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Follow these 61 points and you can’t go wrong.
1. The Springer is designed to safely exercise your dog with your bike.
2. Socialize your dog to the environment before training.
3. Dogs with a calm temperament and predictable behavior are great on the Springer.
4. Dogs of two years of age or more are the best candidates for Springer training routines but rock steady younger dogs are also a good match.
5. Vet-check your dog for health and fitness levels before starting the training routine.
6. Inspect the dog’s feet each time you go out, particularly if they have soft pads and are not used to walking on hard surfaces.
7. Clip the dog’s nails short, don’t expect the abrasion with the road to wear them down as this can cause pain and discomfort for the dog.
8. A good quality harness with a side clip is highly recommended over a collar.
9. Use a rope lead rather than an elastic lead for the safety of your dog and to prevent the dog from crossing in front of the bike and causing an accident or injury.
10. Start with a short rope that can be lengthened when your dog is fully trained to the Springer.
11. Allow the dog to sniff the bike and become familiar with the bike.
12. Ride the bike and move it around the dog to allow the dog to hear the noises and become used to the motion.
13. Lift the bike over the dog until he or she is very comfortable.
14. Check your bike for mechanical problems, safety reflectors and gear as well as properly inflated tires.
15. Make the first trip very short and positive.
16. Walk your dog on a soft, natural surface such as a park, football field or bike path.
17. Only keep the pace at a walk until your dog is trained then gradually increase the speed and distance.
18. Avoid hard surfaces such as sealed roads as they can damage joints and ligaments.
19. Look for distraction free areas where your dog will focus on the bike and on learning the commands.
20. Start slowly, this cannot be stressful enough. Teach the turn, stop and pull commands as early as possible.
21. Cue the dog with your left leg as well as a verbal command for turn. Turn 180 degrees until the dog has mastered the concept.
22. Only go as fast as needed to keep going forward. You should easily be able to stop within one meter.
23. If the dog changes directions suddenly, and they very likely will, use the tension on the lead and harness to train your dog as to the range of motion they have.
24. Stop by giving a verbal command and bringing the bike to a full and complete stop.
25. Pulling forward allows greater cardio exercise. Reward the dog for running forward and pulling the bike, don’t pedal to go faster, rather allow the dog to pull.
26. Faster paces allow for a faster pull and a better cardio workout. Don’t increase the speed until the dog is trained with the basic commands.
27. Always keep both hands on the bike for maximum control and watch your dog to be alert for any direction changes.
28. Don’t try to teach anything else when using the Springer and avoid a lot of corrections that will make a bike ride a negative experience.
29. The “leave it” command is helpful to refocus your dog mentally.
30. Don’t allow the dog to take toilet breaks when training; this is a bad habit that will keep you constantly stopping and starting.
31. Use a predictable ending routine to the ride.
32. Give the dog water, a treat, and a time to rest.
33. Grooming and massaging your dog enhances the dog’s enjoyment of the ride and also allows you the opportunity to check for injuries or sore muscles.
34. The responsibility of the rider is to monitor the dog and stay in safe areas.
35. Watch for any signs of limping or injury and stop immediately.
36. Check your dog’s interest in going out for a ride. Dogs that don’t seem excited may be injured, have a cut on a foot, or simply be a bit stiff or sore.
37. The rider has to be responsible for the dog since a dog will try to keep up even if seriously injured with a torn ligament or a deep cut to the foot.
38. Always carry water for your dog and a collapsible drinking bowl. Provide water if the dog appears dehydrated or if the ride lasts more than an hour.
39. This is a cardio exercise not a muscle building or an explosive type of exercise like tug work.
40. Don’t use weighted vests as they can cause injuries or make injuries much worse with the additional weight on the limbs.
41. Ride as frequently as possible but start out slowly.
42. I recommend starting at five minutes per day and doubling every week up to 20 to 40 minutes. Dogs training for events may be exercised up to 20km but not every day.
43. Stay on soft surfaces for training. Gradually do more roadwork as the dog’s fitness and foot conditioning improves.
44. Always wear protective and reflective clothing.
45. Avoid high traffic areas even with a well-trained dog.
46. Nighttime riding is not recommended since it is risky, the chance of accident or injury is greater and there are more cats and other distractions out at night.
47. Carry a basic safety kit including a tire repair kit, small knife, dog first aid kit, mobile phone, plastic bags for doggy waste removal, and ID for both yourself and your dog.
48. Always let someone know if you are going for a ride and the route you will take.
49. Don’t fall into the same old boring routine.
50. Do the route in reverse, go to a new place, visit a park and stop to play along the ride.
51. A bike rack for your car will allow you take the bike and the dog to new places to ride and explore.
52. Ride through new areas on your own without the dog to check for traffic patterns, dogs on the loose, and other possible safety issues.
53. Take shorter rides and vary the distance on longer rides.
54. Allow the dog to pull and give them a bit of a challenge.
55. Provide lots of praise when the dog does pull and get into the training exercise.
56. Avoid any confrontation with other dogs when riding. This is dangerous for your dog and may also make them less excited about going out next time.
57. Skip bike riding for a day or too. Keep the dog really looking forward to getting out for a run.
58. About one in a thousand drivers will become irritated with a dog and rider on the road. Honking and speeding past usually demonstrate this.
59. Keep your focus; don’t veer off the road or into the gutter and keep on with confidence.
60. If the dog spooks, just keep going, don’t give them a lot of attention as this can actually train them to be afraid of cars.
61. Don’t take rude drivers personally, enjoy your time with your dog and just have a fun!
In Summary – Take it really slow until your dog gets used to being attached to the bike and accepts your leadership and guidance. Then, and only then, should you take your dog to the streets.
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