When it comes to my dog Ru, I’m lucky for a whole lot of reasons: she is (almost) perfectly behaved at my office; she’s happy hanging out in the car alone or outside a store; she always comes when she’s called. But one of her best traits her energy level – an 8 mile hike is no problem, but neither is a lazy Sunday where we never leave the house.
That being said, a dog’s manners are directly connected to the amount of exercise he or she is getting. So many people adopt high energy shepherds or terriers and then leave them home 8 hours a day with only a walk before and after. When a dog is under-stimulated both mentally and physically, he’ll find ways to get into trouble and won’t pay attention when you give him a command. The saying is true – a tired dog is a happy dog.
If you can’t take your pup on a hike or to the dog park every day, even a short bike ride is a great way to burn some energy. But holding a leash or having your dog run next to you without one (except on certain trails) is downright dangerous. I had heard about the Walky Dog Plus bike attachment and figured it’d be worth a try. I ordered it online and then bought Ru a special harness that attached from the top and provided extra padding. The specific one I purchased is the ComfortFlex Sports Harness, which doesn’t rub even on long runs. The Walky Dog Plus bike attachment was easy to setup, thanks to their awesome YouTube videos, although I did needed to remove the rubber padding so it wouldn’t move around.
Ru can be a little skittish, so I wanted to start off slow. I let her sniff the bike a whole lot while I was getting it set up and praised her when she touched it. Then, we harnessed up and I attached the bungie to her. She kept pulling away at first and giving it worried looks, but we just walked up the street at a nice and easy pace with her on one side of the bike and me on the other. Once we got going, she seemed to forget about her nervousness. After walking for fifteen minutes, we began jogging next to the bike. We jogged around for a while and practiced turns. Every time we were about to turn a new direction, I would tell her “this way” just like I do when we switch directions on a walk, so she would be prepared for it.
After half an hour, I decided to take the plunge. Since we were on a bike path, we didn’t have to worry about cars, and we were able to bike nice and slow, up and down the path way. She had no problem at all! I praised her constantly for the first few minutes of the ride, and every time we stopped, she would get super excited and I would praise her even more. When we began to speed up, she had no problem switching from a walk to a trot to even a run. I was blown away by how easy it was and how intuitively she figured out how it works.
Now, a couple of disclaimers here. Ru is still definitely a little scared of the bike. A more confident dog might have gotten over it by now, but even taking these photos, Ru was constantly pulling away from the bike. I think a longer bungie cord would go a long way to making her feel more comfortable (it’d be easy enough for me to add my own extension). Also, you need to be very careful to not take your dog out on hot days because the pavement will heat up and cause light burns and even blisters on your dog’s paws. I’ve heard of a solution called Musher’s Secret which can protect dog paws, but I haven’t gotten the chance to try it yet. For a while, Ru and I were biking to work every day, but I began noticing some raw spots on her paws from the summer heat and stopped. Finally, while the Walky Dog Plus attachment will absorb much of your pup’s random pulls and jerks, you’ll still feel a very strong tug. On our last ride, Ru got spooked by a car door flying open near us, jerked to the sidewalk, making me throw on my breaks, and hit my pelvis hard against the handlebars. Very. Painful. And Ru only weighs 40 pounds, so I’m sure a larger dog could pull even more.
All in all, the Walky Dog Plus attachment has been a great success. It’s hard to say if Ru actually enjoys it, but she always gives me enthusiastic licks when we stop at a stoplight, and it’s an effective way to run your dog hard for a couple of miles. It still doesn’t compare to the utter joy of a game of fetch at the dog beach, but it’s an excellent option.