“That’s never going to work.” Just two seconds into watching the above video those were the words that came to mind. After watching the whole clip and seeing that running a dog with a moped indeed did work - in this case, at least - I’m certain that this is not a safe way to exercise a dog. Speaking of exercise, the person riding the motor scooter clearly isn’t getting much of a workout! Couldn’t she at least be riding a bicycle?
There was a dirt road near my childhood home that my family frequently used for walking our two dogs. Occasionally we saw another lady with her dog on that road - the problem was that only one of them was walking while the other was driving. The lady drove her car with a leash dangling out the driver side window, attached to her small dog who jogged alongside. I cringed every time I saw them — I was afraid that one day she’d accidentally run over her poor pooch! I never learned why she felt the need to drive rather than walk her dog, but she was certainly putting her companion into a very risky situation.
Using a moped to exercise a dog isn’t a horrible idea; in fact I find it rather creative. Here are some reasons to be in favor of the concept:
- If exercise wears you out well before your dog starts to feel winded
- Mopeds are probably safer for dog running than any other motorized vehicle (golf carts would be next in line here)
- Mopeds are cheaper than any other motorized vehicle (except maybe motorized scooters)
- If you are experienced operating a moped
- If your dog is relatively well-behaved on a leash
- The risk of running over your dog with the moped
- The risk of your dog pulling you off a moving moped, especially if you aren’t wearing a helmet (as the rider in the video wasn’t)
- Running your dog with the flow of traffic as if you’re a cyclist, but forcing motorists to pass you and your dog as if you’re a pedestrian
- In this case, putting the dog close to moving traffic while the moped rider hugged the shoulder
- Unknowingly over-exerting an exhausted dog because you have the power of a motor to keep the pace moving
- You get zero exercise sitting on a moped
- You have to devote your attention to driving, which means less attention and interaction with your dog
- If you have to stop for any reason you need to find somewhere to pull off the road, e.g. without a curb, avoiding private property, etc.
- Keeping your dog hydrated becomes a challenge
- You can’t use trails or pathways that are off-limits to motorized vehicles
I think we can agree that those are five relatively good reasons (or at least well-intentioned reasons) to exercise your dog using a moped. What about the cons? Let’s start with safety issues:
When my wife watched the video her first reaction was to point out reason #6. While your dog might cause you to trip when running on foot, your injuries will be far less severe than wiping out on a moped. Even though this pair was running on residential streets, I noticed a fair amount of vehicular traffic. When I run with my dogs (on foot, of course) we’re on the left side of the road facing traffic - after all, we’re pedestrians. Further, I ensure that my dogs are on my left so that I’m the one closest to traffic - as long as I’m clear of the passing vehicles, then so are my dogs. If my dogs ever become more exhausted than me, I definitely feel them lagging on the leash and I’m nowhere near strong enough to drag them beyond the point of collapse.
Safety issues aside, there are other reasons to avoid motorized exercise with your dog:
Assuming one could find a way to effectively mitigate all of the safety issues, these last five reasons would still make the experience less beneficial - and let’s face it, less fun - than just running or walking with your dog. Owning a dog is a great excuse to keep yourself fit, and taking them out for a stroll is an effective way to interact with your dog as “one of the pack”. If you run out of gas you can simply rest for a while; if you or your dog need a drink you can stop and take a swig or lap it up. Most fun of all, you can explore beautiful trails that you otherwise wouldn’t see in a motorized vehicle.
I’m glad that the dog and rider in the above video were successful, but I hope it’s not something they do often, or even again. Why take on extra risk of harm to you and your dog when it’s even more fun and beneficial to everyone to keep your feet on the ground?