July 08, 2015 Dogs

Make Your Dog a Triathlete: Biking, Running and Swimming with Dogs, Part I

Biking with a dog

Make Your Dog a Triathlete: Biking, Running and Swimming with Dogs, Part I

On July 19th, the New York City Triathlon will feature athletes biking on the West Side Highway, running in Central Park and swimming in the Hudson River. As part of the weekend activities, canine athletes who have faithfully trained alongside their human counterparts will no longer be left on the sidelines on race day. The 2015 Animal Medical Center Doggy Dash gives man (or woman) and best friend the chance to compete in tandem over a five-mile running course. Each year, about 30 loyal pups and their loving owners participate!

The Animal Medical Center Doggy Dash gives canine runners the chance to compete, but for daily exercise, the three components of the triathlon are good ways for you and your dog to stay healthy together. This week’s blog will feature some tips about biking with dogs. Running and swimming with dogs will post next week.

Biking with Dogs

I have never biked with a dog, so I contacted a friend of mine – a self-proclaimed professional dog biker. He has biked in New York City with up to five dogs at one time over the last 45 years. His advice will be invaluable to someone just starting out biking with their dog.

First, wearing the right apparel is important for both dogs and humans. Since he bikes late at night to avoid NYC traffic, hot asphalt and heatstroke, his dogs wear flashing lights, slip collars and short leather leashes. Flexi-leads and chain leashes are not recommended as they could lead to an accident or injure someone seriously in a crash. He wears light colored clothing, a reflective vest and helmet.

New York City biking presents some challenges.  First, oil slicks on the street.  He uses a mountain bike with wide tires.  In NYC, our bike lanes are on the left, so he rides holding the leash in the left hand and has his really good brake mounted for right hand use, but the dogs have to contend with car doors from cars parking to the left of the bike lane, which could injure the rider or the dog.

In addition to watching out for car doors, he works to train his dogs to run right alongside of his bike, not in front of or lagging behind. Dogs can run faster than you can bike and if they get out ahead could easily pull you over. Let them lag behind and cross over to the right and they could spin the biker around like a top. Other dangers include wildlife, which distract the dogs and may cause them to bolt. In NYC, dogs can easily be distracted by rats or intimidated by police horses. His last piece of advice is to wait until a dog is about a year old to bike them. Heavy exercise in young dogs may lead to orthopedic issues in adulthood and The AMC’s orthopedic surgeons concur on this recommendation.

Stop by The AMC booth at Doggy Dash and say hi! You can meet some members of The AMC veterinary team assigned to monitor the health of Doggy Dash participants. Check back next week for information on running and swimming with dogs.

Tags: amcny, animal medical center, ann hohenhaus, biking, doggy dash, dogs, exercise, NYC triathlon, race, running, swimming, veterinary,

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