Should I take my dog mountain biking?

I get asked this question quite a bit, and my answer is always “it depends” 😀 let me explain …

mountain biking with dogs LYO DOG

There are a few considerations and requirements to be met, before you decide to take your dog mountain biking:

The first and the MOST important fact to consider is that once you bring your dog on a biking trip, your first priority becomes your dog. This means that you have to adapt your trip to your dog´s well-being, fitness and other needs (food, water, checking for ticks, snakes, etc.). For example, you will not be able to ride as fast as you are used to, you will have to make short stops so that your dog can rest a bit and drink some water, you will have to be mindful of the temperature, other bikers, traffic, wildlife, other dogs, etc. Your trip will not be as carefree as it might be usually. This is something that you need to be aware of, otherwise this will be torture for you and for your dog.

The second consideration is split into two parts:

  1. How good are your mountain biking skills? Do you still need to focus on your riding and make some improvements, or are you skilled enough to ride safely and think ahead? What would happen with you and our dog if you fall and get injured?
  2. How good are your dog training skills? Are you prepared for a long training process? Do you have the patience to wait for several months or even years for your dog to be ready to join you? Are you skilled enough to understand your dog, his prey drive, possibly herding drive, fitness levels, etc.? Does your dog have basic obedience (recall, wait, stop) and can you control your dog at a distance and at a higher speed? Is your dog reactive to other people, dogs or anything else? Would your dog run after wildlife? This might seem overwhelming, but these are all possible scenarios that might happen on the trails.

The third and equally important consideration: are dogs even allowed on trails? As a rule, I would never take my dog to a bike park where there are many visitors, bikers, other people and animals, it´s a recipe for disaster. Instead, I always choose locations where I am 99% sure that we might not meet anyone (or at least very few people).

Last and final consideration: is mountain biking even legal in your country? I can only speak from experience in Slovenia, where riding in bike parks is legal, while riding on natural trails is not (or you need a land owner´s permission to use the trails). So, please check the legislation in your country before you make the final decision.