Dog cycling / Bikejoring

When cycling with a dog, both the dog and the owner get to enjoy the charm of speed. On this page, you will find information about both the sled sport called dog cycling and cycling with a dog so that the dog jogs with the cyclist.

With the right equipment, a little training and taking into account the conditions, cycling is a great hobby with a dog. It also works as a skill that makes everyday life easier, if, for example, you don't have a car or just like to get around by bike. More and more people also want to take their dog along in their mountain biking or bike camping hobby, or start practicing fast-paced bikejoring, i.e. dog cycling. Many dogs like going fast!

  • Dog cycling / bikejoring

Dog cycling is a team sport where the canicrosss ahead of the bike, pulling it. A dog equipped with a sled dog harness is attached to the bike with a flexible traction cord, and often a forward bike antenna or "antenna" is attached to the bike, which keeps the traction cord up and away from the front tire. Dog cycling is a fast-paced sport that especially requires speed and fitness from the dog. The top speeds of the sport are at their best over 40 km/h, and in dog cycling you can compete up to the World Championship level.

  • Cycling with a dog

The term dog cycling therefore refers to a traction sport, but cycling with a dog can of course also be more relaxed. In this case, the dog usually runs next to the bike, but depending on the situation, the dog can also be taught to run in front or behind.

  • Kickbiking / scootering / scootering / kickboarding

A sport that is close to cycling, with a big-wheeled scooter/scootboard as a passing game. Some people, especially those who are less into cycling, find kicking to be an easier sport than cycling with a dog. Get to know scooters here >

Why cycle with a dog?

For most dogs, the most natural way of moving would be trotting, not walking. Thus, a human's walking or even running pace is an unnaturally slow way of progressing for a dog. With a bike, a person can offer the dog a brisker exercise. It is suitable for satisfying the need for exercise even when the dog cannot be exercised freely due to, for example, game addiction or unpredictability. So cycling is also suitable, for example, for maintaining the basic condition of hunting dogs outside the hunting season.

Is cycling suitable for all dogs?

Cycling is an excellent hobby for healthy and well-built adult dogs. With a young dog that is still growing, you should practice the basic skills needed for cycling and being close to the bike and walking, but you should wait until the dog is fully grown before starting the actual cycling and especially the pulling hobby.

Similarly, the length and speed of cycling with an already aged dog should naturally be related to the dog's condition and health.

Pace with the dog

When cycling with a dog, the cyclist must always adjust his own speed to match the dog's speed. In practice, this usually means that the pedaling pace of the cyclist is very leisurely and the brakes can be used often, except on uphills.

When jogging on a bicycle, it is best to aim for the dog to move forward mostly at a trot. Of course, galloping spurts can also be taken, and many dogs enjoy them, but galloping is more taxing on the dog's body and joints than trotting. The trot loads the dog's body and muscles more evenly, so it's good to focus on that.

In dog cycling, which is also known as a competitive sport, the goal is to achieve the fastest possible time, so the sled dogs usually advance at a gallop and the cyclist's purpose is to slow the dog down as little as possible - but even the training of sled dogs mostly involves trotting and moving freely.

equipment for dog cycling traildog

Where can you bike with your dog?

Choose calm cycling routes and times suitable for your dog: especially at the beginning of the hobby when overtaking is still under training.

Those cycling with a dog should plan their route so that the dog has a soft and comfortable running surface. Avoid asphalt and big, sharp gravel and direct your runs to dirt roads, outdoor paths and paths. If you can't avoid transitions on a harder surface, try to make use of softer small ones even then.

Soft, not very rocky, paths are also a good running platform for the dog. However, always relate the terrain to your own driving skills. First learn trail riding yourself and only later add a dog to the equation. For example, beginner mountain biking courses serve as a good start for technique training.

Tips for cycling with a dog

  • Getting started:
    • First, get the dog used to just being near the bike, walking and the different sounds coming from the bike.
    • Get the right gear. You can find information about different equipment solutions at the bottom of this page.
  • Be alert and anticipate: "one eye always observes the environment, the other the dog".
  • Give the dog opportunities to relieve himself before cycling and, with permission, also during the run. This is part of anticipation. The majority of sudden stopping situations are related to the dog stopping to satisfy its needs. Sufficiently frequent authorized stops reduce sudden situations.
  • Inform other pedestrians about passing in time. Especially for people with dogs, it's good to always wave that there is another dog coming by in addition to the bike, and give them time to move to the side. A canicrossning past the fence can provoke the dogs it passes.
  • If your dog comes next to you, try to overtake so that the bike is between your dog and those you are passing.
  • Always tell your dog what is happening (turns, stops, etc.) The dog learns to listen and the drive becomes smoother and smoother with practice.
  • Use direction and speed change commands for everyday walks and runs as well: they will get stronger without you noticing.
  • Choose routes where the dog will have as little travel as possible on asphalt or other very hard and rough surfaces.
  • Do not ride your dog when the weather is too warm or the humidity is high.
  • Take care of the dog's hydration.
  • Start and end the run at a more leisurely pace and walk, so that the muscles have time to warm up and cool down.
  • Vary your jogging pace and terrain.
  • Remember to be moderate in the length of the runs, especially at the beginning of the hobby and cycling season.
  • Always monitor the dog's performance. It is better to end the run before the dog gets tired. This way you will have an enthusiastic cycling friend in the future as well.
  • Always wear a helmet!

The right equipment choices reduce the risk of dangerous situations

A leash in the cyclist's hand or in the handle of the handlebars is an unfortunately often seen way of maximizing the risks when cycling with a dog. The user of such a solution usually finds himself sooner or later on the surface of the road. It is pointless to imagine that a person's reaction speed would be sufficient to remove the belt in the necessary hundredth of a second in sudden situations. In addition, a dog that gets loose can run away, get injured and cause dangerous situations for other passers-by.

Although the so-called fastening of the dog a fixed solution for a bike or a cyclist may sound wild at first, but it is actually the safest way to cycle with a dog. In terms of bike control and safety, it is important that the cyclist can keep a firm grip on the handlebars with both hands and focus on driving and observing the surroundings.

The most important safety for cycling with a dog is always anticipation. In addition to that, however, there is equipment suitable for cycling with a dog, which reduces the risk of dangerous situations. These include, for example, the elastic harnesses that go around the cyclist's hips, the so-called dog harness stands (i.e. "springers" pointing to the side) or bike antennas (i.e. flexible "antennae" pointing forward).

The choice of equipment is influenced by whether the dog is supposed to run in front of the bike, on the side or perhaps even behind it. The most common way to ride a bike with a dog is for the dog to run alongside the bike. In bikejoring, i.e. dog cycling, the dog is always ahead of the bike.

When the dog is attached to a bike or cyclist, it is absolutely important for ergonomics that there is a flexible cloth or elastic piece in between. The function of the elastic is to dampen jerks directed at both the dog and the cyclist. The dog should have a well-fitting harness that does not strangle or limit the movements of the legs. Read more about various harnesses and their fit here >

Different ways to cycle with your dog

Cycling with a dog next to the bike

+ an easy way to start cycling with a dog
+ the dog is close and can also be controlled physically
+ a well-fitting so-called everyday harness (preferably Y-shaped)

- the dog's running can become crooked, especially if the dog is careful of the wheel or the running side is always the same
- "wide transport" does not fit very narrow paths

Equipment for running on the side

  • Pelvic thruster
    In the simplest fastening solution, the dog is attached to a flexible leash around the cyclist's hip. It is important for the reins to be under the cyclist's hips and not above the waist, so that possible jolts do not affect the back. It is good for the leash to be short enough that the dog cannot go around the front of the bike and the leash does not get tangled in the pedals. Tangling is also reduced by the fact that the belt starts from the hip directly to the side and not straight forward, as in e.g. the canicross belts used in canicrossning.

    One of the best aspects of the harness on the hip is that it is easy to so-called with the dog. get off the bike. It is also multi-purpose and requires no installations. A popular hip support for cycling is Ruffwear Roamer Bungee Leash shorter version. In addition to the adjustable, quick attachment, it has a jerk-absorbing spring and a handle, which can be used to hold the dog close by, e.g. when passing. The leash is also easy and quick to wrap completely around the cyclist's hips when the dog is not attached to it.

  • Dog jogging stand (more familiar springer)
    to Springer is called the so-called lateral flow stand. This is a traditional model, where the spring of the stand itself absorbs jerks. The side running stand is well suited, for example, for those cycling with a dog on busier roads, as the dog stays very close to the bike. However, it takes up space laterally, so it is not suitable for narrow paths.

  • bike antenna that can be turned from the front to the side
    Some of the drive adapters can also be mounted or turned to the side of the bike. Such a bike antenna is, for example Kainpo Combi Plus . More about bike antennas below.

  • Strap attached to the seat post
    This solution works well in the so-called as a temporary solution and is always better than a handlebar in the hand of a cyclist. For example, you can double up a normal harness or a flexible drawstring to make it shorter to fit. As it is short, the strap does not get tangled in the pedals so easily. In this way, the dog is attached to a point where there is a lot of mass (the cyclist sitting on the saddle), so the lateral movements of the dog cannot affect the balance very easily.

Cycling with a dog in front of the bike / dog cycling / bikejoring

+ the dog can choose its running line more freely than running next to it
+ the running position stays straight more easily than when running on the side
+ also works on narrow mountain biking trails
+ the dog can get pulling help (if the dog pulls, it should have a pulling harness)
+ in the hobby of dog cycling, you can also progress to sledding competitions

- requires little traveled routes and a lot of skill training

Note: Does your dog already know directions? Does your dog know how to be indifferent to other people moving around and overtake? The basics of drag sports are the easiest to teach canicross before switching to dog cycling. 

Equipment for running ahead

  • bike antenna
    As a bike antenna is called the flexible and forward part on the front of the wheel, the so-called antenna. It is intended for cycling, where the dog moves ahead of the bike, usually pulling. The bike antenna holds the traction cord up so that it does not get tangled in the front tire of the bike even if the dog slows down. This increases security considerably.

    The spring in the bike antenna is flexible so that it follows the dog's movements. However, the spring itself is not made to withstand a pull, so the bungee line should ALWAYS be attached around the frame of the bike (or to the loop in the bracket part of some adapter models). So the belt is never attached to the pulley at the end of the antenna, but to the wheel. With the bike antenna, you should use a flexible one that stretches to about 2.5–3 meters pull cord .

    There are different drive adapter models, because the wheels also differ from each other. We have several different adapter models in our selection, including those that fit a modern mountain bike/full-suspension bike/fat bike. The drive adapter is most often installed either around the frame of the bike or around the neck tube - depending on the design of the bike and the adapter model. There are also handlebar mount adapters available.

    Check out the drive adapter selection guide here .

  • sled dog harness
    The dog in front of the bike must definitely have a harness - the pulling dog must have a harness intended for pulling sports . The collar should never be pulled, even for an experiment. Well-fitting sled dog harnesses direct the pressure of the traction to the dog's chest, away from the throat. Read more about finding the right harness in our fitting guide .

  • Flexible drawstring
    The competition rules serve as a good guideline: in dog cycling, stretched to the full extent pull cord must be at least 2 m and at most 3 m measured from the back of the dog to the front of the wheel. It is forbidden to have any kind of metal hook or metal ring on the end of the bungee line on the cyclist's side.

Cycling with a dog behind the wheel

For dogs who enjoy mountain biking, it can be reasonable to also teach them to run behind the bike untethered. Especially when mountain biking on very narrow and very uneven trails, this skill can come in handy.

+ physically more ergonomic / safest in challenging terrains (no jolts or risk of bumps)
+ the cyclist can choose his route without having to watch out for the dog
+ makes it possible to walk very technical trails with the dog

- requires particularly good control over the dog without physical contact
- the dog must be indifferent to other passers-by and animals

Moving to the back and following there is easiest to practice first by walking on the paths or at a walking pace, with a separate command.

Even if the dog comes freely behind the bike, the leash should always be quickly available, e.g. for bypasses. The above-mentioned harness that fits the cyclist's hips, suitable for side running, works for this. The dog can also wear a combination collar and leash around its neck. Such a product is e.g. NiteIze Raddog collar, with a short leash that rolls out from the inside if necessary, so the dog can be connected in a flash when necessary.

For a dog coming behind the bike, it is practical to be aware of e.g. a vehicle, the sound of which the cyclist knows the dog is keeping pace with without constantly blinking.

Following behind the bike is a partially trainable skill, but of course not suitable for all environments and for all dogs.

Dog cycling competitions

Join the competition in dog cycling? In Finland, sulla country sled dog sports competitions are organized in spring and autumn. Summers are the vacation and basic fitness season for sledding athletes, as the hot weather is not suitable for sledding sports.

Competition routes in dog cycling are usually biting tracks and are approx. 5-7 km long. According to the rules, the dog must go the entire distance ahead of the cyclist.

In competitions under the Finnish Harness Sports Association, the International Harness Sports Federation is used IFSS competition rules . National rules supplement the IFSS rules in national team sport competitions and SM competitions. You can find information about upcoming dog cycling competitions here: Luge sports competitions and events . In competition announcements, the category abbreviation for the dog cycling series is DBM / DBW (dog cycling men / women).