The discussion on Dexter01's thread about "leave it" started to go to this discussion of biking with your dog. Thought maybe a new thread was a good idea.
For the German Shepherd Breed Survey (part of work testing for breeding suitability) you need to complete a few steps. You need a passing Conformation Show rating (including correct dentition), you need to have hips and elbows x-rayed and they must pass OFA OR the German SV. You need to obtain an IGP 1 (formerly Schutzhund 1 also formerly IPO 1)(first you must pass the Bh or Begleithunde which is a combination obedience exercise and temperament test). You need to pass the Ausdauerprüfung or "Ad" endurance test. Dogs too closely line/inbred cannot Breed Survey and dogs that fail any of the above do not obtain their Breed Survey or Körung to obtain his Körklasse rating. IMO if you are purchasing a German Shepherd puppy BOTH parents should have their Körung in addition to any other titles and venue the owner chooses.
My dog has his show rating ("SG" which is "very good".. he cannot get "Excellent" unless put in a German Style Conformation show AFTER earning his IGP 1), he has all his teeth and his bite is correct (these are in his score book). His Xrays have passed and his official pedigree has its "A-1 Stamp" and clear elbows. He will be competing for his Bh next month and the day after he will be going for his Ad.
The Ad is a 12.5 mile endurance test. Handler rides a bike and dog trots next to it on a non-stretching leash attached to a chain "fursaver" collar NOT on the live or choke ring (I attach to a random link). At around 8 miles there is a 15 minute break (and water is offered) and the dog is checked and his feet are checked. At 10 miles there is another break and then the dog is checked again at the end. The club hosting the Test must find a place for people to ride bikes and trot dogs and do so safely. Some clubs just have dogs go around and around a field. Others use bike paths. The one we are entered in is a bike path along the edge of a State park on former NY Central rail road ROW. It is paved.
It is my first time going for a Körung on a dog so it is my first Ad.
As I said in my other thread.. at my age if I get tossed off my bike, I will likely BREAK and not just bruise. As a result of that concern, I have been training on the trail that will be used for the Ad. This test need not be generalized to other locations.. it is happening at this location. If I want to bike with my dog elsewhere in the future, I can always do that.
The training started (per the suggestion of someone who has done this with several dogs) to walk the bike and the dog and put any desire the dog might have to interact with the bike "to bed." Some dogs like to chase and bite the tires, cut in front, cut behind or even jump at the bike. So lesson 1 is respect for that bike. Stay away from it. Lesson 2 is that this biking thing is a JOB and so Mr. dog.. please pay attention, and stay in position (not too far ahead so you cannot cut in front).
For training (and because I could get seriously hurt) I am using a pinch collar. Dog gets too far forward I tell him "Back" and I will back this up with a quick correction. He has learned "back" as a result (we use that word for other things like moving back in heeling and making a quick left turn). I also use my speed to "correct" if he is distracted (Keep up buddy!!). He has been doing VERY well. He keeps the leash slack (I hold it in my hand) and he knows "eeeaaasy" means we are slowing down and whoa.. is we are going to stop.
Here are the pitfalls that could get me hurt..
The trail is through fairly wild country with farmlands to the west and a vast wooded mountainous State Park to the east. There are NO fences along the bike path except a few spots with steep sides to the trail or on bridges. Most of the fences are two rail split rail so not a barrier for dogs or wildlife or other loose dogs on adjacent properties. both sides of the tail are heavily wooded and brushy (so stuff can hide in the brush) The trail has no leash requirement so you can encounter people walking and their off leash dogs which WILL interfere with your dog. While my leave it word (Pfui) and a back up correction if needed has been working, sometimes we get surprised. Last night on the one small short section through hay fields (near the end) a large doe deer had bedded down next the the trail. She jumped up and ran and my high prey drive dog automatically started to cut in front OBLIVIOUS to me and go after the deer. FORTUNATELY a correction and a shout and my dog remembered the "job" and returned focus to the "job." There have been other near misses.. Wild Turkeys, Cats, dogs on neighboring properties, dogs and people on the rail trail, a bear crashing off through the woods and (of course) Squirrels and Chipmunks. These things are often in close proximity (a few feet and a few yards) and, regardless of my constant vigilance, can "appear" unexpectedly. Dog has been very good so far.. but a time may come when prey drive over rides and he could get loose or cut in front and get us both hurt (or all of these things).
The pitfalls for the dog are pad toughness. He has two toes (one on each front foot) that wear and can bleed. I have altered the length of the ride and I only ride 2-3X a week for conditioning. I have purchased Tuff Paws and am using according to directions. I have received the suggestion to go slower (dog has an amazing trot.. as a GSD should) and I will do that but right now I have to give him a week off to heal (the spots are very very small.. about 1/32nd of an inch in diameter). Going slower will increase the dog's ability to look around more and increase the likelihood of cutting in front etc... but will save his pads..
I watched videos of Canyx and Brae biking. Brae uses a harness and (it appears) a bungee leash. From the clip I saw it seems she has fences for a lot of the rail trail. I am required to use a fursaver on the dead ring and a standard leash for the test (I am using a 3 foot leash so there is less to get tangles up in). I have no fences. On the day of the Ad there will be a bunch of dogs and bikes and we are going to go a distance and then turn around and come back.. so dogs and bikes will be going south and north and passing each other.
Any additional suggestions to prevent accidents are welcome. So far we have thwarted disaster and he is REALLY doing very well keeping the leash loose and paying attention to the job at hand.