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Chapter 14: Putting The Wheels In Motion

Scooter, skates, and bike are all terrific ways to exercise your four-legged buddy. But…

Feeling A Little Clumsy Today?

If you’re prone to clumsiness, tend to fall whenever you use any type of wheeled contraption, or always seem to be the one who stubs toes, sprains ankles, and goes arse-over-head at any and every point…these are all signs that you should NOT use wheels to exercise your dog.

Knees And Lower Back

If you have had or currently have problems with knees and/or lower back, consult your health professional before using wheels to exercise your dog.

Talk To Your Vet

Not all dogs are good candidates for intense running, so get your vet’s okay first.

During Warm Weather

When the weather is warm only run your dog during the cooler times of the day (that is, close to sunrise or sunset) and just for short stints, especially if it’s humid. Bring along plenty of water and offer your dog a drink regularly.

Wait For The Burp

If your dog tends to gulp water and often follows with
a burp afterwards, let your dog sniff around a little before
starting your ride again. You want your dog to get that big
burp out before
he or she starts to run again.
 

During Blistering Hot Weather

If you live somewhere where the summers are scorchers and it’s still boiling hot even when the sun is low, running your dog using wheels will be seasonal. Give it a miss during such hot weather (especially if it’s also humid) and do other types of exercise instead.

When the weather’s right again for running don’t just pick up where you left off. Although you’ll have done other activities with your dog in the meantime, he or she will have lost some fitness in the intense running department after those few months break. Progress gradually to where you were before.

Safety First

Putting yourself on wheels is inherently dangerous, which
makes riding with your dog running alongside you inherently
dangerous too. The only way to reduce the risk (besides
always using protective gear) is to ride carefully at all times.

 

Speed

The most important aspect of riding carefully is keeping to a medium pace. Get your local bike shop to install a speedometer so that you can keep tabs on how fast you're going as you ride.

Light Or Reflective Clothing

Wheeled activities are best done during daylight hours. But you can sometimes misjudge the exact time of sunset, or a ride can be longer than you anticipated. Either way you can get caught riding in the dark (I know I have on several occasions).

To be prepared for this, wear light-coloured clothing and a reflective vest. A fluorescent vest for your dog is no good as he or she will be wearing a harness, so use a harness which already has reflective strips on it. The Ruff Wear Web Master Harness that my dogs wear have reflective strips. To increase visibility, you could also put some reflective anklets on your dog.

On Your Left

As with walking and swimming, have your dog run on your left.
 

Kids

If a kid is sprinting at you while you’re on wheels, slow down and immediately tell the child to stop in their tracks in a firm, authoritative voice. You want, first and foremost, to prevent a crash of any sort. Then, follow the advice I give regarding kids and dogs in Chapter 4: Safety And Well-Being While Out And About.

Other Dogs

A competent, careful person on wheels with a dog running alongside is a great combination. Add to the equation another dog leaping excitedly towards them, and great turns into not-so-great for all involved. And the bigger the wheels and the smaller the dogs, the more chance of a fatality.

The Reality

I’ve been astounded by how many people will just stand and watch as their dog charges at me while I’m riding with Jasmin running next to me.

Sure their dog might be friendly and only springing towards us in greeting, but I fail to see why common sense doesn’t tell them to stop their dog from bounding towards a person on wheels attached to a running dog. Sadly, I quickly discovered that common sense is not common at all, and I am still surprised to this day when this type of thing happens (and it happens all the time).

Seeing as you can’t control what others do (I wish!) and can only hope they’ll do the sensible thing, the best thing to do in this situation is to take action yourself. So whether or not you’re receiving help from the other person as their dog is racing in your direction, you, as the one on wheels, need to respond by coming to a complete stop.

Dogs On Retractable Leads Can Still Charge

Above I’ve assumed that the other person’s dog is off-lead. If a person has their dog on-lead they can control their dog if they choose to (and they don’t always choose to). With one exception: if that lead is a retractable lead. Then it’s a whole different story.

If the person is cluey, they’ll lock up the retractable lead when they see you coming. That’s a good start, but it doesn’t mean the lead doesn’t already have enough length on it to put you, your dog, and the other person’s dog in danger.

If the person is not cluey and doesn’t lock up the retractable lead, the retractable lead does little to stop the other dog from bolting over to say hello to your dog. And that spells trouble for everyone.

Bottom line: when you see someone holding the stupid bulky handle of the stupid invention called a retractable lead, be extra careful.

Detour: The Bucket Muzzle

If your dog doesn’t like other dogs, it's wise to put a bucket muzzle on him or her when you're on wheels.

The reason is that when you're on wheels it takes time for you to safely come to a stop and, by the time you do that, a dog barrelling towards you may already be there (dogs are very quick!) and your dog might start an argument. At least if your dog is wearing a muzzle, he or she won't be able to bite.

A good bucket muzzle is reasonably light and allows the dog to pant effectively, so it’s totally safe to use while exercising your dog.

On The Other Side

When you’re the one on foot, offer people exercising their
dogs using wheeled equipment the same courtesy you’d
expect by controlling your dog (and kids, if applicable) and
staying at a safe distance. (And if you own a retractable lead,
for goodness sake, throw it away and get a proper lead!)

 

This is NOT A Dog-Powered Sport

My suggestion of using wheels to exercise your dog is NOT aimed at having your dog pull you: the idea is for your dog to run alongside you, not ahead of you and pulling.

Commands Needed While On Wheels

  • let’s go: indicates to the dog to go straight ahead, not in a strict heeling position, but still to your left.

  • right: indicates to the dog to turn right.

  • left: indicates to the dog to turn left.

  • easy: tells the dog to slow his or her pace as you put the brakes on.

  • stop: after you’ve slowed substantially and it’s safe to stop, this command tells your dog to halt.

  • free: after you’ve slowed to a stop, this command indicates to your dog that he or she can go to the toilet (use good wee-wee as praise), sniff about, and generally have a break from running.

  • uh-uh: a reprimand to use if your dog tries to veer, slow, or stop without your command.

  • leave it: indicates to your dog to pass by whatever he or she may be interested in and keep going. You can use this command in combination: ie: uh -uh! leave it!

  • stop/sit/stay/walk: these commands are to be used for when crossing roads (and crossing roads should be done on foot, NOT on wheels). Note that I'm suggesting you say walk rather than heel - that’s to indicate to your dog to walk on your left but not at a strict heel (although if your dog is great at heeling you can certainly use heel if you wish).

Say It Loud!

Between the noise from the wheels and the wind in your dog’s ears from running, you’ll need to increase your usual voice volume when giving commands while on wheels. You don’t have to yell, just speak loudly and clearly.

No Chit Chat!

don’t chatter to your dog while you’re on wheels. This
is
especially important when in the process of teaching
your dog the special commands you'll use when you're on
wheels (henceforth to be called the ‘wheeled commands'),
as the commands are likely to get lost in your blah-blah.

 

Lessons Of Five To Twenty Minutes

Running using wheeled equipment means non-stop, heart-pumping, mega-fitness-inducing running for your dog. Intense running. Yes, it’s good for your dog, but only if you build up slowly.

Even if your dog is already quite fit, start with short sessions of five minutes. Then increase by five minute increments until your dog’s lessons (and therefore your dog’s running) are twenty minutes long.

All things going well, the learning process outlined below should take no more than a month. That’s what I recommend, but talk with your vet and devise a prospective plan that’s best and safest for your dog.

Not Fit Enough?

If you think your dog isn’t fit enough to run for five minutes straight
you shouldn’t be running your dog at all. You need to build up your
dog’s fitness with power walking and less intense running in the
park using a recall lead before running him or her using wheels.

 

Detour: Extended Holiday

If your dog has a month or more off from running alongside you on wheels, start from scratch to build up your dog’s stamina.

You might even want to do a limited version of the lesson plans I’m about to outline to revise the whole commands-with-you-on-wheels thing...you know, just to play it safe. (You don’t want to discover your dog needs to brush up on 'wheeled commands' the hard way - that is, while face down on the concrete after a nasty fall.)

Teaching The ‘Wheeled Commands'

Like I said previously, this website isn’t about training, so thus far I haven’t offered information on how to teach the commands I suggest you use for certain activities. But because let’s go, right, left, and easy aren’t commands taught during obedience classes and in training books, I think it’s only fair that I give you instructions on how to teach them to your dog. So, here goes…

The Footpath Is Your Classroom

Teaching and reinforcing 'wheeled commands' is best done on a footpath while continuously going around the block in the same direction.

As your dog is on your left, right is the safest turn to begin teaching because you’re turning away from your dog, so we’ll start with that.

Teaching The right Turn

  • As you take off, say, let’s go in a fun yet commanding voice.

  • When nearing a corner, say easy repeatedly as you carefully put on the brakes and slow down. Still use a voice that’s commanding, but also make it somewhat calming by elongating your syllables: "Eeeasy, eeeasy."

  • One second before you’re due to turn right, give the command right in a clear and authoritative voice. (And I quite literally mean “one second before” because to maximise safety, precision is essential when you’re on wheels.)

  • After the turn, put the fun back in your voice and enthusiastically praise your dog by saying good right Then give the let’s go command in an animated tone.

Reinforce…

Go around the same block in the same direction to reinforce the right command for as many lessons as your dog needs to get the hang of it.

…Then Generalise

You don’t want your dog to only associate the right command with one particular block, so generalise the command by doing the same as above on half a dozen different blocks.

By the time you’re done with those half dozen blocks, your dog should understand that when you say right it refers to a right turn no matter where you are. If this is not the case, keep practising on different blocks until you believe your dog has mastered it.

Moving On To The left Turn

At this stage your dog should know let’s go, easy and right. Now it’s time to go back to the original block you started with. This time, go in the opposite direction so that you can teach the command left. Do it all in exactly the same way as you taught the right command.

Be Extra Careful!

Take extra care with the left turn: it’s the more dangerous
of the two because you’re turning towards your dog.

 

Mixing It Up

Now your dog knows let’s go, easy, right and left and by now should have built up the stamina to run comfortably for twenty minutes. Time to get back to that original block and start mixing things up:

  • Do three rounds in one direction reinforcing the command right.

  • Do three rounds in the other direction reinforcing the command left.

  • Do two rounds in one direction and two in the other.

  • Then one round in one direction and one in the other.

After mixing it up as outlined above on that block, do the same on another and then another block until you’ve completed the above process on half a dozen different blocks (or more if needed).

By the end of these drills, your dog should firmly understand all the 'wheeled commands' and be able to execute them wherever you ride.

Keep The Focus

During the above learning process, give your dog a
chance to go to the toilet before each lesson (a five minute
walk should do it). This, and keeping the lessons short
(up to twenty minutes maximum, remember?), will
help your dog to stay focussed on the task at hand.

 

Time To Sniff?

Your dog should already know from going on walks with you that it’s only on the command free that he or she can stop to sniff about. For safety’s sake, you must teach your dog that it’s the same rule for wheeled activities: that when the wheels are turning, it’s go-go-go unless you say so:

  • Give a strong uh-uh! leave it! if your dog tries to stop and sniff.

  • When your dog’s attention is back, give an enthusiastic let’s go!

Never Any Toilet Breaks While On Wheels?

If you keep the sessions short - say, twenty minutes
or less - and give your dog a chance to go to the toilet
beforehand, you can run your dog without breaks.

 

The Exception To The No-Toilet-Breaks-Needed Rule

If your dog tries to stop two or three times in a row during a run, it means one of two things: that your dog needs to go to the toilet or that he or she is tired and needs a breather.

Either way, you must give your dog a break as soon as possible, BUT without letting your dog dictate the rules. Instead, retain your position of leader by stopping on your terms.

To do this, prevent your dog from stopping using uh-uh! leave it! and wait ten seconds before giving the appropriate commands for a break (see instructions below). Dogs don’t associate occurrences beyond two seconds apart - four seconds if they’re highly intelligent dogs - so the waiting period is crucial. It will seem to your dog that stopping was your idea and not his or hers.

Making it clear to your dog that it’s your rules only will help keep you and your dog safe. Otherwise you’ll be in for a great many falls and will end up injuring yourself and your dog.

Giving Your Dog A Breather

I recommended building up to a twenty minute maximum for lessons during the learning process. By the end of it, your dog will have developed the physical endurance to go for longer.

As the intensity of the learning curve has come to an end, you’ll be able to incorporate breaks for your dog during longer rides without throwing him or her off-focus. (Remember, it’s not about pursuing fitness at all times - it’s about smelling the roses along the way too. Or, in the case of dogs, smelling the trees and lamp posts.)

When you want to give your dog a break:

  • Slow down using easy.

  • When the time is right, say stop before stopping completely.

  • Get off the scooter or bike (you have to stay on the skates though).

  • sit/stay your dog.

  • Give the command free.

Toilet Breaks And Skates

While on skates you can get pulled down by a dog who’s been told free. One solution is to forever keep skating sessions short enough so that your dog doesn't need a toilet break.

But I’m sure you realise that nature can call even if you give your dog ample opportunity to go to the toilet before skating. Be prepared for this by developing your strength (particularly abdominal strength) and activate your muscles to ‘shock-absorb’ your dog’s pulls of enthusiasm after he or she has been told free.

Crossing Roads With Scooter Or Bike

Use a combo of ‘wheeled commands’ and regular commands to walk (not ride) across roads:

  • As you get to the curb, say easy as you slow down.

  • Command stop when the time is right.

  • Hop off the bike and sit/stay your dog.

  • When it’s time, use walk (or heel if you prefer) to cross the road.

Crossing Roads With Skates

It’s simple enough to dismount your scooter or bike to cross the road on foot. But what about skates? You can’t jump off your skates to cross a road, so how about skating across the road? Three words: no, NO, NO.

In order to get to where you’re going and then back home again, you can either drive or (if the skating destination is close by) you could put all your protective gear on and carry your skates to your destination in a backpack while walking your dog. (Put your shoes in the backpack after you’ve changed into your skates.)

Walk With Scooter

You can also walk to your scootering destination in
the same way you do with your skating destination if
your scooter folds up to fit into a backpack.

 

Equipment Needed For Scooter, Skates And Bike

Equipment Scooter Skates Bike
Helmet Yes Yes Yes
Bike gloves Yes - Yes
Wrist guards - Yes -
Sneakers Yes - Yes
Harness Yes Yes Yes
Socks + booties Possibly Possibly Possibly
Adjustable lead + EzyDog Mongrel Extension Yes Yes -
WalkyDog - - Yes
Bike basket + three collars with heavy-duty buckles - - Possibly
Trailer - - Possibly

No Motorised Scooters

Motorised scooters are OUT. They’re way too loud and potentially damaging to delicate canine ears (and also annoyingly loud for everyone else). Just as importantly, you should be teaching your dog to keep away from all motorised vehicles, not run alongside them.

Scooters: Maximum Weight Check

Before buying, check the maximum weight the
scooter takes to make sure it’s suitable for you.

 

Inline Skates

The most cost-effective skate is not the cheapest one, it’s the one you’ll get the most use out of. So get an excellent quality skate that feels great on your foot even if it does cost a bit more.

Like sneakers, certain brands are better for particular feet - eg. very narrow or very wide feet - so buy from a skate shop (rather than a sports store) where you’ll get expert help in choosing the correct pair for you.

Detour: Why Not Rollerskates?

For running your dog, inline skates are better than rollerskates due to the position of the stopper.

Rollerskates have a stopper at the front, so you’re upright with your weight slightly forward when stopping. If your dog tugs in that moment, it’s likely that you’ll land on your face.

When stopping on inline skates you’re squatting with your weight slightly backwards. The squatting gives you more stability, and your weight slightly backwards counteracts some of the dog’s tug.

(You could say that if a dog pulls backwards when you’re stopping on inline skates you’ll end up on your butt. I say that if you need wheels on your feet to keep up with your dog, you’ve got a dog who’s more likely to pull forwards than backwards!)

Bike

Mountain bikes are preferable to racing bikes for exercising your dog, as they can handle most terrains. Get a good one from a bike shop (rather than a sports store) with excellent brakes - for obvious reasons - and a very comfortable saddle.

A comfortable saddle might sound like a small matter, but if you’ve been on a bike for more than ten minutes, you’ll know it’s important that your bottom feels comfortable while you ride. As with skates, the more comfortable you are on the bike, the more you’ll ride, giving you value for money and enormous physical benefits for you and your dog.

Additional equipment (also from a bike shop) to invest in includes:

  • Flashing lights to attach to the bike.

  • A bike lock.

  • A bike tyre pump.

  • Wheel covers.

Saddle Height And Body Safety

Get the people in the bike shop to adjust the seat to
suit you so that your legs don’t bend (seat too low)
or straighten (seat too high) excessively. The right
seat height means safe knees and lower back.

 

Going Off-Road

Your dog’s paw pads and joints can really take a beating from too much running on concrete, so when you can go off-road, do it. No need to go anywhere special - you can do laps around a local park.

Off-Road Scooters

Off-road scooters aren’t available in all counties. If they’re not easily attainable in your country of residence, you could import one from the United States where there is a wide selection. As a starting point, check out Dog Scooter to see what’s available.

If you plan to specialise in scootering with your dog, an off-road scooter is definitely worth considering from a safety point of view because:

  • The bike-like wheels can cope better with bumps.

  • The brake system is operated from the handlebars (just like a bike), making it more efficient and therefore safer than dragging your foot or using the braking system on-road scooters have.

Off-Road Skates

Again, off-road skates are widely available in the US but not in most countries. Your local skate shop could order some in for you by fitting you for a brand that makes off-road skates (if the fit is good in one skate of that brand, it’ll be good for any skate of that brand).

With off-road skates you’ll be able to ride on hard-packed dirt and grass, and they handle bumps much better than on-road skates. But while you can ride off-road scooters and mountain bikes on many terrains, off-road skates are specifically for off-road activity and aren’t suitable for riding on concrete. So if you want to do both, you’ll need both types of skates.

Going Off-Road On A Bike

Mountain bikes are on- and off-road machines that you can take on most terrains. Though going on grass or dirt is harder work for you, the softer ground is easier on your dog’s joints and paws, so do it as often as you can. (Plus the extra intensity is an opportunity for you to burn a few more calories!)

Note: On-Road Info

Although I’ve spoken about off-road scooters and skates, as
they aren’t readily available in all countries I’ll only refer to the
their more easily available on-road cousins from this point on.

 

The Downside Of Off-Road: Bindies

When riding on grass, be careful of bindies, especially during spring and summer seasons. Keep vigilant, and if you suspect that your dog has got a bindy, give the relevant commands to safely stop, and hop off the bike to check your dog’s paws. (See Chapter 12: In The Park Using The Recall Lead for info on the Ancient Art Of Bindy Removal.)

Get Off The Grass!

If your dog gets bindies more than just the once during an off-road session, it’s time to get off the grass and hit the concrete again.
 

Getting Used To The Equipment

As wheeled equipment makes noise while moving, it might take longer for your dog to get used to it - and therefore more patience may be required from you.

How Long Will Desensitisation Take?

My dog Jasmin literally took minutes to get used to the wheeled equipment I introduced her to. But all dogs are different, so yours might take minutes, weeks, or months to get accustomed. Remember:

  • Remain composed and relaxed.

  • Take your time.

  • Have plenty of treats on hand and use them liberally.

  • Be generous with praise when your dog shows calm behaviour.

  • Ignore any fearful behaviour.

How Long For Each Stage?

Your dog may take anywhere between a few minutes to a few weeks to go through each of the below stages, so be patient and allow your dog to progress at his or her own pace. Repeat each stage as many times as necessary until you think your dog is ready to move forward to the next.

One At A Time

Although I talk about all the equipment together in the below
instructions, you must tackle
one piece of equipment at a time.
 

Desensitisation Plan For Wheeled Equipment

To start off with, use Stages One to Four of the desensitisation plan for the treadmill. A brief recap:

Stage One: In Plain Sight

Have the equipment in plain sight, supervising to make certain that the dog doesn’t think it’s something to chew on or mark as territory. Give treats and praise for being inquisitive and having good manners.

Stage Two: Sit (You, That Is, Not The Dog)

Sit on the floor next to the equipment. Give a gentle pat for relaxed behaviour, and give treats and quiet praise to your dog for being calm.

Stage Three: Training The Dog Next To The Equipment

Take your dog out for a short walk and once back home, walk as close to the equipment as you can to do a few minutes of basic obedience training using treats.

Stage Four: Move, Baby, Move

You’ll need another person to help introduce your dog to the equipment while it’s in motion. First put your dog on lead and go for a short walk. When you get back home, keep the dog’s lead on, and get your friend to roll the equipment around while you do a few minutes of obedience training with your dog using treats.

Stage Five: Taking It Outside

For this you’ll need your friend to roll the scooter or bike as you all go for a walk. If your friend is game, he or she can progress to riding the scooter or bike as you walk along with your dog. When you feel the dog is ready, swap so that your friend is walking your dog while you ride alongside on the bike or scooter.

Unless your friend has your exact foot size, when it comes to the skates your friend will be the only one walking the dog while you skate.

By the end of this stage, you should be able to take your dog out on your own with whichever of the wheeled devices you’ve been working to accustom your dog to.

Maintenance

Keep your equipment maintained so it’s in tip-top condition:

  • Scooters will eventually need their wheels replaced.

  • Inline skate wheels need regular rotation and eventually (once they’ve had it) replacement.

  • Bikes, like cars, need air in the tyres and regular tune-ups.

Helmet

Always wear a helmet when you scooter, skate,
or cycle. Buy a good quality one from a bike shop.

 

Hands

Use wrist guards for skating and a pair of bike gloves for the bike and scooter. Buy the former from skate shop and the latter from a bike shop.

Feet

You obviously won’t need shoes for skating, but use a pair of sturdy sneakers for when you scooter and cycle to provide some protection for your feet. I use the same sneakers as I do for walking.

What About Open-Toed Shoes In Warm Weather Instead Of Sneakers?

In a word: no. In more words: open-toed shoes are not protective enough. Closed shoes - specifically sneakers - are the only shoes to wear while scootering and biking.

And if the weather is so unbelievably hot that the thought of closed shoes is unbearable, that’s still no excuse for wearing open-toed shoes because you shouldn’t be taking your dog running in such weather anyway. Wait until the sun is low and the temperature decreases, or find cooler ways (eg. swimming or treadmilling indoors with a fan on) of exercising your dog.

The Harness

Your dog should wear a robust, well-fitted harness (but
not a front-attaching one) when you scooter, skate or cycle.
Use the same one that you use for the recall lead.

 

Why No Head Halter?

Even at moderate speeds you (obviously) go a lot faster on wheels than you do on foot, so using a head halter could result in neck strain if your dog pulls. So NO head halter when using wheeled equipment.

Attaching Yourself To Your Dog Using Scooter And Skates

While scootering or skating, attach your dog to you using an adjustable lead attached to a springy extension called the EzyDog Mongrel Extension. Then attach the springy extension to the dog’s harness.

While the adjustable lead keeps your dog safely attached to you, the springy extension reduces the impact on your balance of any pulling your dog might do.

Scooter: Lower Back Care

On a scooter you (of course) need to have both hands firmly on the handlebars. Create a little slack in the part of the lead between your waist and the handlebar so that if your dog pulls, your back is not pulled with it.

Skates: Lower Back Care

When skating, keep one or two hands on the lead with some slack between your waist and your left hand (the hand closest to the dog). This will create a buffer for your lower back if your dog tugs.

Extra Note On Lead Slack For Skating

Position your hands on the lead to create enough slack for the side-to-side arm motion required to skate, without yanking at the dog each time your arms move to the right.

The Slack In The Lead And Your Balance

Besides being important for lower back care, the slack in the lead also helps you keep your balance.

While a tug on your hand or the handlebars could be managed if your core is steady, a tug at your torso is likely to throw off your entire balance. This is because what keeps you steady while on wheels is, by and large, your core strength. The slack in the lead is such an important part of the equation because it’s that slack that acts as a buffer between your torso and any pulling your dog might do.

The WalkyDog

You won’t need the adjustable lead to attach yourself to your dog during a bike ride - that’s what the WalkyDog is for.

Don’t Attach The Lead To The Handlebar!

Attaching a lead to the handlebar will make you very vulnerable to accidents. The best place to attach a dog to is to the most stable
part of the bike - the part where you weigh it down - and that’s
exactly where the WalkyDog attaches: just under the seat.

 

What Does The WalkyDog Do?

  • It attaches the dog securely to the bike without the need for any other attachment.

  • The spring inside it counteracts some effect of any pulling your dog might do.

  • It keeps your dog a safe distance from the bike (but, of course, your close vigilance is also required) and in a position where you can keep an eye on him or her.

The WalkyDog is simple to install. Even better, when you need to bike without your dog, the part of the WalkyDog that sticks out detaches easily from the bike.

The Kickstand And The WalkyDog

NEVER leave a dog attached to the bike via the WalkyDog
with just the kickstand holding the bike up. You must hold
the bike up with your hands too, otherwise a tug from
your dog can topple the bike and injure him or her.

 

Detour: Why Attach At All?

If being attached to a dog while you’re on wheels creates potential problems with balance, why not allow your dog to run free as you ride? Four reasons:

  • It’s illegal to have your dog free on a shared pathway or footpath as they are on-lead areas. That should be convincing enough but, if not, there are the following reasons too…

  • It’s dangerous for your dog (and for other people on wheels) to allow him or her to wander haphazardly along a shared pathway or footpath.

  • In any city or suburbs setting, roads are always too close by and while riding you simply won’t be able to focus enough on your dog to keep him or her safe from potential harm from traffic.

  • Your dog will be able to go to the toilet whenever he or she wants to, and you won’t be there to pick up…and if you read Chapter 5: Water In Water Out...Food In, Food Out you'd already know how I feel about that. (But in case you’re not sure, let me make it crystal clear: I believe that people who are selfish, lazy, and irresponsible enough to leave their dog’s poo behind for others to step in should be made to tap dance barefoot in a room that’s corner to corner dog crap…for two hours non-stop. Just to remind them how unpleasant it is to step in dog poo so that next time they'll pick up after their dog.)

Double Detour: Won’t Obedience Training Help?

Why aren’t I suggesting that obedience training solve the issue of making sure a darting, lunging, or pulling dog doesn’t drag you over when you’re on wheeled equipment? Won’t a dog heeling by your side while you’re on wheels mean you won’t have to worry about all that?

Well, no, not really. Unless you happen to be doing your obedience classes on wheels, your dog learns how to heel by your heel - not your wheel. (Which is why, out of interest, the command is named heel: the dog uses your heel as a marker to walk next to.)

Sure dog who has basic obedience training will help in all circumstances, including when you’re on wheels. (And frankly, if you can’t control your dog on foot, you’ve got no chance while on wheels.) So, yes, obedience training is an important part of safety, but not a total solution: using the right equipment, keeping your wits about you, and going at a moderate pace are the other parts of the safety equation.

Dog Booties

Regularly running your dog might mean investing in some dog booties - it all depends on what your vet says is best for your dog’s paws.

The vet will take into consideration all factors (including frequency and length of rides, and any previous paw problems) and give their verdict. If your vet says your dog should wear booties when running while you ride, this section is for you.

Booties For Protection Against Hot Concrete?

One reason NOT to use booties is to protect your dog’s
feet from hot concrete. That’s because if the weather’s so
hot that the ground burns, you shouldn’t be out running your
dog at all because it’s too hot. Wait until the weather cools.

 

Where To Buy Booties

Search the Internet for dog booties that are made solely for practical purposes - not booties that are more about looking cute than protection. Show your vet the websites with the different booties available and get their recommendation as to what style they predict would be best for your dog's foot.

Fitting Booties By Mail

Measure your dog’s foot carefully as per the instructions on the website. Once you receive the booties, initially try them on inside the house only so that there’s no risk of damage from outside wear. That way you’ll be able to return them and do a swap if you measured incorrectly and they’re not the right size.

Doggie Socks

A dog wearing booties should also wear socks for added comfort. You could try socks for human babies or children (depending on how big your dog is). Or you could buy buy special doggie socks - places that sell booties usually sell the socks that go with them too.

When It Comes To Dog Booties...

Even with my limited experience, and there are important things I know for sure about dog booties which I’ll now share with you:

  • There’s a definite skill in attaching booties to a dog’s paws (which I haven’t mastered), but the most important rule to adhere to is to only move your dog’s leg in directions natural to him or her. In other words, no twisting of the feet or legs from side to side, just up and down motions.

  • I recommend that you put your dog’s harness on and attach him or her to you via an adjustable lead before putting the booties on. Dogs are generally not big fans of having anything on their paws and many will resist wearing shoes. Attaching your dog to you will help you keep your dog in place while keeping both of your hands free to put the booties on. (Adhere to the Hands Always On Adjustable Lead Rule by sitting on the lead - your weight will prevent your dog's movements from pulling at your lower back.)

  • Booties should be tight enough so that they don’t fall off, but not so tight that they cut off your dog’s circulation. Get your vet’s advice as to exactly how tight your dog’s booties should be.

  • Dew claws can get caught while you’re slipping socks and booties onto your dog’s front paws. To avoid this, buy cohesive bandage from your vet and lightly tape down the dew claw. (And it must be cohesive bandage so that it comes on and off easily without sticking to the dog’s fur.) Get your vet to show you how to use it properly, because you can easily put cohesive bandage on too tight and cut off your dog’s circulation.

  • If your dog can’t walk with a normal gait while wearing booties, he or she won’t be able to run with a normal gait while wearing booties. The result? Injury. Be sure your dog has a normal, relaxed walking gait while wearing booties before running your dog while you ride.

Desensitisation Plan For Dog Booties

With some work and a touch of luck, your dog will hopefully cotton on to the fact that when the dreaded booties go on, it means that fun times are ahead.

Know, however, that because dogs generally don’t like their paws touched (let alone have something attached to them in the form of shoes) the process might be a long one. Be patient. And, as usual, be generous with both treats and praise for calm behaviour.

Here’s the plan:

  • Pre-desensitisation desensitisation: get your dog used to his or her paws being touched before attempting to put booties on. Spend time lightly stroking and gently squeezing your dog’s paws while you’re giving your dog his or her daily dose of affection.

  • Supervise your dog as he or she sniffs the socks and booties. Give a treat for calm, well-mannered sniffing.

Before any of the below steps, put a harness on your dog - even if you’ll not be using the wheeled equipment at that stage - and attach your dog to you via an adjustable lead (remember to sit on the lead). Oh, and remember that in the below instructions when I say “booties” I’m also assuming the use of cohesive bandage and socks.

  • Put a bootie on one of your dog’s paws and give a treat. Do the same with the next three paws, giving a treat after each paw. Take off the booties straight away.

  • Do the same as above and give treats as you walk your dog on-lead around the house for a minute. Give the dog one last treat and take the booties off.

  • Continue as in the above point, but for two minutes. Then for three, four, and five minutes.

  • Once you’ve reached five minutes - and as long as your dog is walking comfortably with a normal gait - he or she should be ready to wear booties outdoors.

Which Paw First?

I’ve heard two different versions of how to best put booties on your dog.

One works diagonally:

  • One front paw.

  • Diagonal back paw.

  • Other front paw.

  • Remaining back paw.

The other goes from back to front:

  • One back paw.

  • The other back paw.

  • One front paw.

  • The other front paw.

Ask your vet which they think your dog might best respond to.

Out Straight Away?

Instructions that come with some booties tend to advise that you go outside straight after putting the booties on. The philosophy behind the idea is a sound one: your dog will immediately associate the booties with outdoor adventures and feel positive towards them.

I agree that it’s a good idea on that level, but I prefer the bit-by-bit method for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a gradual process, which I’m always a fan of. And secondly, it’ll keep the booties in good condition in case you have to return them for any reason at all.

Detour: Will Some Dogs Never Find A Bootie To Suit?

Jasmin has the ability to get used almost anything within seconds. But she hasn’t yet found booties that she can walk normally in. (She’s always been hyper-sensitive about her paws since I adopted her as a two-year-old, and while we’ve worked on this issue and she’s greatly improved, she’s still very paw-sensitive).

So far we’ve tried six styles of booties, all with varying degrees of failure. But don’t let Jasmin’s bootie problems discourage you! From customer reviews I’ve read, it seems that many dogs don’t mind booties (some dogs reportedly love wearing booties). So hopefully you’ll have more luck with your dog than I’ve so far had with Jasmin.

If we find booties that Jasmin copes well with, we’ll give them a try. In the meantime, Jasmin's on vet’s orders to stick with running on concrete for a daily maximum of half an hour - any additional running is to be done on grass or dirt.

Flat Terrain

I only ride on flat ground, and any inclines or declines I encounter are minor and incidental. I advise you to do the same. The reasons are:

  • Your dog will be much faster uphill than you’ll be. If you start getting dragged and lose control, you could end up flat on your face.

  • While a bike’s brakes will be effective on a decline, you can quickly pick up a huge amount of speed going downhill on scooter and skates, and neither have the kind of brakes that give you really good control over your speed.

On The Topic Of Terrains…

Pavers are a nightmare for scooter and skates. I’m specifically
referring to straight-edged pavers (jagged-edged ones are quite
safe to ride on). They’re a danger because the grooves cause
quick, involuntary changes to the positioning of your wheels,
which throws you off balance. Avoid them at all costs!

 

Aren’t Big Hills Better For Weight Loss Because They’re Harder?

Muscle burn doesn’t always necessarily mean fat-blasting. If your goal is to get trimmer as you exercise your dog, the thigh burn of going up hills might feel like it’s doing more than riding on flat terrain, but for the purpose of slimming, it won’t get you to where you want to go.

What you want to aim for overall is a moderately physically taxing workout that you can cope with daily and for the long term. What you don’t want is a workout which is so difficult that you consistently pike out of doing it: I mean, what’s the use of a tough workout if you rarely do it? Better to have a challenging but moderate one that you stick to. And same for your dog.

Where NOT To Ride

Ride on shared pathways and footpaths, NOT on the road. To begin with, you should teach your dog to stay off the road, not run around
on it! And secondly, riding on the road with your dog is not only
illegal, but very dangerous and therefore unbelievably stupid.

 

 A Civilised Pace

Roaring around at high speed along footpaths and shared pathways with your dog not only endangers you, your dog, and others, but could also result in the banning of wheeled activities with dogs on footpaths and shared pathways.

Think I’m being dramatic? Well, you’re wrong.

It happened recently at Centennial Park in Sydney. Because of idiots racing around the bike track at high speed (and these hoons were without dogs I might add), no one is allowed to run their dog using wheeled equipment there any more.

The rangers are doing what they can about controlling people’s riding speed, but for now all they can do is try to keep dogs safe. Unfortunately, this has meant banning dogs from running next to wheeled equipment. So, yes, it can happen.

Give Way

You, as the person on wheels, must give way to those on foot - pedestrians have right of way on shared pathways and footpaths.
 

Detour: On The Subject Of Giving Way…

Whether on a footpath or shared pathway, if you stop to chat with someone, take yourselves off to the side so that you don’t get in other people’s way.

In the early days of adopting my first dog, Jake, I had no clue about pathway etiquette and once got told off severely for stopping on a shared pathway to talk to someone. Although we weren’t taking up the whole path, this woman still thought we were a nuisance and told us off. And rightly so. We should have stepped off to the side to natter and not blocked any of the pathway.

Stay On Your Side

Whether on wheels or on foot, show courtesy to others by
keeping to your side of the shared pathway or footpath.
Your
side will vary depending on what country you're in - here in
Australia it's the left side (just like with cars on the road). If
you're unsure, check with seasoned wheel-users to find out.
 

Setting The Pace

Allow your dog to set the pace. Your dog can’t speak to tell you how he or she is feeling, so it’s your job to be vigilant.

If you notice your dog pulling back, he or she may be getting tired, so slow it down. If your dog is pulling ahead, speed up a little (but not too much - remember, it's imperative for safety that you stick to a moderate pace).

What About Me?

What if you feel like you’re not getting the exercise you need because you can’t go fast enough when your dog’s running with you as you ride?

Well, tough luck!

Exercising your dog is NOT about you. Exercising your dog is about just that: exercising your dog. It’s a bonus that you’ll get fitter as a direct result (and I thoroughly encourage that), but you must go at the right pace for your dog’s needs, not yours.

On Your Own First: Learning To Use The Equipment

Develop solid skills in scootering, skating, and cycling
on your own
before taking your dog out with you.

 

Danger Zone

Two things.

One: the smaller you are and the bigger your dog is, the more dangerous it’ll be for you to exercise your dog while you’re on wheels.

Two: the more control you have over your dog on foot, the more control you’ll have over your dog while on wheels.

Scooter First

You want to get your dog used to this new idea of you being
on wheels as he or she runs alongside while using the
safest piece of equipment first. And the safest piece of
equipment is the scooter. Go on to use skates and/or bike

after
first habituating your dog to running next to a scooter.
 

Safety Tips For Scooters

Riding a scooter is pretty straightforward. All it takes is balance and logic. Like I said, of the three pieces of wheeled equipment, the scooter is the least dangerous for you and your dog, but here are some safety tips to make it even safer:

  • Avoid scootering after it rains - the wheels of an on-road scooter aren’t made to ride safely over wet concrete.

  • Place your foot on the ground heel-to-toe rather than slamming your foot down flat as you pull yourself along. This will help protect your foot bones from potentially damaging impact.

  • As you plant your foot on the ground, keep the knee of that leg slightly bent to cushion the shock on your knee joint.

  • As you squat on one leg to take the other foot to the ground, make sure that the knee of the bending leg is tracking properly (ask a physiotherapist if you’re unsure what this means).

  • A scooter can be hard on the thighs because all the pressure is on just the one leg. To avoid creating a muscle imbalance (and therefore potential injury) regularly change legs as you scooter.

Safety Tips For Skates

Of the three wheeled devices, skates are, by far, the ones you have the least control with because you’ve essentially replaced your feet with wheels. If you’ve never skated before, half a dozen lessons or more with a professional skating teacher and a lot of practice (especially with stopping) before taking your dog with you is absolutely essential. Here are my safety tips:

  • Watch your stride if your dog is running right next to you. If your dog is running slightly ahead you’ll have plenty of room to swing your feet out, but if he or she is directly to your left or slightly behind, keep your strides narrow.

  • If it’s just been raining, use your feet to take your dog out, NOT skates. Scooters aren’t great in the wet either, but skates are infinitely worse because of the angled sideways motion you move them in while skating.

Safety Tips For Bikes

If you’ve never biked before, you don’t really need lessons from a professional. You’ll just need some simple instructions from someone who knows how to ride, and - of course - a great deal of practice before taking your dog out with you. My safety tips for bikes are:

  • Stick to wearing tapered pants, as flared ones can get in the way as you pedal.

  • When you encounter a substantial bump or dip, lift your bottom so that it’s hovering a little off the saddle to avoid any jarring impact on your spine.

  • Protect your wrists by keeping a straight line from your knuckles to your forearm.

  • Maintain a tiny bend of a few millimetres in your elbows to keep the load out of the elbow joint. It doesn’t sound like much but makes a huge difference.

  • Prevent concentrating the weight of your upper body into your hands and wrists by lifting up through the chest to maintain good posture.

How Long?

How long you ride depends on what your vet has said your dog is capable of, and on you and your physical capacity. I’ll tell you what I do just to give you some ideas and you’ll see from my explanations below that there’s more than just fitness to consider in determining how long a session should be. Allow your vet’s advice, your experiences, and logic to help decide what’s right for you and your dog.

Scooter Time

Despite my overall fitness, my thighs suffer from the repeated one-legged squatting needed to give the scooter a safe level of momentum. I therefore go scootering for just ten minutes.

Even though I change legs constantly, after ten measly minutes it crosses over from being exercise to just plain torture, and my legs can’t take any more. (Although on a good day, I can make it for fifteen whole minutes!) All I can say is that I hope you have better luck with your thighs than I have with mine when it comes to scootering…

Skate Time

I usually skate for twenty minutes at a time, but not because my thighs can’t take more - this time it’s because of my feet.

I bought good quality skates, and chose the best-fitting, best-feeling skate I could find. Nonetheless, they get extremely uncomfortable after twenty minutes. I suspect that it’s my hard-to-fit very narrow feet that are the problem…but regardless of the reason, twenty minutes has become my limit.

Bike Time

Thigh-wise and foot-wise I can bike for a couple of hours, but bum-wise I need a break around every half hour. Otherwise my butt goes numb.

Like I said before, the vet instructed that Jasmin and her bootie-free paws can run on concrete for a daily maximum of thirty minutes - anything over that I’ll run her on grass and dirt. On these long rides I stop every half hour to allow Jasmin (and Jake too for that matter - he always accompanies us on rides, although not running…as you’ll see shortly…) to have some water and a sniff around, and for me to ward off Numb Bum.

Adventures With The Bike For Dogs Who Can’t Run

There are ways of taking your small or medium (but unfortunately not large) dog out riding with the bike if he or she can’t run due to age, injury, illness, or a special condition.

Handlebars And Carriers Are Not An Option

A dog riding on a bike’s handlebars is incredibly dangerous and therefore incredibly stupid. Don’t even think about doing it.

Putting your dog in a carrier as you ride is also highly un-recommended. Having a dog on your back or (especially) on your front dramatically changes your equilibrium and makes riding any wheeled equipment terribly dangerous.

Small Dog In A Bike Basket

A warm-weather option is to put your small dog into a bike basket. Any bike shop can install one for you when you next service your bike.

Most bike baskets designed for the front of a bike affect the steering. But even if you get one that doesn't interfere with steering, it's still safer for your dog to ride in a basket at the back of the bike.

A basket in the front that doesn't mess with your steering is great for extra storage, but is not for doggies to ride in.

Baskets When You Have Any Size Dog

Whether or not your dog is the right size to ride in a bike
basket, get one anyway as it’s great to use to for storage -
eg. taking extra clothing with you in case you get chilly.

 

Dressing Your Dog For The Basket Ride

The breeze caused by movement while you’re cycling is okay for you, but the dog in the basket gets the cooling effect of the wind without building up body heat from exercising. The solution? Put a t-shirt on your little buddy for basket rides!

Pad The Basket

Use padding so that the basket is comfortable for your dog.
 

Basket Safety Strategy

Attach your dog to the basket at three points of the harness: at the back and on either side. Use three large collars with heavy-duty buckles (available from most petshops) and thread them through the bars of the basket and the harness itself.

Test Drive

Go out for a few rides just with a dog in the basket (ie. no dog running beside you). This is to get used to the extra weight in the back of the bike and to the slight pitching created by the dog moving (even though he or she is safely attached, the dog can still transfer his or her weight from side to side).

Kickstands And Bike Baskets

NEVER EVER leave a dog in the basket with just the kickstand
holding the bike up. If your dog shifts towards the kickstand
side of the bike, the bike is likely to topple over. Always hold your
bike when your dog is in the basket, even with the kickstand down.

 

Baskets And Body Care

I asked my vet if the inevitable bumpiness of any bike ride has an adverse physical affect on Jake while he’s in the basket - either on his spine or his arthritic back legs. The vet’s answer was “no” on both counts.

If your small basket-riding dog has any physical condition, ask your vet their advice as to whether the little tyke should be getting around in a bike basket at all - you want to make sure you’re not doing more harm than good.

The next question I had for my vet was whether or not riding in a basket for an arthritic aging dog like Jake should be factored into his exercise time due to the jolting up and down - the impact of which would be taken mainly in his arthritic back legs.

And while on the subject, I asked whether car rides should also be factored into exercise time for such a dog because he invariably stands up to look out the window during most of any car ride (and, yes, don’t worry, he’s always seatbelted in - but he can still stand to look out the window). His answer to both those questions was “no.”

If your vet thinks that, for whatever reason, a basket is a bad idea for your dog, I’m sure they’ll be happy with the next idea: the doggie trailer.

The Doggie Trailer

Doggie trailers (when searching the Internet, try the words 'pet trailer') can be attached to the back of a bike and, like mountain bikes, these trailers have wheels that can travel over many terrains.

The All-Weather Option

One of the great advantages of the doggie trailer is that it can be used in cooler weather, unlike the bike basket. With some soft bedding and blankets during winter, your dog will remain absolutely comfortable for the entire ride.

Doggie Trailer For Dogs Who Can Run

Use a doggie trailer to your able-bodied dog’s advantage in these ways:

  • Go for a long ride and use the trailer to give your dog breaks. In other words: run the dog for a certain time, then rest the dog in the trailer for the same amount of time, run the dog again, rest the dog again, etc. Do whatever combination you want (as long as your vet approves), but depending on a variety of factors (current fitness level, weather, time available, other types of exercise done that day) you could use ten, fifteen, twenty, or thirty minute intervals.

  • If you have two able-bodied dogs, have one dog run while the other one rides in the trailer. Then swap dogs so that the dog who’s been running gets a break, and the one who’s been resting gets to run. And so on.

I love using the doggie trailer for my dogs. Jasmin alternates between runs and rests and that means I can ride for up to two hours if I want to. Within that time Jasmin gets an hour’s worth of running. And during the ride, Jake is able to survey his kingdom from the comfort of the trailer.

Three Types Of Test Drive For The Doggie Trailer

  • First go for a test drive without any dogs - just you, the bike, and the trailer - to get used to the feeling of the trailer behind you and having to turn a little wider.

  • Second, ride with the dog in the trailer, but no dog running beside you, to get used to the weight of the dog in the trailer.

  • Third, if you have two dogs, take the running dog out (without the other dog in the trailer) so that the running dog gets used to the additional noise of the trailer being dragged behind. (With this last point, I’m assuming that your dog is already accustomed to running alongside the bike. If this is not the case, get your dog used to that before adding a trailer to the equation.)

Seatbelt Your Dog

Doggie trailers have a lead or D-ring attachment. Use an EzyDog Standard Extension (the non-springy extensions) - or two, if you’ve got two dogs in there - to keep your dog seatbelted in the trailer via the harness.

Keep The Trailer Zipped Up

If your doggie trailer, like mine, is permanently housed in
the garage, keep it zipped up while the trailer’s not in use.
Why? Because the trailer is a perfect little cubby house for a
spider to build a home, and you want to deter spiders
from making their home within your doggie trailer.

 

Clip The Zips

Zips of the mesh doors of doggie trailers can be either stitched in (like luggage) or not (like a zip-up jacket).

The safer type is the first variety because you’ll be able to clip the zips together to keep the dog/s enclosed. I suggest this because the first thing Jasmin did when I put her and Jake in the trailer was to unzip the mesh ‘doors’. (I told you she was a master escape artist!)

>>>On to Chapter 15: A Combo Of All The Activities

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Treadmilling dogs
Running a high energy dog using wheeled equipment is the perfect addition to your dog's exercise routine. In cool weather you can do it at any time of the day, but it's not the right type of exercise for the hotter hours of a summer day. On days like that, I stick to indoor walks on the treadmill...

Swimming dogs
...or I might swim the dogs...

Scootering
...and then when the sun gets low in the sky I can use wheels...

Walking the dogs
...or if it's still stinking hot when the sun is low, I just stick to walking!

Ruff Wear Web Master™ Harness
I took this photo indoors in low light to show the reflective strips on the Ruff Wear Web Master Harness. Because of the reflective strips, these harnesses are extra-safe for a little dog in a big city.

Reflective anklets
If you want to make your dogs more visible in low light conditions, get some reflective anklets like the ones Jake (left) and Jasmin (right) are modelling.

Bike helmet
When using wheeled equipment, the helmet is the single most important thing you require. (That and common sense!)

Scooter
Here's the little scooter I use.

with scooter
Helmet and bike gloves on, I'm ready to go scootering! It's essential that you learn to scooter confidently on your own before taking out your dog with you.

scootering with doggie
Notice that Jasmin is to the left with me while I scooter. Just like you should walk your dog to your left, you should also keep your dog on your left when you're on wheels.

Inline skates
My skates.

wearing inline skates
When I skate I still wear a helmet, but instead of gloves I wear wrist guards. It's equally important - if not more - to practise skating without your dog just as I suggested you do with the scooter. Replacing your feet with wheels is rather a risky thing to do, so you must be a proficient skater before taking your dog with you.

Wrist guards
Here's a close-up of wrist guards if you've never seen a set before. The hard part on the wrist joint is the part that will help protect your wrists if you fall.

skating
Here's me skating with Jasmin. Note again that she's on my left, as she always is while I'm on any wheeled equipment.

Cycling with dogs
You'll have noticed a distinct lack of photos showing Jake participating in scootering and skating. The reason is that he's an arthritic little old man and just not able to do the type of intense running that exercising with me on wheels involves. However, when it comes to the bike, Jake can come along in the trailer!

Bucket muzzle
This is a bucket muzzle. If your dog has aggression problems, it's wise to use a bucket muzzle when you're on wheels. It's ESSENTIAL that it is a bucket muzzle and NOT a cloth muzzle as the bucket muzzle allows the dog to pant comfortably, which is extremely important when a dog is exercising.

bucket muzzles
Jake (right) and Jasmin (left) wearing bucket muzzles. As you can see, there's loads of room for a dog's mouth to open so that he or she can pant but not bite.

Cloth muzzle
This is a cloth muzzle. I can't stress to you enough that you should NOT NOT NOT use this type of muzzle while exercising your dog. Have a look at the picture below to see why.

cloth muzzles
Here are Jake (right) and Jasmin (left) with cloth muzzles on. You can clearly see that the cloth muzzle does not allow a dog to open his or her mouth at all, and that's why it's thoroughly inappropriate to use when exercising a dog who has aggression problems. (Cloth muzzles are for short-term use in situations such as during a painful procedure at the vet's where the dog might react by biting.)

Right turn
Jasmin and I have just done a right turn. I recommend that you use a scooter to teach your dog commands for wheeled equipment. The first command to teach your dog is right . First say let's go to take off. As you near the corner, give the command easy as you slow down. A second before the turn, give the command right and praise your dog for turning correctly by saying good right. Then give the command let's go as you move straight ahead.

Left turn
Teach your dog left in exactly the same way as you teach him or her to turn right and (at least initially) on the same block as you teach the right turn.

Walking the dogs
I like to take the dogs for a walk before a session on wheels so that Jasmin can go to the toilet before I run her. (Of course Jake comes for the walk too, even though I don't use wheels to exercise him.)

Water break
Even if I have walked Jasmin before a session on wheels, I'll often give her a breather during. Here's Jasmin being offered a drink on her break from scootering, but showing no interest in it whatsoever.

Taking a break
Jasmin gets a break during a skating session. Notice how one of my skates is on the grass - that gives me some added stability while Jasmin is free to sniff around.

A break from biking and running
Giving Jasmin a break while biking not only means she gets a rest, it also means my bottom gets some relief from the bike seat.

Crossing the road on foot
I cross the road with Jasmin and the scooter on foot...

Walking the bike across the road
...and same with the bike. It's simply the safest way to go across roads when you have a dog with you. Notice there's no photo of me crossing the road on skates - that's because I don't as it's way too dangerous. I know people do it all the time, but even if you feel confident doing it on your own while you're skating, adding a dog to the equation adds an unpredictability (no matter how well-behaved your dog is) that makes it all the more dangerous.

Aero Disc Covers
These wheel covers (Aero Disc Covers) will keep your dog safe from the spokes of the turning bike wheel. I had a hell of a time trying to get some in Australia, but finally a friend in the USA made some calls and got me in touch with Wheelbuilder who happily shipped to me overseas. (You'll notice that the bike photos on this page don't show these discs on the wheels because the photos were taken before I bought the discs.)

EzyDog Mongrel Extension
This is the EzyDog Mongrel Extension - the chunky bit between the two black areas has loads of shock absorption. Be sure that you get the EzyDog Mongrel Extension (as opposed to the EzyDog Standard Extension) for use on wheels. The former is stretchy and absorbs shock, which is just what you need when scootering or skating. The latter doesn't and so is not suitable for wheeled activities, but instead is perfect for on-lead walks.

Preparing the trailer
Using scooter and skates is pretty straight-forward, but there's more to organising a bike ride. Here's my procedure: first, I put Jake in the trailer while Jasmin waits in the house.

Seatbelting dog into the trailer
Next I clip Jake into the trailer using the connection in the trailer.

dog is put into the trailer
Then into the trailer the little man goes!

Dog in trailer
You can see there's a comfortable bed in the trailer and loads of room - it's quite the luxury ride!

Zip up
Although Jake's clipped into the trailer, I always zip it up...

Clip up
...and clip the zips together to ensure there will be no escape attempts.

The WalkyDog
Next it's time to put the WalkyDog on the bike.

WalkyDog
You can see that the WalkyDog is not big or bulky and can be stored in the bike's basket when not in use.

Attaching the WalkyDog
Attaching the WalkyDog is simple. It just clips onto an attachment that stays permanently on the bike.

WalkyDog attached to the bike
This is what the WalkyDog looks like once clipped on. It juts out about a foot to the left of the bike. Now the bike is ready for Jasmin!

Clipping the dog to the WalkyDog
The first thing I do is attach Jasmin to the bike (and therefore to me) via the WalkyDog. Notice how I stand between her and the bike. Although the bike has a very sturdy kickstand, I won't risk Jasmin darting to the left while attached to the bike (you never know when a cat will appear!) and toppling the bike onto herself. Whenever I'm not riding, I always stand between Jasmin and the bike.

Rolling up pants
Gotta roll up those flared pants so they don't get in the way of my peddling. Note, again, that I continue standing between Jasmin and the bike. Safety first - always!

ready to ride
Looks like we're ready...Jake in the trailer - check!...

dog attached to the bike
Jasmin attached to bike - check! My pant legs rolled up - check! Yes, we're ready to ride!

Kickstand up
The kickstand goes up (still with me as a barrier between Jasmin and the bike)...

Cycling with doggie
...and the fun begins - woo-hoo!

Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots™ Skyliner™
Booties are a great idea (if your dog will tolerate them) when taking your dog running using wheeled equipment. Here's poor Jasmin looking very unhappy with her Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots™ Skyliner booties on. If you look carefully you'll see that she'd already managed to take the one off her back right paw (her right front paw is standing on the unattached bootie).

Putting booties on dog
So I put the bootie back on...

dog wearing dog booties
...only to have her try take it off immediately! Yep, Jasmin does NOT like wearing shoes.

Riding on flat terrain
I always ride on flat terrain - any hills I may take on during my travels on wheels are tiny slopes. It's just too too dangerous to be going up and down big hills on wheels when there's a dog with you. Also in this photo you can clearly see the slack between the lead that's attached to my waist and my hand. That slack is important for protecting your lower back when you scooter or skate.

Left-legged scootering
I frequently alternate between my left leg being the anchor leg on the scooter (as above)...

Right-legged scootering
...and my right leg as the anchor leg. Muscle imbalance can lead to injuries, so keep alternating legs when you scooter.

Bike basket
Could a dog possibly be cuter than Jake is in this photo? I don't think so! The first point I must make is that the bike in the photo above is NOT standing up on its own - although you can't see me, I'm holding the bike. This is extremely important because a bike propped up by a kickstand will topple from the dog's weight, so ALWAYS hold on to the bike when your dog is in the basket. Next, you can see that there's plenty of padding underneath Jake, so he's super-comfy. Also, you can't view it clearly, but he's attached at three points: from behind and on either side. Jake's not wearing his Ruff Wear Web Master Harness in this photo - I'd yet to discover this wonderful harness at that stage, but these days you'll never see Jake and Jasmin out of the house with any other type of harness. Now that we have the trailer, Jake always travels in that instead of the basket, but I still find the basket useful for popping Jasmin into it during a ride in certain situations. For example, if we have to cross a grassy area and it's bindie season. Instead of letting Jasmin walk through and get paws full of bindies (as if I'd ever do that!) or carrying her across, I pop her in the basket, secure her in there, and walk or ride the bike across the grass.

Two dogs in the trailer
The great thing about the trailer is that Jasmin can rest in it with Jake. What I usually do is run Jasmin, then rest her in the trailer with Jake, run her, rest her, etc.

Dogs in the doggie trailer
Here they are cosy in the trailer - Jake on the right and and Jasmin on the left. You can see they've got a big fat cushion in there for maximum comfort. Their harnesses are on (as always!), and they're both clipped in.

Calf and hamstring stretch
Even if you have no time for any other stretching, after a session on wheels there are two stretches that you must do to. One is the hamstring/calf stretch I'm demonstrating above for the back of your legs...

Quadricep stretch
...and the other is a quadricep stretch for the front of your thighs. If you've never stretched before, get a fitness professional to show you how to do so properly - you can injure yourself if you stretch incorrectly.

dog in his dog bed
And after a hard day's exercise, the best thing to do is rest. Maybe all curled up like Jake is here...

dog stretched out
...or all lengthened out like Jasmin is here...

Dogs on a banana lounge
...maybe on a banana lounge...

Dogs on a mini-sofa
...or on a sofa...

Dogs in the garden
...perhaps in the garden...

Dogs near the heater
...or in front of the heater...

Dogs in bed
...possibly in bed...

Dogs in a laundry basket
...but anywhere will do - even the laundry basket!

 

SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!

Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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