mountain biking with your dog
CaniBike or bikejor is a dog powered sport where the dog is harnessed and attached to the cyclist via a bungee line, on a special bike arm. All abilities of humans and most breeds of dog can participate.
How to CaniBike
5 top tips for beginners
Learning to CaniBike should be really good fun for you and your dog. However you should not be in a rush to train your dog for wheeled events.
Your dog must be 18+ months old to start CaniBike but there is no upper age limit as long as your dog is fit and healthy. The one exception are dogs that are brachycephalic for example Bulldogs, who may struggle with this level of exertion. If you're not sure whether your dog should participate in the sport, please consult your vet for guidance.
Your dog's CaniBike experiences should always be positive so before you hit the trails, read our 5 top tips for CaniBike success below.
Due the speeds which the cyclist and the dog reach, there are special precautions which you need to be aware of. In the UK you are required to have a permit for certain areas if you are training on Forestry Commission land. For more information please contact your regional office>
You will also need personal liability insurance.
If you CaniBike on private land, always get permission from the land owner beforehand.
Your dog must be 18+ months old and have no known health issues. If you have any concerns, please consult your vet for guidance.
Helmet, goggles and gloves are also necessary for the rider and body armour is advised if you are new to the sport.
Get to know your equipment
All you need is a good comfortable fitting harness for your dog, a bungee line, a mountain bike and a bike attachment or bayonet.
Helmet, goggles and gloves are also necessary and body armour is advised if you are new to the sport.
Check out our video below on how your dog's harness should fit.
Equipment will wear with use so get to know your equipment so you can check for any damage before heading out on the trails.
Assist your dog and keep it short
Find an exciting trail such as a single track in a wooded area so your dog has a clear defined path to follow.
When you set off, assist your dog sufficiently but don’t out pedal them so they learn to pull into harness at speed.
When starting any new activity it's important that you and your dog build up your training gradually so your bodies have time to adapt to forces being placed on it. We recommend that you start with a short interval of 200m.
You can find a free beginners training plan in the CaniCross Clinic Hub which gives you a step by step guide on how to safely build you and your dogs fitness to CaniBiking 5km.
Cool down your dog before heading home
Give your dog lots of praise for being awesome after the session and then take the time to cool them down before putting them in the car and heading home.
Cooling your dog down after your CaniBike training session is incredibly important, regardless of how long your training session was.
So as soon as you have finished your session, unclip your dog from the bike and walk them around until they’re breathing rate drops, they’re no longer panting and they reach homeostasis so their body systems have an opportunity to recover.
Also offer your dog a small amount of water to rehydrate them. If you offer them a bowl full of water it’s likely they will drink too much too quickly causing them to be sick.
Once your dog's breathing has returned to normal, it is safe to put them to the car and return home for some food and cuddles.
Teach your dog to line out
If your dog doesn't have any experience in harnessed sports such as CaniCross, you will need to teach them to pull into harness when walking or running before progressing to the bike. It’s also important to teach them directional cues off the bike so they respond at speed. This is a very important skill and safety measure!
To find out more information on how to do this, check out our beginners guide on our CaniCross page>
Once you have taught your dog the basic skills of harnessed sports. Next you need to teach your dog to line out so that you can start safely.
On your first outing, ask your dog to 'line out' or ask someone to hold your dog for you. Give them a cue to go such as '3, 2, 1, GO'.
Watch the video below to find out how to teach your dog to line out.
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5 tips for entering & competing
Finding a race
The CaniSports race season is usually Sept - May when the temperatures are cooler and less humid. Dogs struggle to control their body temperature in warm weather so can overheat very quickly.
You can race with a multitude of breeds, just be sure to check the events race rules for eligibility.
Cutting through the jargon
There are lots of different types of CaniSport events to enter which sometimes makes entering them a bit of a mindfield. You’ll find some events are just for CaniCross whereas others have a multiple of CaniSports including CaniCross, CaniBike, CaniScoot and Rig events so we’ve broken down the jargon for you:
Dryland = events which take place on dry trails and not snow
DC = Dryland CaniCross
DB = Dryland bikejor or CaniBike
DS = Dryland scooter or CaniScoot
If there is a number at the end such as DB2 this signifies it’s for more than one dog so in this example it would be CaniBike with a 2 dog team
DR = Dryland rig events for 4, 6 or 8 dog teams
Freight = Large hauling breeds such as malamutes
RNB = Registered Nordic Breeds. Only recognised nordic sled dog breeds which have a Kennel Club number and paperwork can enter such as huskies
Some races will have age categories which are typically:
Y = Youth 11-13 yrs
J = Junior 14-18 yrs
V = Veteran 40+
Here are some examples of the different classes:
DCMV = Dryland CaniCross men veteran
DBW RNB = Dryland bike female nordic breed
DBWJ = Dryland Bikejor women junior
Whichever event you choose to enter, make sure sure you arrive in plenty of time for the start of your race.
Some events will have race briefings which give competitors important information about the route and in some cases if you miss it you, you might not be allowed to start (as it nullifies their race insurance).
Arrive at the start in good time and give your dog plenty of room from the other competitors as it can be a very exciting, not to mention noisy environment!
In open events it’s a good idea to self seed and start nearer the back if you have a nervous dog to give them more confidence.
Out on the trail
When you are on the trail, if you catch someone up in front of you, call clearly to let them know you are there and that you are going to overtake (for example, “coming by on your left”).
If someone catches you up and calls which side they are going to pass you, pull over slightly to the other side of the trail. If you think your dog may want to go over and say “hello”, hold your line and bring your dog into your side so the other team can pass easily.
You may come across dog walkers or other members of the public who are also using the trail, so always be courteous and call out to them to let them know you are there.
Different races have different styles of markers to direct you around the course.
Here are some examples of the common markers used:
Turns are marked in red and are placed on the side the turn is.
They are then followed by a blue confirmation marker. Blue markers also indicate straight on.
Yellow markers indicate a hazard on the trail.
NO ROW marker means No Right of Way which means when you are coming towards the finish and you can overtake at any point.
Some races use different coloured arrows to show the route so it's important to attend the race briefing so you know what type of markers you are looking for.