HOW Series: Training Dogs for Bike Trailers Part 3

I don’t know what it is about training my dogs to do new things, it just makes me so happy to see them learning! During the last two weeks of Burley Tail Wagon training we’ve made some breakthroughs! Kona is still super enthusiastic about hoping in and riding as we increase her distance and time. And Riley has made his first few (very short) journeys. When I say short, I mean to the end of the driveway and back, but it’s progress and I’ll take it!

In order to get Riley more excited about the Tail Wagon, I switched to super high value treats – that means hot dogs, and Zuke’s Jerky on top of being fed his meals inside. Another training trick I’ve learned along the way is something I call “throwing a party.” After Riley hopped in the trailer, sat nicely, and let me push him down the driveway (with a handful of hot dogs) I gave him tons of over the top praise. I made sure he knew that what he just did made me super happy. Riley loves to work for treats and love, when he feels like he’s pleasing me, he’s happy – I can see it in his eyes. I’m nowhere near ready to bring the bike into the picture with him yet, but he’s making slow progress and I’m so proud of him.

Kona is a bike trailer rock star. I’ve been taking her for longer rides around our neighborhood and the local park. Her open mouth and relaxed body language is telling me she’s getting more comfortable. Something I’ll be purchasing next is a rear view mirror for my handle bar so I can look back at her easier than turning my body.

Something else I’m working on with Kona is closing her in the trailer. Since my big goal here is to be able to do multiday trips, there may be times when we’re in the rain or riding on roads, and I need to keep her safe. Like I mentioned earlier neither of my dogs like to be crated, or enclosed in a small space so I know it’s important that I make sure she gradually gets used to the sides being closed up.

Key Training Tips This Week:

High value treats make all the difference. These are treats the dogs don’t get very often – I use them when I need to make a point. Riley and Kona get treats on a daily basis, so saving the super tasty ones for new training challenges ups the ante.

Over the top praise works. Who doesn’t like being told they’re a rock star?! When both my dogs sit nicely in that trailer and hop out only on command I make sure they know how awesome they are. I’m sure my neighbors think I’m a little nuts!

A play session is the icing on the cake. After a training session, I like to let the dogs play. It’s kinda like getting to go outside after your homework is done. Always end training on a high note and use that positive energy for some fun!

Someone is looking much happier in the Tail Wagon now! More hot dogs please!

Play sessions after trying sessions help reinforce the idea that learning is fun!