I’m always searching for off season ways to mimic the feel of snowboarding. Coincidentally, I also have a dog that needs the energy run out of her on a regular basis. I found the perfect solution to both problems, I let my dog pull me on my longboard.
It’s great exercise for both of us, her more than me, and when she really gets going I can sit back and carve like I’m on snow. Here are a few tips if you think you might be interested in longboarding with your dog.
Let’s get started:
First, get comfortable on a longboard: Let’s start with the obvious one. If you aren’t comfortable on a board without a dog, you sure won’t be with one. Make sure you’re comfortable and most importantly in control. You may need to slow down or jump off at a moment’s notice.
Next, invest in a good leash: I use the Ruffwear Knot-a-Leash for a few reasons. The handle gives me good grip, the rope is much stronger than a normal leash, and most importantly it connects with a locking carabiner. I like this because once it’s locked I know that she’d not going to accidentally get loose. I also know that I won’t have any issues with a cheap clip failing on me if I need to quickly get her under control.
Finally, find a pulling harness: I use the Ruffwear Omnijore Harness because it’s specifically made for pulling. Other harnesses or just using a collar can put strain on the dogs neck or other body parts. The Omnijore harness is designed to keep your dog as comfortable as possible while they pull. It also still has a handle up top which is nice when I need to stop and correct her when she’s distracted. You want this to be fun for your dog, not painful or too fatiguing.
Try using voice commands on walks: When we aren’t longboarding, I try to use the same commands with my dog as I do during londboarding. Things like “right”, “left” or “whoa” to stop aren’t super important during a normal walk, but they can be when you’re cruising along at a higher speed. It’s good to get your dog used to these terms.
Always wear protective pads: At some point things will likely go wrong, whether it’s a loose dog, a squirrel or just a really excited kid. Wearing pads can take the risk out of seriously injuring yourself.
Start off slow: If it was up to my dog she’d book it at full speed on our first straight away. Instead, I make her start off slow, constantly jerking her leash and saying “slow”. She ends up pacing herself better throughout the run and we maintain more of a consistent speed.
Talk to your pup: I find that if I talk to my dog constantly throughout the run she gets less distracted. Spots where she normally would get stuck during a walk, such as a frequently peed on bush, go by so quick she doesn’t even realize it. As soon as I notice her take notice of anything, I just repeat things like “good girl Codah” and “come on Codah” in a positive voice and it really seems to help her focus.
Pick a time with little distractions: This goes for both the time of day and time of year. Going in the evening when there’s less sidewalk traffic is a much better time of day than right when kids get out of school. The time of year also matters too. In the fall for example, when squirrels are running around like crazy I have a really hard time getting my dog to focus.
Be aware at all times: Even if you’ve picked the least distracting time of all, there will always be something to throw you and your dog off. Whether it’s a rabbit, a loose dog, or even a large crack, it’s important to always be ready to bail if necessary. Keep your speed low in case you need to put your foot dog or in an emergency jump off. Have a firm grip on the leash, and make sure you spot the issue or distraction well before your dog does.
Make sure your dog is comfortable: Some dogs just might not be into it. Personally, I’ve lucked out because I have a Husky mix and this is right up her alley, but some dogs might get scared if there’s something on wheels following right behind them. Some dogs may not also be physically able to pull either. If you think this is something you want to try, it’s a good idea to ask your vet if your dog is fit enough and able to participate. You want this to be fun for both of you as well as good exercise healthy for the both of you.