That’s it! I bike often and I walk my dog often. So… What about doing these at the same time? Easy right? hmm… Actually, it’s not that easy as you may think.
There are many reasons to take our dogs with us when we go bike riding; one of them is that we just don’t want to leave them at home feeling sad, another is that we want them to exercise with us and we want to shake things up. Either way, it’s a good idea! All we need to do is figure out the right way to do it!
We want our bike rides to be comfortable and fun for both ourselves and our dogs. That’s why we need to understand what it takes for them to be comfortable riding along with us and take those things into consideration when we bring them along.
That’s the purpose of today’s article. We’re going to take a look at the best ways to ride a bike with our best friends and we’re also going to see what are the things that can help us make the ride smooth and fun for everyone involved. Let’s get started!
Make Sure That Your Dog Is Ready
The first thing you need to do is make sure that your dog can handle this type of exercise. Even if your dog appears to be very healthy, active, and energetic, you still need to keep in mind that it will be challenging for him.
You’re basically introducing your dog to a new exercising routine, and just like it happens with us humans, we need to start slowly with that demanding workout.
If your dog is overweight or already has any other health problems that you’re aware of, you need to think about the best way to introduce a new exercise routine or activity such as bike riding. Some dogs need to start with an easy walking routine and then go from there.
Size, Age and Breed Matters!
Size, age and breed are three important things you need to consider if you’re thinking about biking with your dog.
Biking is recommended for dogs that weight at least 25lbs and are at least one and a half years old.
- If your dog weighs less than that or if they’re in their senior years, you should consider a different activity to share with them even if they’re high-energy dogs. The last thing you want to do is push your dog beyond their limits or hurt them by using certain products that are just not meant for dogs of small build, like bike leashes.
- Now, breed matters as well because there are dogs that are just born for this kind of high-energy, strenuous activity. Dogs such as Border Collies, Siberian Huskies, and Jack Russell Terriers are great examples of lively, enthusiastic dogs that will just love the challenge of running along as you bike. You really do have to take their personality into account. The point is that you both enjoy the ride!
- Another thing to keep in mind is their age. I already mentioned above that the minimum age should be one and a half years old. That’s because your dog must have complete musculoskeletal development or you risk injuring their growing bones and joints. This process is complete at 18 months for medium or small dogs, and at two years for large dogs. This is where the veterinary check comes in handy, so it’s not something you can skip.
Introduce Your Dog to the Activity
Now that you’re good to go, you have to start introducing your dog to your bike. You can’t just jump right into it; you have to start by walking your bike along with your dog when you take him outside. That way, they’ll start getting familiar with the object.
You’ll have to be patient from the very beginning! Don’t expect your dog to go for long distances at first or to instantly follow your pace. Dogs need to get used to a new exercise routine as much as we do when we try something new at the gym. Start with walking speed, easy paths, short distances, and gradually build up from there.
You’ll also have to be very aware of your dog on these first few rides; stop and give them a drink if they start panting heavily, slowing down, drooling, losing coordination, or looking tired in general. Don’t speed up in the beginning because remember that your dog is not used to it, and accidents can happen if your dog decides to go its own way, stop, or get distracted by something.
Also, remember to encourage them and congratulate them for their efforts!
A Little Training
If you want your dog to be a good companion, you need to teach him properly.
- First of all, he should be familiarized with the bike both stationary and moving and with any equipment you might use. Some dogs are particularly uncomfortable around bikes. So take your bike and call your dog to you; allow him to sniff while you praise, pet and treat him to reward him for being brave and giving it a shot. Do this sort of presentation indoors, in a familiar place.
- The next thing you’ll need to do is lay the bike on the floor and repeat the process. You can also try putting treats on the tires, pedals or frame of the bike and play around it so your dog can associate it with positive feelings. The next step would be to take a few steps with your bike and call your dog to follow. Continue this indoor practice and keep introducing your dog to all of the different things; the harness, the leash, etc.
- Once you know your dog is comfortable and familiar with all of these things, it’s time to take it outside. Every time you go on a walk with your dog, bring the bike along and attach him to it. Distract him by walking over a curb, the lawn, a puddle, a speed bump, etc. Start moving your bike so your dog gets used to the wobble, make turns, walk, and alternate your pace.
- If you notice that your dog is really uncomfortable, you’re moving too fast. So take a step back and retrace. It might take a few days for them to get used to it, but they will. Once they do, it’s time to start teaching them commands to guide them when you ride; commands can be “slow”, “stop”, “easy”, “turn”, and “leave it” for when they get distracted.
Make sure that these commands are words that are specific to you and your dog so that they won’t be confused if they hear those words coming from other people around. In time, your dogs will be so familiar with these commands that eventually they’ll start anticipating your actions.
What’s The Necessary Equipment?
There are a few essential pieces of equipment you’ll need in order to go out riding a bike with your dog. These essentials include:
- a non-tangling lead
- a comfortable body harness
- a reflective vest (or just put on reflective tape on your dog’s regular vest)
- water bottles and treats for you and your dog
Other extras that can come in handy are:
- blinking lights for both your dog and your bike
- a small first aid kit
- a bike lead baton which is attached to the bike to hold the lead and keep the dog away from the wheels—that way you won’t have to hold the lead up by the handlebars
- reflective rain gear
- cold weather cover-ups or cooling vests; depending on the weather
How to Ride a Bike with My Dog?
One of the ways to ride with your dog is by letting him run alongside you without a leash. Now, this depends on how reliable and well-trained your dog is, and also on the location of your ride. If there’s too much traffic around, then it’s better to be safe and use a leash. If your dog is unpredictable, the same principle applies.
Unpredictable dogs and biking can lead to quite a few risks. If you’re holding a leash or your dog is tied to the bike, any sudden jolt is an accident waiting to happen. That’s why it’s so important to teach your dog commands and to always be aware of your dog and your surroundings. More often than not you can tell if they’re getting distracted; that’s where commands come in handy to get their attention back on track.
If you’re riding with an unpredictable dog, I recommend you get a specialized leash because that will guarantee a certain level of protection from pedals, wheels, and traffic that a regular leash won’t be able to provide. These specialized leashes attach to either the seat post or the rear axle of the bike so your hands are free. The coiled springs are shock absorbers and they reduce the force of any unexpected tug or jolt from your dog.
What Can I Use To Make The Ride More Comfortable For My Dog?
Apart from specialized leashes, there are a few other things you can use to help make your ride more comfortable for your dog and for yourself. Which one of these options you choose will depend on the size of your dog and, of course, your budget.
The go-to option for small dogs is a basket or a carrier that can be easily attached to the handlebars or back rack of any standard bicycle. You can check current price on here. Remember that small dogs don’t have that much stamina even if they are indeed high-energy. They won’t be able to ride along with you for long and you’ll have to ride slow enough for them to be comfortable and not push them to their limits. So, you can let them ride with you for a little bit and as soon as they get tired, you can put them in their basket and continue your ride without worry.
Specialized dog trailers are another great option. Check current price of my choice dog trailer by clicking here.These are meant for medium to large dogs and their features can vary widely so make sure you get a dog trailer that suits your dog perfectly. Take into consideration the following: size—make sure your dog can both sit up and lie down, they shouldn’t be cramped, the hitch—this affects how the trailer moves on the road, the handling—it has to move properly behind you, the flooring—it has to stay in place and not scrunch up, and the portability—make sure your trailer can be easily transported.
Is It Safe To Ride A Bike With My Dog?
When it comes to biking with your dog, safety will depend entirely on your caution. You have to exercise your best judgment when it comes to taking your dog out for a ride with you. Our dogs go to great lengths to please us, so we have to take care of them. Let them set the pace and limit the distances until your dog is properly conditioned to the activity.
You have to be very responsible about the length of your ride, the products you use, and the precautions you take. Make sure that you bring enough water and treats with you. It’s also very important that you don’t extend your leash too far because you want to be in control of your dog to ensure your safety and that of others. If you’re riding in a crowded place, stick to a light trot.
Overall, just make sure that your dog is prepared, use the right equipment, and respect other people on your ride.
Tips for Riding with Your Dog
Teamwork: Train your dog in directional commands as your dog gets more and more used to biking with you. The point of these commands is to teach your dog what you want him to do; this will allow him to become more confident which will lead to you working as a team. The point is not to just take your dog for a ride; the point is to share the experience by working together.
Beware of summer heat! Since the temperature goes up in the summer, it’s important to keep it in mind and only bike with your dog during the cooler parts of the day and also shorten the distance of the ride. You’ll need to take into account the surface your dog will be walking on. If it’s pavement, check the temperature yourself; if it’s too hot for your skin, it’s too hot for their pads.
Don’t forget to bring water, take frequent breaks, and maybe take cooling pads or wet towels along so you can cool your dog down on the way home. Maybe even consider getting a cooling vest for your dog; that way you won’t have to take that much extra stuff on the ride.
Be observant and keep an eye out for signs of exhaustion or overheat. If it comes to that, the best way to cool your dog down is to start from the bottom—paws, legs, underside, head and neck—and work your way up. Spray them with cool water and get them to a cool place as soon as possible. Also, don’t think twice about taking them to the vet if you’re feeling worried.
Beware of rough surfaces! Even if their paws are tougher than our feet, they can also be sensitive to rough surfaces. Especially so if they’re only starting to bike! The ideal surface is either grass or dirt, but that’s not always possible, so make sure you help your dog build up his tolerance to rough surfaces. Consider getting your dog booties or a pad conditioning wax, and mix up the terrain if it’s possible. Avoid chipped asphalt!
Don’t ride too far: You can’t throw your dog at the deep end of the pool from the beginning. You have to gradually increase their stamina, so you should increase your riding distance 5 to 10 percent at a time, every 4 or 6 sessions. Once you reach, say, 2 miles, allow for a rest day every other day so your dog’s muscles can rejuvenate.
A specialized dog leash for bikes will add to the safety of your ride. That’s why I’m pointing you towards the Walky Dog Plus Hands-Free Dog Bicycle Exerciser Leash. For less than $60 you’ll get a high-quality leash that will make you and your dog feel a lot more comfortable on your rides. This high carbon stainless steel leash is sturdy and you can install it on any bike. Thanks to its Quick Release patented design it will only take you 5 minutes!
This leash has a military grade paracord 550lbs pull strength, a 7 strand inner core, it’s UV fade and rot resistant so you know it will have a long life. It also comes with a shock-absorbing system and quick release so you can detach your dog quickly. This Walky Dog leash is adjustable and above all, reliable, which makes it a sound choice.
If you liked the idea of using a dog trailer, here’s a good option: the PetEgo Comfort Wagon Dog Bike Trailer. This Italian trailer designed by Emanuele Bianchi comes in medium and large sizes; the medium trailer measures 34″L x 18″W x 22″H (wheel to wheel: 28”), while the large one measures 35″L x 26″W x 24″H (wheel to wheel: 35.5”).
The trailer has an aluminum frame that makes a sturdy, strong trailer without adding extra weight. After all it only weighs 30 pounds and it’s very comfy! The suspension offers your dog a smooth and luxurious ride. It also converts into a pet house thanks to its easily removable wheels for when you reach your destination or decide to have a break on the road. The mesh is high-quality and claw proof so you know it won’t be quickly ruined. Overall, this is a great choice and you’ll get a lot of quality and durability for your money!
If you’re thinking of buying a basket for your little buddy to be comfortable on your rides, you might want to consider the Solvit Tagalong Pet Bicycle Basket. This is a very practical basket and it features a unique bracket system that will allow you take it on and off very quickly and with just one hand! The bracket also includes a three-way adjustability so you can make sure it properly fits on any bicycle without getting in the way of the brakes.
The design of the basket is stylish and simple, and it includes a reflective stripe for safety. Its large zippered pockets are perfect to store treats, water bottles, leashes, keys, sunglasses, and more. It also includes a shoulder strap so you can convert the basket into a carrier. The adjustable safety leash that comes with it will also keep your dog secure while riding!
The Deluxe Tagalong is made out of polyester and it can hold up to 13lbs. The interior dimensions are 13.5”L x 10”W x 10.5”H and the overall dimensions of the basket are 16”L x 12”W x 11”H. It weighs 6lbs and it also offers a lifetime warranty which is always a sign of a high-quality product. For less than $40 you can offer your small dog a nice basket!
Today we learned that there are a lot of factors and a lot of bases to cover when it comes to taking our dogs bike riding with us. The good thing is that it’s completely worth it! Bonding over exercising and fun is never a bad idea and it’s always worth the extra effort.
Once you do everything you need to do to make sure that you and your dog will be safe and comfortable, bike riding together can quickly become a favorite activity and it’s a great exercise routine for the both of you! Don’t be afraid to give it a chance and let me know how it goes.