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  1. #1
    Snowjnky McDreamy
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    New question here. How to train a trail dog?

    I just added a new member to our family. His name is Cruz.

    An eight week old male Staffordshire Bull Terrier, not to be confused with a Amstaff or Pitbull.
    I would like to train him to run off leash with me while mountain biking.
    It would only be on shorter rides 8-14 miles and in places that are feasible to ride off leash.
    I was hoping I could get advice on training technique, when I should start and any other advice from riders who have trained their dogs to do the same. Thanks.
    How to train a trail dog?-cruz.jpg

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    Brother Seamus?
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  2. #2
    Team Chilidog!
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    OMG.. he is CUUTE

    Ask Finch Platte.. he's got Endo, the trail dog.

  3. #3
    PMarsh Thumbs Up!
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    My dog is trained to walk off leash, and apparently that translated over to biking perfectly. He will sprint right next to me as fast as I can mash the pedals. Although he does sometimes stop to smell/piss, but catches up.


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  4. #4
    CHOCOLATE NASTIES Baker
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    Get a Bike-A-Buddy.

    We used it to get our dog used to running right along side the bike and now she LOVES to go to Demo with me.

    THE BIKE-A-BUDDY, Bike with Dog, Dog Exercise, Dog Training, Bicycle dog Leash

    Get a harness so if there is a crash or something you don't choke the poor guy out.
    Master of the unintentional track stand.

  5. #5
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    I have a vizsla. Her name is Tika, shown below after a double loop at Demo. I never trained her. She took to being a trail dog our first time out. I biked, she followed. I went fast, she went faster. I tried losing her, she would find me. I can now blast down Sawpit without worry, hearing those jingling dog tags the entire way down.

    I think a lot has to do with the breed; she's a pointer/retriever so she's always looking to return to home base (they're nicknamed 'Velcro vizslas'). Hunters aren't so good; my friend tried taking his shiba inu on a ride and she took off on her own, returning when she damn well pleased.

    One thing I do to keep her hooked is to play hide-and-seek. I'll throw the ball, then hide behind something. She goes nuts looking for me. Call it tough love, but it keeps her homing device finely tuned. She doesn't give up until she finds me.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to train a trail dog?-tika_demo.jpg  


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowjnky View Post
    I just added a new member to our family. His name is Cruz.

    An eight week old male Staffordshire Bull Terrier, not to be confused with a Amstaff or Pitbull.
    I would like to train him to run off leash with me while mountain biking.
    It would only be on shorter rides 8-14 miles and in places that are feasible to ride off leash.
    I was hoping I could get advice on training technique, when I should start and any other advice from riders who have trained their dogs to do the same. Thanks.

    Jesus man, you need more challenges?

    Cruz, middle name Santa. Dogs are so much fun as pets. Make him part of the family with everything you do and little C his master and she'll be that much safer.

    I wish mine had the means to be a trail dog. She has the speed, but too nervous to stay focused (rescue dog, beaten in a previous life).
    -eric-

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  7. #7
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    my vet told me

    1 mile per month of age for the first year

    dont go fast on downhills. this is tough on growing joints

    my 8 month old lab/beagle loves single track

  8. #8
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    If I ever get another puppy,I'll get the Dog Whisperer video. Caesar has the alpha pack leader concept pretty dialed.


    1. Train your puppy or go for a ride. Don't try to do both for a while. Dedicated training rides.
    2. Short rides at first. Dogs can wear out their pads as well as get overly tired. Lots of water.
    3. I used a retractable leash. Amazing how fast it will wrap around the front wheel after touching a knobby. Start off by walking the dog on a leash while walking your bike. Get the dog use to the bike and getting bumped by the front tire when it stops I front or cuts too close. A gentle bump now is better than a trip over the bars later. Don't scare the dog, just let it know it needs to dodge the wheels.

    Ideally,you let the dog runoff leash later. The problemis oncoming traffic. You need to have the dog listen when you call and get off the trail for other riders.

    I see you have a baby. Very important to work on food aggression avoidance. Also, grabbing the dog. Sirius puppy school has good training. I use to tug on the puppies tail,as it spun around to snap at me, it got a dog treat. My dog loved a gentle tug on ears, tail, fur as it knew it was treat time. I could get a soup bone to my 130 lb rottie and pull it from her mouth with two fingers. Usually she got a treat and the bone back.

    Also, socialize the dog. I took my Rottweilers everywhere, including the office. Starbucks is good for people wanting to pet a puppy. Bring a single friend. Puppies are great ice breakers. Don't waste the cuteness.

    Good luck.

  9. #9
    Lightly salted
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    I have a walky dog bike leash my fiance uses for taking our little toy fox terrier around the neighborhood. Puppy gets to tired for trail rides. It works great, only problem is you can't use it with a dropper post!



    WalkyDog Bike Leash | Walky Dog Bike Leash | Bicycle Dog Leash | Bike With Your Dog | Dog Bike Accessory - The Dog Outdoors


  10. #10
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    My dog is the one on top and unless I put a basket on my bike, no trails are in her future. So my post really wasn't helpful at all and now everybody knows I have a dog that will fit in a handbag. This has completely shattered the illusion of being a tough guy. Why did I go showing off like this? Dang!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to train a trail dog?-ginger-molly-1-.jpg  

    They never made the "Slowster"

  11. #11
    Snowjnky McDreamy
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    Thanks everyone so far. The advice is not far from what I assumed. Keep it coming. I am going to try to train this dog well. Last doggy was spoiled

    Paul is your dog on Ginger (after MotorBacon) from Roy's ?
    Brother Seamus?
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  12. #12
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    whoa whoa. How did I get mentioned in this damn thread? sheesh. I must be popular.

  13. #13
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    Yup Chris, your correct. That is Ginger (Ken's dog). We got our dog, Molly, from the shelter at 3 months old. I would have preferred a sportier dog but the wife and daughter went before to pick one out. They showed me this one and i loved the little rat. I think you mentioned motorbacon because you were thinking about house training and cruz eating his own poop. That kind of thing makes me think of him also. We need to figure a gopro mount for Cruz and he can film you ripping it up.
    They never made the "Slowster"

  14. #14
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    GoPro on Thor while attacking giant cats? Look at how vicious Thor is!


  15. #15
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    Cute pup. I am lucky enough to live in the middle of nowhere and very rarely has my dog been leashed up. I have raised her on the ranch I work at and have had her running along/after the 4wheeler I use to get around the property since she was about 3 months old. This is working out well now that I am getting back into biking and she can follow along as well as lead for a change. She loves to run and this is a great opportunity for her to do so.

    As I said I started with the 4 wheeler, but it seems all the same now. At first I held her in front of me on the gas tank while I slowly rode where I was headed. I am not sure she really liked this too much and she grew so fast it didn't work too long anyways. This did get her accustomed to following the roads and trails and when she would run off she would often be waiting at interesctions to see where we would go next. Being patient and encouraging when she slowed down helped, poor black dog in the summer sun. Nowadays she is devoted and will follow where ever even when she looks exhausted and has her tongue hanging nearly in the dirt. She really does love it and I think getting the dog to enjoy being with you along with enjoying the excercise is really imporant. If your dog is fine off leash walking I'd think you should be able to do this if you work at it properly. In time Cruz will notice when you change into your biking gear or get out your helmet and gloves and start to get excited, it is funny to see when it starts. Have fun!

  16. #16
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    Snowjnky!!!

    Your beastie is so friCKiN' cute, congratulations!!!

    As for training, I rescued a border collie cross who'd gone criminally insane from lack of training and having a job to do. I took him all the way from basic obedience to agility work and found that dogs learn really well when training with other dogs in tandem. Our trainer said it wasn't so much as mimicry as it was competing for your attention and keeping his standing in the pack with regards to you. She said it keeps them sharp and I definately found that to be true, at least for the breed I had, so I'm thinking if you could find someone who has a spot on trail dog you could do training rides with, that might really work well.

    Also, not sure how often you encounter rattlesnakes where you are, but I used to do megaroad trips to Death Valley and the Mojave and found there are classes that train dogs on how to handle them... though given terriers were initially bred to hunt vermin, they may be naturals for it

    Whatever else you do, please keep us posted on Cruz's progress!!! I'm really loving this thread!!!!

    tg

  17. #17
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    Know your dog

    Start with the normal routine. Make sure you can communicate and control your dog, minimally the basic commands - sit, stay, come, heel, leave it... you will find these come in very handy when the dog spots a deer/cow/horse or any other trailside distraction. For your dog's own safety, be able to communicate and control as best possible.

    Make sure your dog is fit. Cycling works them hard. Start with long walks in the hills. Leashed and unleashed. Crawl, walk, run, then ride.

    If leashed and under control while riding a bike, I use the one finger technique. My dog is trained to always 'heel' on my left side so even if I go one handed, my right hand is on the rear brake lever. If he chases after something or stops, I can easily let go of the leash. Hugely important if you have a strong dog, the last thing you want is to be pulled into a curb or fire hydrant.

    Bring lots of water. Especially in the summer.

    Know your dog's habits and abilities.

    My dog goes on rides with me quite often. He has never come up lame and I have never come home without him. He absolutely loves going on rides and can handle 20 miles if he gets enough water.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to train a trail dog?-franky-post-ride.jpg  


  18. #18
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    Start slow

    Hike first, then bike. Get your dog used to hiking in the woods before you go biking. I wouldn't even think of taking a puppy younger than 6mo for a ride of any length. 9mo. would be better IMHO for biking as the joints would be that much stronger. The slower pace of a hike will allow your dog to check things out, gain strenght, stamina and trail experience. I'm talking real hikes - at least an hour and 2-4 miles. Double and triple that is much better before starting to ride. If the dog doesn't come to when you call hiking it's definitely not ready for biking. Straying too far(more than say 100 yrds from you) isn't good either. Once you start riding with your dog, go at a pace the dog likes and can keep for the duration of the ride. Slow down if tongue starts to hang out of side of mouth, or you see spittle forming. Heat stroke is bad news. First rides should be on mellow terrain, where you can easily correct bad behavior/avoid crashing into dog/terrain when the dog does something stupid. Go solo. When you have the dog trained solo, add another rider on a shorter ride. The other rider should know what you expect from the dog and be forewarned of what the dog used to do, and how to correct it - as the dog will probably revert a bit. On these 2 rider runs, stay fairly close together(eyesight/100ft) to minimize pack disintigration issues for the dog, but mostly to get familiar with running near other bikers. One other thing: Never ever forget, that because we(on bikes) go faster downhill, it's actually harder for the dog than uphill is.

    My trail dog(the smaller white one):
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to train a trail dog?-amelia-064.jpg  


  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowjnky View Post
    I just added a new member to our family. His name is Cruz.

    An eight week old male Staffordshire Bull Terrier, not to be confused with a Amstaff or Pitbull.
    I would like to train him to run off leash with me while mountain biking.
    It would only be on shorter rides 8-14 miles and in places that are feasible to ride off leash.
    I was hoping I could get advice on training technique, when I should start and any other advice from riders who have trained their dogs to do the same. Thanks.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    All good info so far. I'm going to say it depends on the breed. I have a couple weimaraners that love to follow me. but I have to be going fast enough to keep their attention. They ditch me on climbs - on decents, they just try and keep up.

    But different breeds are different. I've seen many pitbulls on the trail and they appear to make great trail dogs. Your dog will have certain tendencies that other dogs wont. And you'll have to engage your inner cesar milan to work with those tendencies. I dont think there's just one way to train a trail dog.

    Be careful with the paws - especially on downhills and rocky trails.

  20. #20
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    Lots of good points, I skimmed, so I may repeat something but no one's seemed to of mentioned training the dog to be wary of the bike(s). It's all good when their following you at a good lick, but there's a lot to be said for being in complete control of the dog when you stop trailside. I've seen many a dog freeze up when confronted with an oncoming rider on the trail. When riding I believe the dog should be behind the rider(s). Not out front running around with excitement darting all over the place. I started our Chessie at about a year or so. . . she learned quickly to stay away from the bikes, and now if a rider comes up on her she'll just scoot off to the side of the trail and wait for them to pass.

    Teaching her how to drink out of a camelpack hose is good as well. I've taken her on 20+ mile rides and she's been fueled with Clifbars, dog food, and water the whole way. The downsides are that youv'e got to know the dogs limits, they certainly don't. Mine will run herself into the ground.

    All in all having a trail dog rocks! At 6 she's finally starting to slow down and can't hang in the heat as long as she used to - different story if we're in the mountains though! Best of luck!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biking Brazilian View Post

    I think a lot has to do with the breed; she's a pointer/retriever so she's always looking to return to home base (they're nicknamed 'Velcro vizslas'). Hunters aren't so good; my friend tried taking his shiba inu on a ride and she took off on her own, returning when she damn well pleased.

    One thing I do to keep her hooked is to play hide-and-seek. I'll throw the ball, then hide behind something. She goes nuts looking for me. Call it tough love, but it keeps her homing device finely tuned. She doesn't give up until she finds me.

    "Velcro Vizsla" is an understatement. I really wish I could sit on the couch with out our V having to lay on top of me. One nice thing is I am NEVER worried about her running off. we have no gates or fences closing off our back yard from the street/front of house and we live on a very busy street. She has ZERO interest in leaving so we just leave the backdoor open and she runs amok around the house. I also always find it amusing on hikes how our girl will get 50-100 yards uptrail and wait if we get out of her line of sight or come storming back to find us.

    I am happy to see we are not the only ones that play hide and seek with our vizsla!

    -M

  22. #22
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    This may not be much help, but get him into the habit of chasing you. I started in a big fenced yard running around and slowly transferred that to the bike. I found that it became sort of a game and something he enjoyed. Whether it was running or on my bike, he just followed.

    Unfortunately with my pup, as he got older, he gained a few aggression/behavior issues. He'll still chase me but I'm afraid that I may run into another dog or person he may not get along with. I've been trying my hardest to train him out of it, but I'm having a bit of trouble.

    Don't mean to hi-jack the thread, but does anyone have recommendations for local trainers/behaviorists? I've hired one in the past without doing much research and pretty much lost $1000 because of that.. Doesn't help that I'm a college student either..

  23. #23
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    I don't have any recomendations on the trainer/behaviorists, but your location and how far you're willing to drive would help any that do.

    As far as training your dog to drink out of a camelback hose or waterbottle, it's a lot easier if you have another dog that already know how to do this show your dog the concept. Then it's pretty much a one and done deal in my experience. All the dogs I've run into prefer the water bottle.

    Larger dogs, definitely behind you. A small trail dog like mine, I prefer to be in front of me on non-technical, or any "normaly faster" downhills of any length because of the natural speed limiting following imposes. It's also much easier to observe and guage how your dog is doing when following, which is important as it tires.

    Hot days result in hot dirt, which is much harder on your dog's feet. Pumice, and the likes of Sierra granite sand have lots of little sharp edges which are hard on feet.

  24. #24
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    Velcro vizsla is funny. My step fathers Vizsla use to jump in bed, push her back against my body. If I rolled,she pushe up against me. I dropped to the floor a couple of times as she inched me off the bed.

    Good point about hiding from a puppy when they get too far ahead. Reminds them who is the leader. You must be the pack leader.

    Our dogs
    Beagle Has brain mode and nose mode. Brain shuts off and follows her nose if crosses a scent.
    Lab mix. Happy to run. Checks back. Stops to sniff, catches up. He kind of freaks bicycle riders when they go by the house. He doesn't want to chase them, he wants to go with them.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevXR View Post
    My step fathers Vizsla use to jump in bed, push her back against my body.
    I know what you mean.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails How to train a trail dog?-tika-bed.jpg  


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