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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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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0 Votes
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 and Success Stories

Question
Diggory
AnimalBreed object
4 Months
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Question
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Diggory
AnimalBreed object
4 Months

We got the trailer early (when he was just 2.5 months) and followed the above steps.. building it up gradually! Now, our pup is very interested in the trailer, happy getting in, doesn't immediately jump out once we stop and open the back. He is doesn't try to get outs quiet when we are not moving...But when we are moving he barks continuously.

The only thing that seems to work is giving him a kong or something for the duration of the ride.

Any advice about how to help this?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Abigail, Is he barking due to excitement about riding, fear of the movement and trailer, or because of the things he sees on the ride? If he is excited, then work on calming exercises while in the stationary trailer, like a long Place command in the trailer while it is stationary, a Quiet command, and having him lie down and stay while he rides. If he is barking because he feels nervous and is protesting the movement, then continue working on getting him used to riding but also teach him the Quiet command and practice Quiet in the trailer while it is moving; to do this, have someone slowly move the bike with the trailer attached, with pup sitting in the trailer, while another person walks beside the trailer and tells him Quiet and rewards him for getting quiet and for staying quiet. Start by rewarding him more frequently, then space treats out more as he improves and will stay quiet for longer. Once he understands how to get quiet when you say Quiet, then only reward him if he stays quiet for a few second or a few minutes - length of time depending on where in the training process you are - so that he will learn to stay quiet while riding not just bark, then pause. If he is barking because of things he sees on the ride, then work on exposing him to those things on walks and public outings more. Your goal should be for him to find the new things pleasant, but boring because he is around them so much that he gets used to them - For example, the first time you ever went on a rollercoaster you were probably really excited, but if you rode that rollercoaster every day for a month you would probably get super bored and be really calm while riding it. Lots of pleasant but calm introductions and exposures can make something more boring overtime. You can also work on the Quiet command while moving like I mentioned above, with an assistant walking beside the trailer and rewarding quietness. Finally, if it doesn't make him motion-sick, continue to give a food stuffed Kong on rides. By doing that every time, you are creating a habit of riding quietly since it's hard for him to eat and bark at the same time. Quiet method from article linked below - also check out the desensitization method for fear and reacting to things you pass: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Abi
AnimalBreed object
9 Years
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Abi
AnimalBreed object
9 Years

Abi is older now and can't walk as far as she use too. So we got a trailer for the bike. She seemed happy to get in to the trailer, sat down, we gave her treats and she was fine. Walked around with her in the trailer; praise and treats.
First ride - she cried, happy when we got to the beach, jumped back into the trailer easy but as soon as we started to ride, crying again. Help!!!
Thanks in advance, Lynne

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lynn, I suggest slowing things down a bit. Practice rewarding her with treats while another person slowly walks the bike and trailer around with her in it. Make the movements slow and the rides shorter, and reward with treats and praise and a confident attitude during the ride. Encourage her to lie down during the ride and reward that also - you can start by teaching her Down in the trailer while it is stationary. It does sound like you are off to a good start and she can likely adjust. You probably just went too quickly from introducing it to fast movement, and she needs more time to acclimate and work up to the fast movement using rewards and pushing the bike around with the trailer. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Charlie
AnimalBreed object
8 Weeks
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Charlie
AnimalBreed object
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
85 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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Question
Blanca
AnimalBreed object
9 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Blanca
AnimalBreed object
9 Months

Hello, we got a bike trailer for Blanca. She likes going in, but as soon as we close it and start riding she cries. She cries for about one minute and then she calms down. As soon as we get to a traffic light or we have to stop for any reason, she cries as she wants to get out. Help please!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Catalina, How long has the crying been going on? If it's been less than 10 rides, I would simply continue what you are doing, riding frequently, to help pup get used to the riding. Pup may simply need practice and time to adjust since the crying is for such short periods of time. Pay attention to whether pup is heavily salivating during the ride - that can be a sign of nausea and anxiety - a small amount is normal though. If pup isn't salivating heavily, pup is likely pretty relaxed while riding, which is a good sign. Pup may want to get out when you stop, not because they are fearful but because they are excited and anxious to explore. If that's the case, I suggest teaching the Quiet method from the article linked below, and anytime you let pup out of the trailer, wait until pup gets quiet for at least two seconds, before you open the trailer - so that they are learning that quiet patience is what gets them out, instead of crying. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark You can also practice stopping and starting a lot to help desensitize pup to that, waiting until they are quiet when you stop, then when they get quiet, toss a couple of treats into the trailer, then continue the ride after they eat the treats (Not too many treats and keep them small so pup's stomach doesn't get upset from the bike movement). After several stops like this, then wait until pup is quiet before letting them out also. Eventually, only reward with treats if pup stays quiet for the entire stop, opposed to crying then getting quiet after crying first - gradually increasing how long you require pup to stay quiet before you reward. When you let pup out of the trailer, train pup to exit calmly, so that pup develops the habit of staying calm during times when they are expecting to get out - the calmer feelings should help with the vocalization also if the crying is related to anxiety or excitement about getting out. When you let pup out, wait until they are quiet for a couple of seconds, then unzip the trailer, begin to open the door but each time pup tries to come out, close it again quickly. Do this over and over until pup waits inside and let's you open it all the way without rushing out. When pup is waiting patiently, take a step back to see if pup will continue to wait. If they try to rush, quickly block their way, then try the entire thing again. If they wait, calmly tell pup, "Let's Go" or Free/Okay" and lead them out with a leash if they are leashed. Having pup exit this way can change pup's emotional response about getting out of the trailer from tense to calmer. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Nova
AnimalBreed object
2 Years
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Nova
AnimalBreed object
2 Years

Hi. Great tips that you have written above, we have been through them the last two days with patient. We have no trouble getting Nova in the trailer, she seems happy to get in. The problem is when we close the zippers and start moving (just walking with the bike, we haven't gone for an actual ride yet), she then cries and barks regularly, or scratches the door to get out. We have tried giving her a bone while we move and then she is totally quiet, but as soon as she is done with the bone, she starts crying and so on. How do we get her ready and comfortable with a bikeride?

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

Thank you for the photo and question. You seem to be doing everything right - at least Nova is quiet while she has a bone. The only thing I can suggest is to continue as you are and make the sessions short, gradually lengthening them each time. After a while, you will be up to a decently long session. Some dogs do not feel well with the swaying of the trailer (even as little as that is) and it may take a while for her stomach to get used to that. But yes, keep going with the bone and sometimes when you are not going for a ride but are just in the yard, give her a bone in the trailer and let her out afterward. She just needs to learn the trailer is a fun place, and a temporary one. Good luck!

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