Roading Dogs for exercise

 Roading Dogs for exercise

Continuing with our previous theme about training during the winter when it is dark, I thought I’d share my roading outfit. Exercising dogs is critical to their overall mental and physical wellbeing, and very important for training. Another reason to get them in shape is that you can take them on a several day hunting trip and they can hunt the whole time, but in the winter when it’s dark before and after work it is difficult to get them out and exercise. When it’s light out, I typically like to take the dogs out on a dead-end back road and let them run free while I run from 2 to 5 miles. They’ll get out a ways from me then I’ll call them back and we all get our exercise, but when it’s dark, I just can’t give them that much freedom.

My solution was to build a roading rig for our 4-wheeler. I saw one advertised for $170 through a hunting dog supply outfit, so I built one for about $25. I made it from the following items:
(1) 10’ length of chain link fence top-rail pipe ($10)
(4) Eye bolts ($2)
(4) Swivels ($5)
(4) Heavy bungee cords ($3)
(4) Brass leash snaps ($5)

I drilled holes 2” and 20” in from each end and installed the eyebolts and swivels, then I cut the ends off the bungee cords threaded the snaps through and tied them in a circle using a zeppelin bend knot. I tied the bungee together so it would be double the strength and so that there were no sharp wires or anything to get cut on. I use 3 nylon straps (NRS) to attach it to the front rack. It holds tight and takes just a second to attach or detach it.

As for harnesses, you have to buy pulling harnesses just for roading. Don’t try buying the walking dog harnesses at the pet store. Trust me on this one, they don’t work. Gun Dog has a 1” wide nylon roading harness for $17 that works great. Strap these on the dogs, clip them to the snaps and you’re ready to go.

Most dogs take to it very quickly. Start slowly and make sure the dogs are with you and you are not dragging them. (They will hurt their pads very quickly if they are fighting you and you try to pull them along.)

I find that the dogs do best between 8 and 12 miles an hour. Just this morning (before taking the above photo – notice how calm the dogs are) I ran them a full 4 miles non-stop at 10 miles an hour. When I run them first thing in the morning, they get a great work out, are ready for training and are much calmer all day.

Thankfully we have passed the winter solstice and the days are getting longer.

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