So, you love to go biking and you would love to take your dog with you to share the experience. Or let’s say you have a dog with lots of energy, lots more than you, and you can't keep up with him on foot. Teaching your dog to run alongside your bike could give him the exercise he needs, or allowing him to ride in a carrier or trailer while you bike can be a great way to spend some time together. It looks so easy when you see other dogs and riders doing it. But wait, there are a few catches and safety issues involved biking with your dog. Taking your dog with you on your bike trips requires some careful training, practice, and equipment selection to ensure that it is safe for both you and your dog.
Many dogs and dog owners enjoy biking together by having the dog run beside the rider and bike on a leash. Before teaching your dog to run alongside your bike, first you need to determine if this is appropriate for your dog. If your dog is very small, running beside a bike may be too dangerous for him, as an accident or entanglement with the bike could result in very serious or even fatal injuries. Training your dog to run beside a bike is usually recommended for medium to large dogs that are 25 pounds or over. If you are considering training your dog to run alongside your bike you should ensure that they are physically capable of this, as young puppies that have not finished growing may find this task too strenuous on growing muscles, bones and joints, and older dogs or dogs suffering from orthopedic or other medical conditions may find this activity too strenuous. Check with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is in appropriate physical condition to participate in bike riding.
If you have a dog that is too small to run beside your bike, they can accompany you on your bike by riding in a basket or special pet carrier. If you have a dog that is not physically able to run beside you, such as an older dog with orthopedic conditions, or if your dog is too large, a bike trailer, similar to the ones used for children, is a great option.
If you are teaching your dog to run beside the bike, remember that even with a healthy, fit dog you will need to monitor the activity to ensure that you are not exceeding your dog's physical abilities. Many dogs love to run alongside their owners’ bikes, and motivating them to perform this task is not difficult, but teaching them to do so in a controlled manner can be. You do not want your dog to bolt and pull you over, or get tangled in the wheels of your bike. Training your dog to run on a leash next to your bike will need to include teaching them where it is appropriate to be positioned and not to pull on you or the bike.
To teach your dog to run beside your bike you will need equipment that ensures you and your dog’s safety. You will need appropriate equipment and to ensure that your dog is physically and mentally prepared for the task. Dogs should already be trained to respond to verbal commands prior to teaching your dog to come along for bike rides, as a dog that does not respond to commands during this activity can be seriously injured. You will need a bike in good condition, with no loose parts, or accessories sticking out, such as foot pegs, spokes or other dangers, to ensure your dog does not get caught up on extraneous equipment. A bike with wide, knobby tires is recommended for good traction, especially if you are going to be off road. Riders should wear helmets to ensure head protection, and bright clothes to ensure they are visible in traffic.
Specialized commercial leashes are available to reduce the risk of your dog pulling while you are biking. A specialized dog leash designed for bike riding with your dog is recommended to reduce the impact of a dog that decides to go off course, and keep them at an appropriate distance from your bike! Also, using a harness instead of a neck collar will minimize the chance of injury to your dog if a mishap should occur. Make sure your dog has an ID tag, in case he becomes separated from you, and reflective jackets for dogs are even available to make your dog more visible to traffic and other cyclists.
Training should start in a quiet place, free from distractions like other cyclists, or dogs, and where other traffic is not present. Teaching your dog to run with your bike or ride in a basket or trailer may take several days of short sessions. If you are teaching your dog to ride on your bike in a carrier or in a bike trailer you will need a basket or trailer that is appropriate for dogs, with the ability to attach basket leashes to secure them in the carrier while they are learning to ride along. Teaching them to respond and ride or run alongside your bike safely in more distracting environments can take many trips, building up experience slowly. Remember to bring water for your dog so they don’t dehydrate on bike trips!
He's just too scared when I put him in the basket. Is there something I can do to calm him down?
Hello Stefan, to help Bruno with his fear of the basket you can do the following. 1. Take the basket off the bike ,if it comes off, if it will not come off then place the bike on it's side on the ground. 2. Find something that he loves, such as a really tasty treat or favorite toy. 3. Place the favorite item as close to the basket as Bruno is comfortable taking the item from. When he attempts to get the item, praise him excitedly for his courage. If he is too afraid to even go near the basket then work on just getting him to come a few inches closer at a time, only decreasing the distance once he is relaxed at the current distance. If he is not afraid to approach the basket, just to get in it, then place the item up against the basket, so that he has to touch the basket to get it. 4. Once you have worked him up to being next to the basket, place the basket on its side and place the item slightly inside of the basket so that he has to reach inside to retrieve it. 5. Gradually move the item further down into the basket as he gets comfortable, until he has to reach down into the bottom of the basket or even step inside. 6 When he is completely comfortable being inside of the basket, then turn the basket back over, so that it is upright. Place Bruno inside of the basket with it sitting on the floor, and as soon as he touches the bottom of the basket lavish multiple treats on him, make the toy very exciting, or offer multiple different toys in a row. Then when he finishes the quick play or eating immediately take him out. 7. Repeat placing him in the basket and rewarding him, but increase how long you leave him in it very gradually. You can do this by spacing out the treats a couple of seconds a part or offering him different toys as he stays put. The idea is to convince him that the longer he stays in there the more wonderful things happen, so that he wants to be there rather than anywhere else. 8. Once he will stay in the basket, attach the basket back onto the bike and place him into it with the bike up right but stationary. Repeat the treats or toys with him in this position, until he is comfortable staying in the basket with it high. 9. Once he is ok with that, begin to move the bike forward a couple of inches and reward him every time there is movement. 10. Gradually increase the movement more and more over time, as long as he remains relaxed and enjoying his toys or food. When doing all of this be sure to only progress as long as he remains relaxed and is interested in the reward item. If he will not take the food or toy he may be stressed and you need to slow down your progress or go back a step. It can also help some dogs if you do lots of ten to fifteen minute long sessions rather than fewer longer sessions. Also be careful not to let him fall or jump out of the basket while he is learning. The more afraid he is, the more patient you will have to be with him to help him relearn how to feel about being in a bicycle basket. Enjoy training, Caitlin Crittenden, professional dog trainer
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just starting to ride with Spike. Taking care not to over do it. For the meanwhile I am riding on the neighborhood roads- limited traffic. I am also riding towards cars. Should i be riding towards cars or with the flow of cars? How should I transition to main roads?
Hello Colin, Legally you are supposed to face the same direction as traffic when you are riding in the road because you are considered a vehicle and not a pedestrian when riding in the road. So switch the direction that you are facing. When you are walking you are correct to face traffic though. You are also required to follow the same laws that cars are, such as stopping at lights and stop signs when you are on a bike in the road. It is safest to ride on the far right hand side of the road, closer to the sidewalk, so that cars can pass around you more easily when needed. Because your dog will be with you you will be wider than a usual bike, so I would advise you to avoid roads with heavy traffic in general. Busy roads can also be scary for dogs because of the speed of the cars going by and potential honking. Look for roads in your area with bike lanes. These are ideal. Also look for slower roads or roads in more rural areas that you can ride on, especially where the speed limit is lower. Some town square's have great bike access areas and biking lanes or separate trails for bikes altogether. Another place to look is old railway tracks that have been converted into paved roads for bikers and hikers. Not all states have these, but if yours does it can be a great place to ride. First I would recommend practicing in neighborhoods more, but this time face the same direction as the cars so that your dog can get used to the cars coming up from behind him. Make sure that you stay to the far right so that cars can go around you easily, and make sure that you are very visible. I do not recommend riding at night or in poor lighting. If you ever do though, purchase the correct lighting equipment for both you and your dog. It is important for people to be able to see him too. To transition your dog to street roads, do what you are doing now, except change your direction so that you are going with traffic, and choose roads where the speed limit is slow, there is good visibility, and enough room for cars to easily go around you. As your dog becomes more comfortable with that, then you can work up to slightly busier areas if you want to, choosing roads that are only slightly busier than the ones you rode on before. The key is to transition your dog gradually, making sure that he has mastered the current locations before moving onto slightly harder ones. Because bike riding around cars can be dangerous it is best to go slow with this type of training and let him master each situation completely before moving onto the next situation. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My dog is having difficulty becoming accustomed to my bike. He is a rescue, and I am not sure about his previous biking experiences. I have worked with him slowly to the point where he will comfortably walk alongside my bicycle while I walk alongside it, but he will not walk while I ride it! The moment that I hop on the bike, even if I do not pedal and keep pushing with my feet, he obstinately stops and/or lies down. No degree of prodding or coaxing will push him to walk until I get off the bike entirely. I thoroughly enjoy biking, and for my dog's fitness, it would be an easy way for us to exercise together. What would you recommend for us to improve to riding? Thanks a ton
Hello Carson, Recruit an assistant to help you and go to a calm location where you can hold onto something while you are on your bike. Get on the bike with Red next to you and slowly move forward. You can do this pushing off the ground to start with. You may want to lower your seat down all the way so that you can touch the ground more easily. Have your assistant walk directly behind Red, no more than a foot behind him. If Red stops, then have her walk into him, bumping him with her legs until he gets up and keeps moving. When he moves, then have her feed him wonderful treats, such as chicken or cheese while he is moving. As soon as the "Bike Ride" stops, stop feeding him treats, so that the treats will only be associated with the bike ride. Practice this until you no longer need an assistant and he is comfortable walking next to the bike on his own. When he can do that at a slow pace, then gradually increase your speed overtime as he improves and shows that he is ready. If you have not already gotten him used to a bike moving without a person on it, then do the same exercise but start by standing next to the bike and moving it along with him on the other side of it. When he can do that, then move onto riding it slowly with your friend's help. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Which is easier to teach, biking or roller blading with a dog?
Hello, Whichever object pup is least worried about is generally the easier one. Most of the time pup will be more cautious of the bike, so that will take longer, but with a large dog, you may have pulling issues with the roller blades that makes it harder. With a smaller dog like yours, roller blades will likely be easier to start with if the expectation is for pup to run alongside you - not pull you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi Hannah! -Alisha
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Ricky was a bit nervous the first time I put him in a backpack, but as soo. As he realized he was going to go on a bike ride he relaxed because he always hated being left behind. He has ridden up to 40 miles at a time and loves every minute, especially when he gets to look down at Ground Dogs.
amora is a lovely dog
Daisy has very little play drive. I tried everything. I love to cycle so....a light went off. I purchased a walkydog leash extension designed to fit on any bicycle. You can’t be tipped over if Daisy wants to chase a squirrel or rabbit. We started out slow but now she loves it. She’s in great shape and as soon as she sees the bike she waggles away. Great bonding. And it’s great exercise for me too.