Riding a bike can be a fantastic activity to share with your dog, big or small. If you have a dog that requires a lot of exercise, having them run alongside the bike can provide them much-needed physical stimulation. For small dogs or older dogs, riding with your dog in a bike trailer or basket is a great way to get where you need to go without putting too much of a burden on your pet.
When it comes to learning how to take a dog on a bike ride, the most important part of bicycling with dogs is safety. We’ll go over safe riding techniques, the best gear for biking with dogs, and tips and tricks to keep the experience safe and fun. Before you know it, you’ll be off on a whole new adventure with your pup.
Biking can be an incredibly fulfilling activity, but it doesn’t come without safety hazards for both you and your dog. While out riding, there are many potential distractions (cars, squirrels, etc.), so if you have a fearful, skittish, or reactive dog, you’ll need to work on their temperament and training before attempting to ride.
Beyond temperament, you’ll also need to consider health. Before heading out on the road with your dog, remember to check the temperature outdoors. Many dog owners are aware of the dangers of excessive heat but what might be surprising is that even mild temperatures pose a risk of heat stroke. Paws need care too, at only 77 °F, the asphalt temperature is a whopping 125 °F, too hot for a dog’s paws. For warm days, you’ll need to get a pair of doggie booties to keep those paws safe. Also, make sure to bring plenty of water and a collapsible bowl for your dog.
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Last, when riding with your dog, attach your clip to a harness, not a collar. Harnesses provide your dog with more support and will prevent neck injuries.
Remember, whether your dog is riding in a basket or running along with you, ease into rides and go at your dog’s pace. For pet owners looking to take their dog along in a carrier or trailer, take a peek at our stroller guide for step-by-step instructions on how to introduce your dog to a trailer or basket.
Baskets, Carriers, and Trailers
For small dogs, there are plenty of bike baskets available which attach to handlebars or on the rear of the bike. PetSafe has several carriers, including the Happy Ride Wicker Dog Bicycle Basket available on chewys.com. The attractive Sporty Pet Bike Basket by Snoozer is available through Amazon, which offers added storage for poop bags, leashes, and bowls. For all baskets, be sure to measure your dog and your bike before buying to ensure your selected basket fits.
For large dogs, trailers will offer your dog space and comfort. The highly-rated Tail Wagon® by Burley offers a removable floor for convenient cleaning and mesh windows for maximum airflow for your dog. While Burley’s price tag is a little steep, it makes up in performance and ease of use. Cheaper trailers are typically heavier, don’t have flat flooring, and don’t provide a smooth ride. For those looking for the convenience of a trailer but for smaller dogs, Dutch Dog Designs has a mini trailer which is an ideal solution.
Leash Attachments for Bicycling with Large Dogs
It isn’t uncommon for novices to begin biking with dogs by simply holding onto the leash while cycling, but it isn’t a good idea—believe me, I’ve been there. If you and your dog are ready, get started with a hands-free leash attachment for your bike. These dog bike leashes clamp onto the frame of the bike for an easy hands-free ride. Using a specialty attachment removes any chance of leash tangle, keeps dogs clear of pedals and gears, and reduces the risk of excessive tugging and biking accidents.
Springer America, created in 2008, is an ideal choice for a leash attachment as it has a patented safety release. They recommend introducing your dog to the bike and leash attachment by walking the bike and dog side-by-side. Be sure to reward your dog with tasty treats to add positive reinforcement to the experience.
Remember, while biking with dogs can be fun, be sure to ease into the training. Begin by taking very short trips and add 5 or 10 minutes as your dog gets accustomed to it. Don’t forget about potty breaks! Whether running along or in a basket, periodically stop to let your pup walk and get a closer sniff.