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 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 to 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 or not physically able, such as an older dog with orthopedic conditions, a small dog can accompany you on your bike by riding in a basket or special pet carrier, or if your dog is large, in a bike trailer similar to the ones used for children.
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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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.