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Getting Creative With Off-Season Exercise…

It looks a little silly, but it works well enough.

When I was younger, childless and twenty pounds lighter, I was a fairly active mountain biker, and one of my favorite ways to give my dogs (and myself) a good off-season workout was to load up the dogs and my bike, drive to a nearby public hunting area and let the dogs run beside me as I biked the numerous trails and dirt roads that bisected the area. It was great fun, good exercise and a good way to scout for the following year.

But, of course, things change when you have kids. Personal free time becomes about as scarce as late-season public-land quail. You get slower, more sedate. What free time you do have is largely taken up with your children. And your former, pre-child, mud-slingin’, off-roadin’, pedal-‘til-you-pass out bicycle-riding habits turn into the two-wheeled equivalent of driving the family mini-van to McDonalds.

Goodbye, dirt trails, rock-hopping and abraded skin. Hello long, slow, safe rides around the neighborhood. Which of course, is great fun, but what about the dogs? They want to come along, too. How could I combine roading the dogs with our family bicycle rides? What Rube Goldberg creation could I come up with to accomplish this task?

Off-season conditioning of your dogs is important, and when you’re a parent squeezed for time you’ve got to get creative…

In the end it was simple. I drilled a small hole in the back of my bicycle trailer, snapped a short lead into the hole, snapped the other end of it into the dog’s collar and away we went, me towing the trailer containing a four-year-old and the trailer towing my setter pup, Jenny. It took Jenny about five minutes to get used to the concept and to figure out how to stay at a constant trot. In fact, it worked so well that I now use the bicycle trailer to road my dogs even when I’m not towing a little Love.

Granted, it does look more than a little strange to see a grown man towing an empty trailer attached to a dog. I even had one concerned lady stop, roll down her window and ask why on earth I was dragging that poor puppy down the road. I had to explain that in point of fact the dog was perfectly capable of dragging me down the road but since she loved me she was merely humoring her master’s eccentricity.

 Up went the window and she quickly drove off in a snit and a choking cloud of exhaust. Some people just don’t appreciate outside-the-box thinking, even when it looks a little silly. The late Bob Wehle, of Elhew fame, built a special roading cart pulled by eight or ten of his pointers in harnesses. He even ran his pointers in wintertime sled dog trials. Eventually I’d like to figure out a way to put the dogs in a harness and have them pull forward rather than trot behind, but until then I’ll just go on enduring the looks of those who just don’t understand…

I’d love to hear other unique or innovative ways to combine dog exercise into your daily routines. Any ideas?


2 Responses to “Getting Creative With Off-Season Exercise…”

  1. rottiluv says:

    Well you can buy a Springer bike attachment that does pretty much the same thing, or if you are in an off leash area, just have the dog run along with the bike. Or we go down to the park where he chases the song birds.

  2. Susan says:

    Or you can get into canicross, scootering, but an actual harness fitted for the dog taps into their natural pulling instinct, its great fun..they can actually pull your bike