Skeptical. That’s the only accurate way to describe first impressions of the DoggerJogger. The photos and short description seemed to be an ill-fated match for the dog, bike, and cyclist at best. At worst, visions of dog dragging the bike in one direction and cyclist (obviously in this instance I can only picture myself) up a tree in the other. Wrapping my head around how this little piece of gear (and it is little, there isn’t much to the DoggerJogger) could possibly help get me, a bike, and a dog from point A to point B without traumatic injury was beyond me (If you’re really interested in how skeptical sketched out this product initially made me, troll the Trail Shops facebook page for comments circa early August.
This is when passionate entrepreneur, dog lover, and DoggerJogger inventor Bill Braman challenged me to try the DoggerJogger for myself. With the help of the team at The Trail Shop; DogRunnin team members Leanne Whiting (yoga instructor to the DogRunnin team) and Caitlin Peirlot along with canine support from; River, Sita, Sophie, Pippy, Cinnamon and Leo we set out to give the DoggerJogger a fair test and review.
The DoggerJogger comes in a few unassuming pieces. You can see a complete photo by photo preview of the set up here. We initially tested the DoggerJogger using collars on four dogs. Neither dog nor ride particularly found this enjoyable. After chatting with Bill, he wondered if this was also perhaps because it was the dogs first time using the DoggerJogger. There may be something to this, however when Cinnamon and Leo tested the DoggerJogger they both used harnesses right away and we didn’t experience the same aversive reaction as we did with Pippy, River, Sita and Sophie. We also didn’t like the location of the dog in relation to the bike when using a collar. It made seeing the dog in the periphery more of a challenge.
Moving onto an X-back harness with Pippy, I expected to see this product perform at it’s best. The X-back is designed for pulling in harness dog sports, one of which is bikjoring. However unlike bikjoring where the dog is in front of the bike, the DoggerJogger has the dog to the side of the bicycle. Without the lead room to move and pull the X-back harness got bunched and was obviously uncomfortable and frustrating for Pippy. As you can see in the photo to the left, Pippy’s comfort and enjoyment changed dramatically when we moved to a harness with a front and back attachment.
This rang true for every dog we rode with from this point on. We used four different harnesses with chest or back/shoulder attachments and every dog ran beautifully along side the bike.
We did note a few things to keep in mind as you’re using this product. If you’re dog is reactive on leash (and 1/2 the dogs we trailed the product have leash reactivity), they will still be reactive when using this product. This isn’t a negative or positive, just a reminder. You’re traveling faster than a walk or jog when cycling with your dog, so they will have less time to zone in on potential triggers of reactivity, this is a huge plus, and often why running is a great exercise option for reactive dogs. That being said, you will also come upon them quicker, giving you less time to prepare to pass the trigger.
On that note as well, because the dog is to the side of the bike it isn’t always possible to keep an eye on what has their attention. If you’re cycling with a reactive or distracted dog we found it to be a challenge as they got more fatigued to keep tabs on what had the dogs attention at all times while keeping eyes forward on the trail. That being said as Bill shared with me, the pedal attachment allows 2-way feedback between the rider and the dog. When the dog slows down the rider feels it on the next revolution of the pedal, which is about once every second. In the same way, if the dog slows down inadvertently the same message gets communicated.
The view from above. As Cinnamon tired, she dropped out of my periphery vision and it became a greater challenge to keep tabs on what had her attention.
We often grossly underestimate the amount and type of exercise and activity our dogs need in our urbanized environments. Own a dog that is a traditional working breed? A walk through our neighbourhoods generally doesn’t align with the traditional tasks your dog was bred to accomplish. You might just find the DoggerJogger a helpful option in giving your dog a job or responsibility. In the same manner a reactive, fearful dog often lacks confidence. Biking with them is a fantastic way to help them gain confidence and overcome reactivity.
Once the dogs were in harness we could have rode and never returned. The tails wagged, the pups were attentive, and the content, happy, satisfaction post ride was easily identifiable post ride for every dog. Currently there are few urban bike lanes suitable for cycling with your dog in the city (and on the sidewalks is a no no.), so we’d recommend using this on well maintained groomed crusher dust trails. We tested the DoggerJogger using a road bike, mountain bike and commuter bike. We found each bike to be equally suited to the attachment and the dogs didn’t indicate a concern for which bike was used. We do recommend you use a bike that’s properly fitted and you’re comfortable with riding. If you’ve not cycled in a while, we’d recommend a ride on your own prior to heading out with the dog.
We’ve had a number of people ask if we’d keep using the product after we tested and reviewed it.The answer is yes! Locally the product is available at The Trail Shop, it can also be purchased online direct through the DoggerJogger website. We’ll let the below photo of Cinnamon give you the final indication as to why we think that’s a good idea, but in the mean time, trip to the Bike and Bean anyone?
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