Dogs are known as man’s best friend, so it’s only natural for mountain bikers to want to bring their buddies along for the ride. Before taking Fido out to the trail for your next ride, be sure to consider these tips for respecting other trail users and your own four-legged friend.
1. Do train and test your dog to make sure he or she is able to obey your commands.Many owners are able to keep their dogs under voice control, though keep in mind that mountain bike trails pose additional challenges. Wild animals, other trail users, and sheer exhaustion can distract dogs that are otherwise very obedient.
We had a dog named Jackson (photos below), and when he was still a puppy we decided to take him with us for a ride. Being naive dog owners, we figured he would just know what to do, but it turned out, he didn’t. He proceeded to run through the woods, cut his tongue on a hidden barbed wire fence, and generally didn’t seem to want to follow us or the trail. Even though we had worked with Jackson through standard obedience training, he still had a lot to learn about trail etiquette.
2. Don’t leash your dog to your bike. Ever. Not only is this dangerous for the rider, it’s also dangerous for the dog. Consider that your dog might dart at a squirrel and pull you over, or that you might jerk your dog down a rock roll he doesn’t see coming up. Bikes have a lot of moving parts too, making any kind of tether–like a leash–a full-blown safety hazard.