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The world's smallest sled dog [Oct. 12th, 2013|10:43 am]
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Ferrett and I have been watching Cesar Milan in the background while working, and one of the things that he emphasizes is giving dogs enough exercise. He rollerblades with his dogs, and encourages people to bike with them as well.

I don't rollerblade, but it's been noted that I do bike, so I thought I'd give it a try with Shasta.

The problem is, Shasta is terrified of bicycles. When we walk, she lunges at them with a ferocity that is unmatched by her reaction to anything else. But, hey, Mommy was gonna be the one on the bike; it would be okay, right.

AAA-HAHAHAHAHA!

The first time out, I got about 6 houses down the street before giving up. She was biting her leash, snapping at the tires, snapping at my ankles, and barking her head off. I almost ran her over three times, and almost crashed twice. I staggered back to the house, laughing at the disaster.

But if at first you don't succeed! And we have lots of experience with her being terrified of something the first time she encounters it and getting better. So this morning after taking her for her walk, I decided to try again.

First of all, I used the mountain bike, which is smaller. Secondly, I rode on the sidewalk--something I never do when riding regularly, but in this case it seemed the wiser. As we began, Shasta was barking and snapping just like the first time. This time, though, I was ready to be more patient. I stopped and reassured her, pedaled a few more feet, stopped again and let her sniff the bike, pedaled a bit more and stopped to make her quit biting the leash.

After the third stop, she turned and fled the bike. And after a few yards, she began to get the idea.

And suddenly I wasn't pedaling; I was being pulled down the street by 15 pounds of black, streaking energy. To the point that I was braking. We got to the first corner, and getting her to turn to the right caused me to almost hit a telephone pole. Next corner, I had to come to a complete stop to get her to turn and head back up the length of the block. It's slightly uphill, so we weren't going as fast, but there were distractions: dogs being walked, birds, fire hydrants. So I went back and forth between pedaling and braking, and being suddenly yanked by a sprinting dog such that I had to recatch my balance.

We turned the third corner, and keeping her from going straight and into the street I had to stop completely and pull her back, then sort of waddle the bike around the corner. And things fell apart there. We were back to the snarling and snapping and barking and biting the leash. Fortunately, this was the short side of the block and we were almost home. So we fought our way around the last turn and I was resigned to heading home, glad we'd made some progress.

Then, headed downhill, Shasta started running again. So we went around again, and then a third time. It was better, but we are clearly both still learning. The lunging and slowing for her, the braking and then getting almost pulled off the bike for me. By the time I got home from those three miles, I was hot and sweating, despite the fact that Shasta was doing most of the work.

But she got the corners, and we had a great time.

And now she is flopped beside me, worn out. So yay!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: james_b
2013-10-12 03:24 pm (UTC)

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I know it seems rather silly, but check your local laws. In some places, it's actually illegal for either the driver or passenger in a vehicle or the rider of a bicycle to lead an animal from the vehicle, or have an animal tethered to the vehicle.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-13 04:21 am (UTC)

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Ugh. I will check.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-14 01:07 am (UTC)

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State laws and local ordinances checked. I'm okay. Woot!
[User Picture]From: james_b
2013-10-14 12:43 pm (UTC)

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Good to know. It's one of those things you're unaware of until you find out the hard way.

I know that it is against the law in most states in Australia, illegal in Scotland, and in some places where it is legal, the dogs must be equipped with lights after dark. In a few legal jurisdictions, it is legal on cycle paths, but not on public roads.

There's been talk in California about looking at the law after a woman was killed on a trail when she fell and hit her head after getting tangled up in the leashes of a guy cycling with his two huskies. That incident occurred in 2009, and so far, nothing has been done.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-14 01:15 pm (UTC)

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That's the kind of freak accident that shouldn't lead to a change of laws. It's tragic, but changing the law is ridiculous. People are killed on highways every single day, and we don't make them illegal.

And I'm NEVER biking after dark with Shasta. She is midnight black and *I* wouldn't be able to see her!!!
From: anonymousalex
2013-10-12 03:49 pm (UTC)

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If this becomes a habit, you should look into the devices (sorry, don't know what they're called exactly) that hold the leash for you, some distance from the bike. That way you've got both hands free, and the dog is held a sufficient distance away that tangling is less likely.

And you have now learned my motto: a tired dog is a good dog.

-Alex
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-13 04:23 am (UTC)

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I will have to look into that. I was able to keep both hands in the handlebars with her leash around my wrist, but if she were any bigger I can see that being a problem.

A tired dog is definitely a good thing. We had people in and out of the house all day, and I don't know how it would have been without the run. She was excited enough even with it.
From: diatryma
2013-10-17 04:00 am (UTC)

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These are also good because they're elastic, so there's less immediate lunge-panic.
[User Picture]From: andrewducker
2013-10-12 04:09 pm (UTC)

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That's fantastic, I'm really glad that persevering paid off!
[User Picture]From: ba1126
2013-10-12 04:35 pm (UTC)

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Sounds like quite a workout for you both!!
[User Picture]From: blessed_oak
2013-10-12 04:43 pm (UTC)

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Sounds like if it works out, it could be lots of fun for both of you. And, bonus, she won't go nuts anymore when other people pass by on bikes!
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-13 04:24 am (UTC)

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That's what I'm hoping!
[User Picture]From: fallconsmate
2013-10-12 05:50 pm (UTC)

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well, yay for both of you for getting to the golden point so quickly! :)
[User Picture]From: mplsindygirl
2013-10-12 06:06 pm (UTC)

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That's a fun story :)
[User Picture]From: 10101
2013-10-12 09:53 pm (UTC)

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http://www.thedogoutdoors.com/walkydog-dog-bike-leash.html
This is what we use to bike with our dog - been very successful for the last several years!
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-13 04:33 am (UTC)

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Interesting. Do you use a halter?
[User Picture]From: 10101
2013-10-13 05:40 am (UTC)

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It comes with a harness that attaches to the WalkyDog!
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-13 01:41 pm (UTC)

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Harness! I meant harness. It comes with it? The website didn't make that clear, and there wasn't anyplace that asked about sizing.
[User Picture]From: 10101
2013-10-14 02:18 am (UTC)

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Whoops - I checked, and it doesn't come with the harness. My mistake! We bought a harness that has the clip for the leash (or walky dog, in this case) on the back.
[User Picture]From: shalimar_98
2013-10-13 01:01 pm (UTC)

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I'd probably advise against using a halter when biking, especially if you attach the leash to the bike. Just seems the potential for injury would be high.

With my last biking dog when we used a fixed leash I hooked it on her harness. Then for added control I held the leash attached to her pinch collar, used that as a way to keep her focus on trotting. Mostly though I rode one handed and held the leash and merely had it hooked to her collar.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-13 01:39 pm (UTC)

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I meant harness. Was typing way too late last night!
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2013-10-14 01:23 am (UTC)

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Hmmm. They suggest that your dog should be over 20 pounds. I will have to call them.
[User Picture]From: delosd
2013-10-12 11:24 pm (UTC)

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Now you know what it feels like to walk True! :)
[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2013-10-13 01:16 am (UTC)

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Yay! She's such a sweet doggie. It's great you have her in your life now. When I started walking laps in my unfinished basement, it totally confused my cat Justin. He could figure out what I was doing. He would keep running up from behind me and cut in front of me, so I had to be careful not to trip over him. Then he started to but through the middle of the basement when he wanted to greet me. He learned that doing so is a lot less work for him. Now he'll demand attention for a while and then let me walk my laps as he sniffs around the basement. It's fascinating how we're perceived by our animal family members and how they react to what we do.
[User Picture]From: conscience
2013-10-13 01:27 am (UTC)

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YAY! Patience, love and a steady hand (and bike!) works wonders. Looks like if this keeps getting better, you'll have a new past-time to enjoy!