Pawtrekker Dog Scooter Articles

» more articles

But Mum I'm Not a Husky

I have often watched film and TV footage of sled dogs sweeping majestically across the frozen tundra, their “mushers” in complete control, and then thought to myself, “If I tried that with my dogs I would end up with either the dog on my lap or me in the nearest snow bank”. Training sled dogs looks to me to be as complex a task as training for competitive obedience, but with more potential for disaster if your dog gets distracted ‐ after all, with obedience, if your dog messes up a movement you just loose marks.

Although I have been aware for some time that there were dry land rigs which could be used in less snowy climates, I had never really given it much thought, since I had assumed that it was just for the sled dog types like Huskies and Malamutes.

I didn’t give the matter any further thought until I recently took on another rescue dog. Zack is a lovely, but very large 7 year old Doberman cross with epilepsy who had come into rescue through no fault of his own. He had just one problem, he would get so excited to see people and other dogs that he would dive to the end of the lead and start pulling. I am only 5’ 6” and so with him weighing in at 48kg and standing 31” at the shoulder this was a bit of an issue, but not as much of an issue as if I let him off the lead. His intentions were honourable, but if you don’t know him, having a dog the size of a Great Dane which looks like a Doberman hurtling towards you is going to be enough to terrify even the most dedicated dog lover! How on earth was I going to give this large dog the exercise he needed without putting him in a position where he could get into trouble while I worked on his training? Just walking him along on the end of the lead was clearly not an option unless I developed muscles like Popeye and spent all day walking, and as much as I would love to do that, I still have to earn money to pay for all the dog food he eats!

I briefly entertained the idea of attaching him to my mountain bike as I used to do with my old Lurcher, Sean, but I soon dismissed that as a suicide mission! I then remembered someone talking about “scootering” as a great way to exercise their dog. Not really knowing what scootering was I decided to do a bit of research. The scooters used with dogs are based very much on the mountain bike model, with most having mountain bike style brakes, wheels and suspension. In fact the only difference seems to be that the scooter obviously does not have a saddle and pedals, and instead has a footplate where you stand and “scoot”. It is still very much on the sled dog theme, with the dogs out in front pulling, but the advantage here is that if you have a small dog you can scoot while they only pull part of your weight. All shapes and sizes of dogs are being used for scootering, from tiny terriers to large mastiffs. It seemed like a good way of exercising your dog, although I was still put off by the idea of having to trust them to pull where I wanted to go rather than investigate every lamp post and blade of grass. I was about ready to give up when I came across the Pawtrekker website. They had something called a “sidewalker” which they stated was good for when you need to keep your dogs under close control such as on roads. I was intrigued. Could this be the answer to my quest?

The sidewalker does pretty much what it says on the tin. It has an upside down U‐shaped adjustable frame which attaches via a rigid fixing to the side of the scooter. With the bottom of the U over the dog’s back the dog is attached, using the harness provided, to the shock absorbers on the sides. Your dog can then pull or just run alongside depending on their size and preference. I was still not entirely convinced. Surely I would still get thrown off at the first sign of something more interesting. Would my dogs really take to suddenly pulling a scooter along? After an in depth chat with Ginny at Pawtrekker I decided to part with my hard earned cash and take the plunge.

My scooter and sidewalker arrived two days later and I was surprised at how easy it was to assemble (although I did need to provide most of my own tools). Soon I was ready to give it a go. With an uncharacteristic display of sense, I had decided to try out the scooter and get used to its controls before attaching a large unruly dog to it. Off I went and was soon whizzing down hills and laboriously scooting my way back up. After a few days I decided to take the plunge. With another uncharacteristic display of good sense I decided to try out my slightly smaller and slightly more controllable black German Shepherd, Tom, before moving onto the unruly Zack. I fitted his harness, which required another phone call to the ever‐patient Ginny to confirm I had got it right. Tom was looking at me with deep suspicion, but a few fishy treats soon allayed his concerns. I tempted him in between the bars having adjusted the height and width of the U frame and then hooked him onto the shock absorbers. Again he was eyeing me suspiciously. A few more treats were dispensed and he was again calm and happy. I decided to try walking forward with him in the frame and me just walking alongside the scooter. Deeply unimpressed he decided to go backwards, so backwards a few steps we went, then forwards, then backwards and then with a quick shrug he looked at me and we were off! I was absolutely stunned at how easily he had taken to it. Ok, he was not pulling yet, but was certainly happily trotting along at the side within a couple of minutes. We carried on and he started to get the idea and tentatively pulled at the harness. It was surprisingly easy to control his movements by using the brake and steering gently. We returned home jubilant and I decided to put the sidewalker to the ultimate test. I adjusted the harness and the height of the U bar and set about repeating the process with Zack. In less time than it had taken for Tom, Zack was raring to go. He took to pulling the scooter like a duck to water and we were soon zipping along the local lanes, much to the astonishment and confusion of passers by.

We stuck to the local lanes for a few weeks while getting the hang of things. Even when Zack decided to try and bolt after another dog it was not too difficult to restrain him with the scooter’s brakes and quickly steer in another direction. We have since progressed from the local lanes to some off road tracks and the boys still love it. The most amazing thing for me is the change in the relationship I now have with my dogs. I used to be like many dog owners, continuously throwing the ball for them to have the exercise they needed and dealing with the resulting repetitive strain injury and tennis elbow. Now that our walks involve us continuously interacting and working as a team to achieve our destination, our relationship is much closer. They are looking at me more as the person who leads them when having fun, rather than the two legged idiot tagging along with the ball and the treat bag. Another unexpected, and very welcome, benefit of the sidewalker has been the improvement in their lead walking. They have become so accustomed to being just behind me on the left hand side that they now naturally walk in this position. A far cry from the days of being pulled down the road!

I have now taken the plunge and bought the sidewalker extension piece. This will allow me to scooter
with both dogs at the same time even though they are different sizes. Iditarod sled dog race here we

Resources: (you are here already!)

Faye Litherland

» more articles

About is a supplier of quality dog scooters, sidewalkers, dog scooter parts and accessories.

Connect with us:

What our customers are saying

Quote about PawtrekkerI would like to say it is a great dog scooter and soon as I can will take some pictures and send you some of the scooter and wolfy pulling me or my wife as its going to be fun.' ~ Mr V Smith, Halkirk

Read more comments... »