How to Train Your Dog to Ride in a Bike Trailer

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Fun

Introduction

If you have been out on the bike trails around your home recently, you are sure to have seen all the pooches sitting comfortably in a trailer being towed behind their owner's bike. While this might seem to be a bit on the "cute" side, when you take a look at the big picture, it can be a great way to take your pup along with you for the ride. Cycling is a great sport and very good for your health, but if you stop along the way and let your pup get out to run beside you, it can be great for his health too.

Dogs love to be out in the fresh air with their owners; they love to run, walk, jump and play. But often the distances you travel on your bike would simply be too much for your pup to handle. Can you imagine trying to make your dog run or walk the 20 miles you have planned for your next ride? It would not only be exhausting, it would destroy his pads and feet. A dog bike trailer offers you the perfect solution to the problem and gives you and your pup a chance to enjoy the great outdoors together. 

Defining Tasks

The basic concept is to train your pup to enjoy riding in a doggy bike carrier (note that these are very similar to those used to carry small children). This should be a lot of fun for both of you and once your pup gets used to the trailer, he will soon be begging you to go for a ride every chance he gets. Imagine how much fun the two of you can have when you put your pup in the trailer and head out to the local dog park.

Be sure you get a trailer made for dogs, these are made from materials that are much easier to clean than those made for children. Many come with a removable washable floor pan that can be rinsed out with a hose. This can come in really handy if you go for a ride on days when the play area is muddy or if your pup happens to have an "accident" while you are going down the trail. 

Getting Started

It doesn't take much to train your dog to ride in a bike trailer beyond having the desire to take him with you whenever you have a chance to get out and go for a bike ride. You will, of course, need a few treats, a doggy bike trailer, and time to go out for a ride. The more time you can take to go for a ride, the faster your pup will master this relatively simple and fun activity.

Always remember that training like this should be fun. If your pup seems nervous or scared, let him take all the time he needs to get used to the trailer before proceeding. If you try to push too hard, your pup may balk at the idea and never want to go for a ride with you. Should this happen, you may ruin any chance at going for fun rides together. 

The Starting Inside Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Build it inside
Start by assembling the trailer without the wheels and set it in a convenient place in your home where your pup can see it, sniff it, get in and out of it, and basically just get used to it.
Step
2
If he won't go in
If your pup won't go inside the trailer, try tossing his favorite toys or a treat inside and give him plenty of time to decide when he goes in. Once he goes in, be sure praise him and give him more treats.
Step
3
Moving on out
Once your pup is used to his new trailer, go ahead and take it outside and put the wheels on it. Then hitch the trailer to your bike.
Step
4
Getting him in the trailer
Call your pup and tell him to get in the trailer. If he doesn't, try the toy or treat again. Have him repeat going in and out several times until he has become thoroughly used to doing so.
Step
5
Secure and ready to go
Once he is used to getting in and out of the trailer, connect his leash to the internal loop fastener. Close the door and open the rollback top so he can stand up and see what's going on.
Step
6
Go for a short ride
Your first ride with your pup should be a nice short one that lets both of you get used to the whole thing. Keep the ride nice and slow and avoid anything that might jostle your pup such as potholes, curbs, and rough roads.
Step
7
Extend the ride
Extend the length of your rides each time you go out until you can go anywhere with your pup in the trailer and both of you are having fun going wherever you please.
Recommend training method?

The Lay Down Method

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Step
1
Set up
Set up your pup's bike trailer in a spot where it can set for a few days, like the corner of your living room.
Step
2
Using a treat
Using one of your pup's favorite treats, lure him into the trailer. If he hops right back out, that's okay. Most dogs are not happy at first-- the trailer can make them feel trapped. If he stays in the trailer, give him a treat and plenty of praise. If he hops out, repeat this process until you can get him to go into the trailer easily.
Step
3
Command words
You can use a command word like "in" for this or you may want to teach your pup to get in the trailer when you say "wanna go for a bike ride?", it's up to you.
Step
4
Make it comfy
Make the inside of the trailer comfortable for your pup by adding a blanket or pillow and repeat the training process adding the command to 'lay down'.
Step
5
Pull the trailer
Start getting your pup used to the moving trailer by pulling it around the yard before you hitch it up to your bike. Then attach the bike and walk it around the yard. Finally, once your pup is used the motion, hop on your bike and go for a short, slow ride. Once he is used to all of this, you can take him out for your next real bike ride and both of you should have a blast.
Recommend training method?

The Introduction Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Start the introductions
Start by bringing the trailer into the house and introducing your dog to it. Let him sniff it, look at it, get in and out of it-- use treats if needed. The more he gets used to it now, the easier it will be to get him in it outside.
Step
2
Meet my bike
Hook the trailer and bike together and then bring your dog over to the combination, let him walk around and get used to the whole setup.
Step
3
In the trailer
Have your dog get into the trailer, secure his leash, and zip up the doors. Make sure any vents or screened windows are open, so he gets plenty of fresh air. If he starts to get upset, take him out and go back through the whole getting used to it process again.
Step
4
Go for a walk
Don't just hop on your bike and start pedaling away. Instead, walk the bike slowly while giving your dog plenty of praise. Stop and give him treats frequently and heap on the praise.
Step
5
Slow ride, take it easy
Next, it's time to go for a ride. Start out nice and slow, allowing your pup to get used to the increase in speed. Do a few turns, try a few bumps, maybe even a few obstacles, constantly checking to make sure your pup is okay.
Step
6
Add speed slowly
Slowly build up your riding speed, adding in a few distractions along the way until you and your pup can go anywhere you want and have a great time.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Teddy
Staffy
2 Years
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Question
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Teddy
Staffy
2 Years

Teddy is dog reactive. Isn’t vocal but if a dog gets within a short distance he will whimper and strain at the very end of the lead. We are trying to deter with treats but he zones us out. Can you recommend any other way of breaking his fixed focus

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ailene, If pup aggressive toward other dogs? If so, I would see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class you can drive within driving distance of you. Those classes are designed for dog reactive/aggressive dogs, and all the dogs wear basket muzzles in class and through structured obedience and intensive socialization the dogs are worked through their reactivity. If pup is not aggressive, but simply overly excited or reactive, check out the Passing Approach method. I would not make your goal for the dogs to meet in your case, but simply recruit friends with well mannered dog, or work with a trainer and their dog, to do the passes at a far enough distance pup can succeed repeatedly. The repeats and control over the distance help the other dog become boring, so that with repetition and structured obedience incorporated, pup is less excited about the dog, opposed to passing lots of different dogs. As pup responds more calmly and ignore the other dog, you can then reward that calm body language and focus on you. This needs to be practiced with lots of different dogs, working around just one dog at a time until pup is good passing that dog, before starting over again with another dog - so pup learns how to associate dogs in general with their new calmness and focus on you, instead of being good around just the one other dog you practiced around. For this reason, it can be easier to work with a training group that has access to multiple well mannered dogs, like the trainers' dogs. Be sure to ask about access to other dogs and how many for training sessions with any trainer you pursue. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bailey
Beagle
10 Months
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Question
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Bailey
Beagle
10 Months

He’s brilliant goes in and out no problem at all
But as soon as I get on the bike and ride he’s never stops barking and howling and digging to get out.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, did you start off slowly? At first, just move Bailey in the trailer a few feet several times over a few days. Then, walk him in the trailer just around the yard, a few times over a couple of days. Next, put him in the trailer and walk him on the street with the trailer attached to the bike. Next step, bike to the corner and back over a few days. It's a very gradual process for some. For others, it never works because they cannot feel at ease with the motion. He is young yet and many puppies have motion sickness. If all else fails, head to the shop where you bought the trailer and see if they have any pointers, or ask around at the dog park. All the best and good luck!

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Question
Polka
Mixed
5 Years
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Question
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Polka
Mixed
5 Years

Hello, I bought a bike trailer 2 month ago. We strarted to practice for 10-15 min rides in our street, took about 5 times. Dudring the ride she is crying, but not constantly. Yesterday we had two 35 min A to B ride. She was crying continuously. When we came back she was crying again. I tried to drive slow and tried to calm her verbally, but it was unsuccesfull, especially during the back way. Between the two rides, she was simming in a river and had a big fun. After both rides she was happy again. What would you recommend?

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Question
Napoleon and Hampton
Chihuahua
8 Years
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Question
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Napoleon and Hampton
Chihuahua
8 Years

My dogs bark a lot and seem anxious in the trailer. Especially the chihuahua. It’s weird though because when he sees the trailer he actually wants to get in. I think he knows we are going for a ride and that he’s coming with, which he wants to do. But once we ride, my husband pulls them and i ride behind, they cant stop tipping and barking! You’d swear we are torturing them. We only go for very short rides and bring them out at the park with treats and toys so we try to make it pleasant. But we’d love to go for longer rides to the beach. I think the older dog, the poodle, reacts to the chihuahuas energy. I also think it’s cause they can see me? But if I move to ride in front then they can’t see me and get even louder. Not sure what to do. PS. The chi is VERY attached to me.

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Question
Charlie
Belgian Shepherd
8 Weeks
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Question
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Charlie
Belgian Shepherd
8 Weeks

Hello, we just got our 8 week old puppy. She isn’t ready to run with us while we bike. So, I wanted to get a trailer and take her with us. What age can she sit in the trailer with us while we bike?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. Because Charlie is so young, I would give your vet a call and ask them for advice. They can best judge based on Charlie's size and temperament. For sure, you will want her to feel comfortable and not afraid. Start slowly and pull her around the yard first. You may see then how well she reacts, and that, along with the vet's recommendation, can tell you if she is ready. Enjoy your new pup!

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