Even better? It entails more pics of Tally!
We all know that I have a lovable yet highly active mutt:
I’m not 100% sure of what type of mix she is, but the vet and I were both leaning towards Rottweiler and Australian Cattle Dog. I confirmed this notion when I found this picture on the web:
Although these dogs weigh a bit more than Tals, they are definitely her! She sticks her head out like that, flops her ears back in the same way, and even sits on the side of her hip. Identical.
Now that I’ve explained my logic, let me tell you why it matters: Australian Cattle Dogs are herding dogs and are highly active. Not just “go for a walk a day and be okay” type of active; I’m talking all-out crazy level. (They’re also known as “velcro dogs” because of their attachment to their owners, but that’s a topic for a later day!)
Tally has never been a dog that could be walked and be fine with it. If I just walked her, she would bark a lot and get really sassy with anyone that came near me. I realized early on that if she was properly exercised, her bad behaviors went away. Unfortunately, I don’t always love running with her because she is all ADD, and because of leash laws, I can’t let her off leash. So what was the solution?
Enter biking 🙂
I was really nervous to try biking with Tals at first. Like I mentioned, she has the attention span of a gnat and loves to chase rabbits, cats, squirrels, dogs, etc. I was super concerned she would yank me off the bike and I would die. However, she is also incredibly smart and I figured if she wanted me to love her, she would learn! (She knows who feeds her!) So, if you want to teach your dog to run with you while you bike, here are a few tips:
1. Steer with one hand and leave one hand entirely available to your dog. I am right handed, so I keep Tals and her leash in my right hand and steer with my left hand only. Don’t wrap the leash around your handlebars in order to steer with both hands–all it will take is one random dog movement and you’ll crash and burn! It does mean I wear my front brakes down quicker, but it’s worth it.
2. Always keep your leash arm bent. I always have my right arm bent so that Tally can’t suddenly get away from me. If she abruptly jerks, the bend in my arm gives me a bit of room before my entire body is pulled off the bike. More often than not, it’s enough and I can pull her back into place without any damage.
3. Don’t be afraid to bump into your dog. I know that sounds terrible and please don’t call PETA on me! I had a hard time with this rule, but it in the end, it is a good policy. When Tals was first learning, she would veer into my front tire in order to get to something on the OTHER side of the pavement. Of course, I would slam on the breaks and I would get hurt. Finally, I let her run into my tire one time and she was smart enough to never repeat the action again 🙂
4. Don’t use an extend-a-leash. This is definitely a do-as-I-say situation, because I do use an extended leash. However, I like to think I’m a pro and I can work that lock clicker like no one you’ve ever seen! When you’re learning though, it is much better to have a tight reign on your dog. You don’t want them having 2 feet of leash because they will entirely control your movement.
5. Get out of the way of other dogs. This one is tricky. When I see someone else walking their dog towards Tals and me, I always pull my bike to the side of the path and stop. I don’t do this because I have minimal faith in Tals; she is pretty good these days and is typically more focused on her run than on the surrounding animals. However, I’ve noticed other dogs are REALLY entertained and/or terrified by a bike and a dog. Quite a few “behaved” dogs have jumped and lunged at us as we’ve ridden by, and it has definitely led to more than a few crashes. I prefer to be safe rather than sorry on this one.
In the end, the training can be tough, and yes, I’ve crashed multiple times. However, now that Tally is trained, it is so nice to be able to take her out for a 20 minute ride that exhausts her and frees me up for my own workout time. For me, it’s the best of both worlds!