I have a new bike and I'm super stoked about it. After years of not being on a bicycle; my biking days are now back and I'm loving it. I bought a beautiful crossover or hybrid bike. This means that I can ride on the pavement/asphalt or dirt and grass. So I've been out riding as much as I can trying to feel "one with my bike," after a long absence. :)
Having fun and being active is my main objective. Enjoying the freedom of speed I am also very aware of safety. I wear a helmet and am constantly scanning the environment around me. That includes dogs. Those who love to ride bikes must stay very aware to the dogs around them.
I was riding down a path this weekend, where there were folks walking their dogs. I zipped off and on the path when needed; always giving pedestrians and dogs the right of way. Judging the distance of leash guardians had given their dogs and making sure that they knew I was coming; I took the needed amount of space between them and me.
I am writing today because I had a few moments with dogs that I needed to address. The first was an area that was very close quarts. As I rode down the path, a more narrow path was ahead of me. At the entrance of the path was a couple with their dog. Their actions made me get off of my bike. They had cornered their dog; the husband put his leg across the dog and the woman had a stick in ready. Hmmmmmmm. This looked like an accident waiting to happen. Clearly the dog was not going to be okay with me riding by.
I got off my bike and gestured for them to go ahead. "He loves to run with bikers," they explained as the dog dragged them my way. "I could see that he was focused on me" I said back to them. Before I could scoot around them the dog was sniffing my bike. "How did you know?" they asked. I told them I was a dog trainer and then we had an impromptu Q&A. Being that I wanted to continue my ride I quickly answered some of their questions and started to move away. The dog went into full CUJO mode where they continued to explain what was going on. I already knew, smiled and continued my ride.
The dog wanted to control my movement; he was not interested in a fun run by my side. The dog's guardians were being ruled by their dog. As long as I stood where he wanted me to stand, things were fine. But when I took it upon myself to move away, he was not. Had I just rode my bike passed them; I have no doubt that I would have had to deal with a large Lab/Border Collie lunging at me.
The next incident was one where I also got off of my bike. I was riding a long a path and saw a couple of women up ahead with their dogs off leash. Off leash dogs is not something you like to see when you are on a bike. I slowed and watched where the woman were going to take their dogs. They FINALLY saw me coming and moved away from the path. I got off my bike, both dogs were herding type dogs so I knew they would be more prone to my bike as a trigger.
What happened next really shocked me. One of the woman leashed their dog, which was good. The other woman put her dog between her legs and held onto the collar. As I got closer, the dog went so crazy that the woman could barely hang onto her dog. This was direct at me just walking by, I had already got off my bike thinking about what might happen. The other dog was on high alert, ready to pounce when given the chance. Neither of these dogs should have been off leash EVER in public.
So, I love my new bike. I will enjoy it whenever I can. Dogs are often triggered by bikes, it is a common occurrence. It is much the same as walking vs. running trigger chase. Many dogs have very strong chase drive; so this is something that a rider must be aware of. Always be prepared to react to a lunge. Always be ready and give yourself more space when riding by dogs.
If your dog is not accustom to bicycles or has the drive to chase them; you must take extra precaution. One lunge, even if the dog does not connect; can send a bike rider off of their bike resulting in a serious injury. Keep your dog by your side and hire a positive trainer to help you to desensitize them with bicycles if needed.
By desensitizing and counter conditioning, bicycles can be a problem in the past, very quickly.