How to Train Your Dog to Ride a Bike with You

How to Train Your Dog to Ride a Bike with You
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-7 Days
Fun training category iconFun

Introduction

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

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!

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Bike with Leash Method

Most Recommended

9 Votes

Ribbon icon

Most Recommended

9 Votes

Ribbon icon
Bike with Leash method for How to Train Your Dog to Ride a Bike with You
1

Walk alongside your bike

Walk your dog on a regular leash alongside your bike so your dog gets used to walking with the bike, and learns not to become entangled with it. Give him a treat for walking in a controlled method beside your bike. Ensure you go over different terrain and obstacles such as curbs and through puddles just like you will when you are riding.

2

Introduce commands

While walking with your bike and dog, teach your dog some verbal cues such as slow, fast, stop, away, close, to control how fast they are going, and where they are in relation to the bike. Turn your bike, do u-turns, and start and stop abruptly. Reward your dog's good responses.

3

Introduce the bike leash

Introduce the specialized bike leash and continue walking with your dog and the bike.

4

Ride slowly

Get on your bike, and start riding slowly as your dog jogs alongside your bike. Make short trips, stop often, and praise and reward your dog for appropriate behavior, like not pulling and responding to verbal commands.

5

Increase difficulty

Work up to longer rides and more difficult situations with other cyclists, dogs and traffic.

The Basket Method

Effective

5 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

5 Votes

Ribbon icon
Basket method for How to Train Your Dog to Ride a Bike with You
1

Introduce the carrier

Attach basket or carrier to handlebars or back of your bike, as appropriate, and place your dog in the carrier. Give him a treat. If your dog shows anxiety or nervousness do not force him to stay in the carrier. Let him out, and then repeat putting them in and giving them a treat. Wait until your dog is comfortable being in the carrier before starting moving with the bike. This can take several different sessions with some dogs – resist the urge to rush them.

2

Secure leashes

Once your dog is comfortable with being placed in the basket, secure your dog in the carrier with basket leashes. At least one short leash attached to your dog's harness, which is preferable to a collar, and to the basket is required. Two basket leashes are preferable at first.

3

Walk your bike

Walk your bike with your dog in the basket. If available, have someone else walk on the dog’s other side and reassure him. Give lots of encouragement and treats.

4

Ride slowly

Start riding your bike slowly. If someone is available to run alongside and reassure your dog that is ideal. Make slow turns, starts, and stops. Go over curbs and through puddles.

5

Increase difficulty

Gradually go on longer faster rides without an assistant and with more distractions. This may take days or weeks to get your dog used to all the different situations you will come across on a bike. Work slowly, praise your dog, and reward them for riding quietly.

The Bike Trailer Method

Least Recommended

4 Votes

Ribbon icon

Least Recommended

4 Votes

Ribbon icon
Bike Trailer method for How to Train Your Dog to Ride a Bike with You
1

Introduce the trailer

Put the trailer in your yard, garage, or home and put a treat, toy, and/or favorite blanket in the trailer to get your dog used to going in and out of the trailer and enjoying his time there. Do this for several days.

2

Introduce the bike

Secure the trailer to your bike and get your dog to enter the trailer, secure him in the trailer by closing flaps, ensure there is air flow through vents or screens so they do not become overheated, or leave flaps open and secure your dog with basket leashes in the trailer. If he becomes agitated, let him out and return to step 1.

3

Walk your bike

Start by walking your bike with your dog in the bike trailer. If available, have an assistant walk alongside the trailer and reassure your dog, stopping frequently for petting and treats. If your dog appears nervous or upset, stop and allow them to exit the trailer and try again later.

4

Ride slowly

Once your dog is comfortable in the trailer with the bike moving, get on your bike and start pedaling slowly. Continue to have an assistant run alongside to reassure your dog, if possible. Do some turns and ride around, over, or through obstacles. Check your dog frequently to ensure he is not afraid or nervous, reassure and treat frequently.

5

Increase difficulty

Gradually build up to longer rides, with more speed and more distractions. Always remember to check frequently that your dog is comfortable with the activity.

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 09/19/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Mocha

Dog breed icon

Lhasa Apso

Dog age icon

2 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Which is easier to teach, biking or roller blading with a dog?

April 8, 2020

Mocha's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

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

April 9, 2020

Dog nametag icon

Red

Dog breed icon

Australian Shepherd/Golden Retriever Mix

Dog age icon

5 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

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

July 11, 2018

Red's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

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

July 11, 2018


Wag! Specialist
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.