Biking with your dog is a great way to spend time with your pup and enjoy the great outdoors together. But taking your pooch along for the ride can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. Before you head out on a biking adventure, make sure the trip is safe for your dog.
Is It Safe to Ride a Bike with a Dog?
Riding a bike with your four-legged friend is a fun activity to do with your dog, but many people worry that it’s not safe. However, as long as you take the proper precautions, stay aware, and use the right gear, you can safely bike with your dog.
7 Essential Tips for Biking with Your Dog
Before you start pedaling, look through these tips to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your dog safe.
1. Start with Basic Training
You know your dog better than anybody. If your pup tends to get excitable and doesn’t listen to basic commands, they’re not ready for a bike ride. (At least not yet.)
Before you do anything else, revisit basic training with your pup. If you need some help in this department, ask your vet for trainer recommendations or check out the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).
Teach your dog simple commands like sit, stay, stop, come, and heel to set the foundation for future obedience. Training is a great bonding opportunity for you and your dog, and it also helps your pup understand expectations.
Once your dog has the basics down, work on walking your dog. Unless your furry pal already has perfect leash skills, it’s time to polish their behavior when out and about on a walk. After your dog is a pro with walking, kick things up a notch.
Take your dog on a short run and let them get used to the faster speed. Having your dog run next to you is an especially good forerunner to biking if you plan to have them run alongside the bike.
2. Prep for Distractions and Bring Treats Along for the Ride
Once your dog is used to going for a walk or run, it’s time to approach adding them to your bike ride. Part of this process is ensuring your dog adapts and responds well to distractions.
Whether heading around the block, to the park, or to the nearest bike path, you’ll encounter lots of people, other dogs, loud noises, cars, etc. Luckily, teaching your dog to respond to distractions is part of training them to walk and run with you. So, you’ll likely already be a step ahead by this point.
Many of the things your dog sees when on a walk or a run they’ll see during bike rides, too. However, it never hurts to bring along a little extra assurance and motivation. In other words, don’t leave home without the treats. Always have a handful of treats in your pocket or somewhere you can access them quickly while on your bike.
Encourage and praise your dog for good behavior throughout the ride. And don’t hesitate to use a few tasty treats to refocus your pup if and when something distracts them.
3. Get the Proper Gear
When you start biking, you get supplies and gear to make the most of your new activity. Obviously, you get a bike, but you also buy a helmet, knee pads, a bike horn, reflectors, and a basket to hold things. You get the idea.
If you plan to bring your dog bike riding, you’ll need to add some gear to your collection. What you need depends on how your dog plans to participate in the activity. Is your dog going to jog alongside the bike or sit in a bike trailer or basket?
If you have a larger dog in good health, then running alongside the bike is a great way for them to get exercise. Your dog needs a comfortable harness and a hands-free, bungee leash to join in on the fun.
But puppies, older dogs, small dogs, and those with health problems or injuries are better off in a bike basket or bike trailer. If you’re unsure what your dog can handle, talk to your vet before starting a doggy-and-me bike plan.
4. Let Your Dog Get Used To the Bike and Extra Parts
Once you know how your dog will participate in the bike ride, it’s time for them to get used to your bike (before it’s rolling). If you’re using a bike trailer or basket, let your pup investigate these items too. You can simply set them up in your den and let your pup sniff and explore.
When they sit in the basket or trailer, reward them with treats and praise. When they get close to your bike and remain calm, do the same. After your dog seems used to the gear, it’s time to put things into action. But not too fast.
5. Pace Yourself
As with any new activity with your dog, start slow and steady. If your pup is running alongside you, start with walking your bike next to you. Go a short distance. Work up to walking with the bike between your legs.
Eventually, start riding your bike slowly and go for short rides with your pup. Give plenty of praise and treats. If your dog’s riding in a basket or trailer, make sure they’re secure, give them a treat, then begin pedaling slowly.
As your pet becomes more confident and at ease, you can begin increasing the duration of your bike rides. But always watch your dog and stop if they start to seem uneasy or anxious.
6. Take Breaks
You might be used to biking for ten miles a day, but that doesn’t mean your pup wants to. Take frequent breaks, give your dog water often (a collapsible bowl is a must), and make potty stops. Don’t forget to bring fresh water for your pup and poop bags to clean up after your pet.
7. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
Always be on the lookout when you’re riding your bike with your dog. Scan the horizon for upcoming potential problems, check the weather, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion. If you notice anything that could be an issue, be proactive. Stop riding or change course to prevent a problem before it happens.
Three Barks for Bike Rides!
Bringing your dog along on a bike ride is a great way to experience the outdoors together and build your bond. Stay safe by making sure you take the time to train your dog on the basics first.
Know your pet and don’t expect them to go beyond their limits. Decide if riding in a bike trailer or basket would be better for your pup, and get the right gear for the job. Stay vigilant and alert to your surroundings and how your dog is doing during the ride, taking breaks as needed.
For more helpful tips on how to spend time with your pet and keep them safe, check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog. There’s always something new to learn and discover to make you a super pet parent.