Biking is a great way to get the exercise that you need, but what about your canine companion? You don't want to leave him at home alone. Have you heard the common misconception that biking isn't safe for dogs? Biking with dogs can actually be a great way for you both to get the exercise that you need, and with the proper precautions it can be safe and fun.
One of our dogs has a heart condition that limits her ability for exercise. She really shouldn't do anything more strenuous than brisk walking, so we need to be careful about the activities that we plan for her. Our other dog, an 8-month old chocolate lab, is on the other end of the spectrum.
Saddie is full of energy, which is quite common for a lab. We were hoping that the older she got the more calm she would become. Although we have a long way to go, so far it seems that each day she wakes up with a bit more energy than she had the day before.
Finding ways to burn that energy off can sometimes be a challenge.
Biking with dogs is a great way to help pups like Saddie burn some of their excess energy. You can control the speed of the bike to meet your dog's needs. Saddie loves to run, but I can't keep up with her on foot. She knows that when we go for a bike ride she can run as fast as she wants until she gets tired.
When I'm on the bike Saddie knows she can set the pace, which isn't possible if I'm on foot.
You should see her face when I get out the hands free leash. She knows that means that we are going for a bike ride and she gets so excited. She's learned to wait until we get out of our driveway, but as soon as we get onto the road she starts to run. It makes her happy!
She sprints for about a quarter of a mile and then starts to slow down. She walk and sniff for a bit and then she'll start running again. She loves it, and it's much easier for me. Biking with dogs is a fun way for the two of you to enjoy some time together.
7 Best Blogs About Biking with Dogs
I've had a lot of friends and neighbors ask me about bicycling with dogs. Most people think it is dangerous, but that's simply not true. Like any other activity you do with your pet, it can be dangerous if you don't have the right equipment and you don't take the proper safety precautions.
This week I wanted to look at blog posts from dog owners and experts about biking with dogs. It's actually a lot easier than you may think to train your pet to walk or run beside your bicycle. Caitlin Giddings wrote a very nice article for bicycling.com about introducing your dog to biking.
This blog post explains her own troubles with biking with dogs and how her terrier had grown to think of two-wheeled vehicles as his sworn enemy. She gives a great explanation of the desensitization process and how you can teach your dog that bicycles are not a threat.
- Early exposure can be critical to acclimate a chase-prone puppy to being around bicycles. But what do you do with an adult dog that's already hardwired to consider bicyclists prey?
2. Responsible Dog
Once you know that your isn't nervous around bicycles or aggressive toward them, the training can begin. You can't just attach a leash to your dog, jump on your bicycle and go. It's not that easy.
In this blog post from Responsible Dog, you can learn what happens when a dog is not properly trained to follow beside a bicycle.
- On occasion, I have observed dogs being biked that do not appear trained. In these few instances, the red flags are dogs not running smoothly; they appear jumpy, running out in front of the front bicycle wheel. Biking dogs for exercise should require the same type of considerations we use when starting an exercise program. We want exercise to be enjoyable if not fun, but we also want to avoid injuries, this means we should put a little thought into the activity.
As I said, biking with dogs is very strenuous exercise, even if you don't pedal fast and your pup can just trot along. You shouldn't even begin training your dog to walk next to your bike until you have him examined by your veterinarian.
As this article from PetMD explains, even dogs who seem to be in the best health may have an underlying condition that could limit his activity level. It also talks about the importance of making sure that your pet is physically fit before begin an exercise regiment like this one.
- But even if your dog appears to be in the best of health, you should have your veterinarian check your dog over before starting a new exercise routine like jogging — which is essentially what this is. You will want to be sure that your dog doesn’t have any underlying conditions that could be worsened by strenuous exercise. Also, if your dog is overweight, jogging is usually not the best way to begin a new routine; it needs to be built up to with a regular walking routine first.
4. Paws and Pedals
PawsandPedals is great blog filled with excellent tips about biking with dogs. The most basic of these posts is entitled “How to Bike with a Dog.” It's an in depth blog post with a lot of really nice photographs. It covers all the essential “must know” things before biking with dogs.
Many blogs focus on the dog, which of course should be your top priority, but this post also touches on the importance of making sure your bicycle is up for the job.
- Is it safe enough? Gears – check, tires – check, brakes – check, safety helmet – check! It also helps if you’re a confident cyclist. Ensure that you and your bike are ready for the road trip. Keep your dog on the side that is away from traffic – if your dog pulls then it should take you away from the road, not into it.
There is also a Part 2 to this post, which goes into more specifics about the equipment that the author uses. She not explains the type of equipment, but she also talks about how she attaches it to her bike. Not all equipment has to be attached to the same part of your bike.
Many things, like the leash, can be attached anywhere that you find comfortable. The author of this blog describes how and why she chooses to attach the leash below her bicycle's seat.
- I’ve learnt that the best place to attach the leash is underneath my bike seat. This appears to be the closest to my center of gravity and enables me to maintain balance if my dog pulls or does anything unusual. To attach the leash onto the bike I use another EzyDog accessory – the car restraint. By taking my bike’s seat off I slip the belt part onto my seatpost and make it sit above my rear reflector. You need to keep this part high on the seatpost because if the attachment slips down the leash can become entangled with the back tire. My leg and body remain in front of the leash once attached. I find that my leg acts as a brace if my dog pulls and keeps my dog enough distance away from my bike.
5. Boingy Dog
There are many other tips and tricks that you should keep in mind when biking with dogs too. BoingyDog is a blog about the active adventures of an urban mutt. This post shares the details of a mountain biking adventure, and the importance of proper hydration while exercising with your pet.
Adventures like biking trips are exciting and your dog may become distracted during pit stops. New sights and smells are everywhere, so you'll need to pay extra attention to your Fido and look for the signs that he may need a water break.
- We couldn’t carry that much water but Janet and I both brought enough water for the dogs to make it to the part of the trail where the fountain is. In addition to having drinking water, dousing Kayo with water helped keep her cool on a hot day. We offered the dogs water several times and a few times they didn’t want it; we had to be observant to try and determine when they needed water.
Water is only one of the many things that you'll need when biking with dogs. If you're going for a long trip you should also pack food or snacks. You'll need a to provide your dog with both and you should also pack plenty of dog poop bags to clean up after your furry friend.
Of course the most important pieces of equipment that you'll need are a safe and comfortable harness and an appropriate leash. Jaymi Heimbuch wrote an excellent and very detailed blog for the mother nature network about biking with dogs and discusses the best types of equipment to use.
- The safest way to bike with your dog is to use an attachment that connects your dog to the body of your bike, such as the seat post. There are a range of options in stores that will maximize safety for you, will minimize your dog's ability to pull, and will keep your dog a safe distance away from the bike so you won't get tangled up.
7. Cycling Gypsies
You can also bike with your dog without having him run along next to you. There are many ways to carry your dog with you while biking. Trailers and bike baskets are two of the most common ways. This blog from Cycling Gypsies explains the many ways to bring your Fido along while biking, and it even shares some interesting DIY bike basket and trailer projects.
- Why let the kennel gather dust when you can put it to use? For those pet owners who already own a plastic airline kennel, Tony’s Trailers in Canada, CycleTote in the USA, and UK based Carry Freedom offer a solution. These companies offer basic trailer frames sized to fit many standard kennel sizes.