Are you planning an exciting mountain biking adventure with your pooch? Your dog can be your best riding partner. But before you head for the mountains, make sure your canine companion is ready for what lies ahead.
The wilderness is very much different from the urban environment domesticated pets are used to. You don’t want Fido to run off and get lost or be injured. With that said, here are some essential tips to keep in mind when mountain-biking with your dog.
Train Your Dog
Taking along an untrained dog, off leash, to boot, to explore the wilderness is one of the biggest mistakes any pet owner can make. Dogs are lovable, but they’re not inherently disciplined or behaved. Canine pets are far from the most self-controlled domestic animals.
Your dog may be able to walk in the city without getting distracted, but the wilderness offers a cornucopia of exciting smells, sights, and sounds. Those can entice even the most docile pets. Hence, it’s immensely important to train and desensitize your dog to these distractions.
Before taking Fido mountain-biking, get him used to the wilderness first. Take him on hikes (on leash) frequently, and train him to focus on you. Here’s a useful guide to help you train your pooch to be your best riding partner.
Your furry buddy may not be the only one who needs training. If you’re used to road cycling, you’ll find mountain biking to be a lot trickier. The traitorous terrains, challenging climbs, and dangerous descents will test your skills and endurance as a biker.
That said, make sure to put in as much effort as your canine bud to achieve the level of skill and physical fitness to different terrains. Consider investing in cycling training tools, like a power meter, fitness tracker, bike computer, and training apps, to monitor your performance and structure your training.
Check the Weather
Going out in extreme temperatures is highly discouraged for humans and animals alike. People have apparel that can protect them from the heat or cold, but dogs don’t have that. Their paws can get burned if they walk on hot pavements in high temperatures or get frostbitten in freezing temperatures. Their thick fur coating may keep them warm in the cold (while staying indoors), but on hot days, the temperature can be more unbearable and cause them to overheat.
Always check the weather before taking your dog mountain biking or walking him outside. It’s generally safe to take your pooch outdoors in temperatures up to 68°F. Over that, keep the walk short, and make sure Fido stays hydrated. Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion, like excessive panting, difficulty breathing, and drooling too much.
Letting your pooch stay out at temperatures below 50°F can be risky, especially for certain breeds. If your dog isn’t bred for the cold, better minimize his time outside.
Keep Fido Hydrated
Mountain biking is a physically demanding activity, which means you’re going to lose a lot of water sweating. Dogs sweat only on their pads, but that doesn’t mean they’re not losing water at a rapid pace. Keep in mind that, while you’re cruising on your bike, your buddy is putting work in every step.
Check on your pooch frequently throughout the journey, and stop every once in a while to let yourselves rest and refuel. Observe for any symptoms of dehydration and exhaustion.
Get Your Buddy Microchipped
You’ve all heard the story before. Dog sees a furry small animal; dog runs after it and goes missing. Having your dog microchipped may not ensure that your buddy never gets lost, but it sure does increase his chances of finding his way back to you.
Make sure Fido also has his identification collar on, and if you’re planning to take your dog on many more mountain-biking adventures, consider investing in a pet GPS collar. It will help you keep better track of your beloved pooch whenever you go out.
Pack the Essentials
You can’t go on a mountain-biking trip with your pooch without both of your essentials. For yourself, you need the basics, like a helmet, cycling gloves, water bottle, and a lightweight pack with the rest of your outdoor gear. For your canine companion, remember to pack his own water bottle; some healthy, tasty doggy treats; poop bags; and a leash.
Create a list of everything you need so that you don’t forget anything. Anything you can bring can potentially make your trip so much easier and even save your life in desperate situations. In the great outdoors, you only have yourself and your buddy to rely on, so you may as well make sure you and Fido are as prepared as you can be for anything.