trails are off-road and teams compete through time trials, so that only one team is on the trail at a time.
Any dog can try Bikejoring. Check out our blog post on the fastest dogs on the planet to see a list of dogs that like and excel at running. If your dog is not a runner, you can also put them in a carrier and take them along!
There are also alternatives to using bikes and specific events for them, like kick bikes and scooters.
Watch this video to see the options and how to get the whole family involved!
Where to find out more about Bikejor and Events
Many dog lovers are drawn to Bikejor for both practical and recreational reasons. For some, it’s a great way to get daily exercise for their pooch. For others it can be an adrenaline-pumping outlet that’s fun and exciting. If you have any questions about trying out Bikejor with your own pup, or would like to start competing in dog sledding competitions, don’t hesitate to call your local mushers association.