From March 23rd to May 1st, I am at Quadra Island Bike School for a mechanic course that covers pretty much everything that a bicycle has in it or on it.
Cyclists and dogs sometimes have a very wary relationship, bordering on hostile. This is, I believe, largely because irresponsible dog owners do not control their animals and don’t socialize them around bicycles. Nor do they train them what to do when near a bicycle.
Certainly, one can socialize their dogs around cyclists and bicycles, but for the people who want their dogs to bicycle with them and not be the dogs cyclists love to hate, I have an idea:
The Dalmatian Club of America has a Dalmatian Road Trial (DRT) certification for Dalmatians who are trained to work with and around horses.
The above page states:
A Dalmatian Road Trial is a performance event designed to evaluate the Dalmatian’s ability to “coach”, or follow the horses. Exhibitors compete as handler on horseback or in a horse-drawn cart or carriage, with dog(s) off leash…. Road Trials demonstrate Dalmatians’ ability to behave in public places, such as riding trails, in the presence of other dogs, in a manner that will reflect positively on the sport and on purebred dogs.
I’d like to develop something similar for all dogs in regards to bicycles. While today’s dog may go its whole life without seeing a horse, most dogs regularly see bicycles. Bicycles can also be a good source of exercise for a well-trained and -controlled dog.
While not everyone will be comfortable letting their dog off-leash for this kind of activity, the rules of a DRT could be adapted for bicycle use. Training a dog to stay within a safe distance of the bicycle, to stay, to sit, to come to the bicycle, to keep speed with the bicycle for an appropriate distance are all useful behaviours to shape in your dog.
For people who like to bicycle with their dogs off-leash, these behaviours become even more important. How does your dog react when biking around other dogs, other people, horses or wildlife? It’s better to teach and proof your dog before you do serious mountain biking with him or her.
Shibas often don’t bicycle with their people due to their size and lack of concern about pesky things like ‘command’, but Tierce sometimes comes with me if I’m going somewhere on a bike. He’s decent at trotting along, but his limit is around 10K, which means if I want to go somewhere farther or faster, it’s the bike trailer for him.