ATV Ride Alongs with Your Dog
Few things are more exciting than off-roading, with the wind blowing in your face and the wilderness surrounding you; so why not bring your dog along, too? Many dogs quite literally jump at the chance to jump on the ATV with their owners. From Rover at the ranch to urban mutts looking to escape the city with their pup parents, four-wheeling can be a fun way for your pup to enjoy the outdoors and get a big brain boost while sticking close to your side. Your dog would probably think so too! In fact, lots of working pups are used to riding alongside with their owners – hunting hounds hang out with the gear that’s packed in and out of camp, and farm dogs tag along on the back of the family four-wheeler in order to lend a paw with the livestock. Regardless of where you go with your dog, though, it’s a good idea to keep a few guidelines in mind to make sure that both of you are comfortable and happy while riding your ATV.
First, remember that quad bikes can look deceptively stable. However, they have a narrow wheel base and a high center of gravity, and can actually tip over quite easily. It’s important to learn how to drive an ATV properly and safely before you decide to add in a distracting variable like a dog! Next, know that the best place for your dog to enjoy your company is in the vehicle, unless you’ve specifically trained them to run with it., as the WooFDriver does (Click Here To See}. Dogs running beside an ATV could potentially fall, run off, become tired too quickly, or, in the worst case scenario, be caught under the wheels of the quad themselves and be injured or even killed. Many quad shops will sell racks or safety crates that can attach to your ATV; you can harness your pup into them to keep them safe and secure if you wish, though this is a controversial practice in the ATV community. (Numerous ATV enthusiasts say that dogs need to be able to ‘bail out’ in case of a roll over)
Preparation Before the Ride
Before your off-road adventure, make sure that you know where you’re going ahead of time, and whether dogs are allowed in on the trail you’re travelling on. The US National Park Service website has rules and regulations on ATVing in National Parks, as well as which parks allow dogs on trails too. Make sure that your dog has clear identification on a sturdy collar, and a good ‘stay’ command never hurts, too – you wouldn’t want your dog hopping off to chase every squirrel, racoon, or even deer that you may encounter on your ride.
Some other essentials that you should include for your four-wheeling tail-wagger are:
- Tangle-free leash
- Water (especially important as your dog can become easily dehydrated when riding in hot sun)
- First aid kit
- Clean-up rags or towels – don’t be surprised if your mutt wants to get down and get dirty when you stop for a break!
- Bags for poop disposal
- Non-slip padding or mats for the area where your pup sits or stands while riding
- Cooling mat for hot weather
- Your veterinarian’s number or the contact information of the nearest pet emergency clinic. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, accidents do happen!
Safety, of course, is one of the main concerns while quadding with your dog. Unlike a car, ATVs are open-air vehicles, and the nature of an ATV trail means that there’s often a higher potential for the vehicle to bump or even flip over during a ride. At high speeds, this could mean that your canine companion may be seriously injured! To prevent incidents on your ride with your dog, stick to smooth trails and moderate speeds, stopping often to give your furry friend a break to stretch their legs, have a drink or a potty break. If you’re going to set out on a more challenging, rough-road adventure on your ATV, or your dog isn’t well trained to follow your commands, it’s probably best to leave your pup at home.
Finally, of course, don’t forget protection for the rider! Keeping yourself safe is the best place to start – a hurt owner is no help for their canine companion. Wear safety gear like close-toed shoes and a helmet; it’s never a bad idea to bring a cell phone along as well as tell someone what trails you’ll be heading out on, either. The experiences that you can share with your dog on an ATV can be fantastic, since you can access places that may be too far to travel to on foot; just keep in mind that your dog is relying on you to keep an eye out for the both of you. Now get out there, and have some free-wheeling, four-wheeling fun!