If you can ride a bicycle and are looking for a way to exercise your dog more, without having to get a lot more exercise, yourself, consider a Walky Dog. This is a great alternative for some or all of your walks, if you have a medium-to-large dog who needs a lot of exercise. Because it takes less energy to bike a mile than to walk it, you can walk your dog at a faster pace, covering the same ground in less time: perfect for busy households.
The author and his husband got a Walky Dog not long after they got Charlie, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, this spring. Charlie is five years old and well leash-trained, important to the success of Walky-Dogging. He is also a fairly large dog at 75 pounds, and needs a lot of exercise. Replacing even one of his three-times-a-day, hour-long walks with a bicycle ride takes less time, works the dog harder, and works the dog walker less. It provides variety, and gives the dog intense physical exercise while still being an exercise in human-dog interaction, as you still control the dog’s pace and direction.
The Walky Dog attaches the dog to a bike via a metal baton, about a foot long, that acts as a spacer, keeping the dog from tending to run too close to the wheels. A springy leash extends from the baton to a carrabiner clip that attaches to a dog chest harness, of which there are several brands on the market. Once you install the hardware under the bicycle seat, the baton attaches with a spring-loaded quick-lock and -release mechanism, making it easy to take off and put on. When you’re ready to take the dog for a bike jog or run, put on his chest harness. Mount your bike, then attach the baton, and call the dog over. Clip the carrabiner to his harness, and start pedaling.
There are a few downsides to using the Walky Dog to consider before deciding to purchase both the Walky Dog and a chest harness to use with it. Mounting and dismounting with the baton in place can be tricky, so it’s recommended that you attach and detach it from a mounted position. Taking your dog for a bike run won’t kill two birds with one stone, if you expect to get a workout, too. You can ride much faster and longer than your dog can run, so you will have to ride more slowly, and can’t take your dog on a bike ride that is at all challenging to even the most casual cyclist. Bicycling slowly, and particularly going down hill, can put extra pressure on a cyclist’s wrists. On the uphills, however, your dog can actually help pull you up the hill.
Using a Walky Dog, your dog can trot or run as fast as he is able, while still being on leash. This is great for places like public parks, roads, and urban areas, where off-leash options that allow dogs to run freely are limited. Charlie and Kevin ride the rail trails through Northampton, and make a hybrid Walky Dog/off-leash trip by bicycling together through town to the greenway along the Mill River, a popular dog walking and watering spot. Once at the greenway, Charlie and other dogs run freely through the woods and into the water, while pedestrians, runners, and cyclists wind along the dirt trails beside the river.
While running with a dog is also fun and great exercise, a human’s running speed is still only about the speed of a trotting dog. To really let him open the throttle, take your best friend for a bike run with a Walky Dog. You’ll both love the change of pace.