Biking with dogs can be great exercise and great fun, provided you are careful and well prepared. Knowing how to cycle safely with a dog and the best dog bike trailers on the market is a recipe for a fun day out.
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Biking with dogs
Your dog can accompany you either by running alongside you, or transported in a trailer or sidecar attached to the bike.
If you have a puppy, he can also join you on a bike ride in a dog bike basket, seat or carrier. But before you cycle off into the sunset with your beloved pooch, you need to consider certain issues regarding your dog’s health and safety. And we’re here to guide you through how to prepare your dog for a bike ride. Looking at the equipment you will need and precautions you should take to ensure a smooth and pleasant journey for you and your dog!
Transporting your dog by bike
Labradors are high energy dogs, so having your pet run alongside you on your bike is an ideal way to contain some of his exuberance and keep him fit.
However, for some dogs this is not always possible for various reasons. Puppies and young dogs should not carry out such strenuous exercise until they are at least 18 months old as it can harm their musculoskeletal development. With senior dogs, they may find it difficult to run and possibly suffer from arthritis or other joint problem.
Let’s look at some of the various options for transporting your dog by bike, so he doesn’t have to stay behind and miss out on all the fun!
Dog bike trailer
A dog bike trailer attaches to the back of a bicycle and is towed along by the rider. A trailer or wagon for dogs should be big enough for your pet to sit, stand, lie down and turn around in comfortably.
When looking for a large dog bike trailer, go for a design that has a broad wheelbase and a low center of gravity. A trailer with a removable floor makes it easier to clean, and one with large wheels gives your dog a smoother ride. A bicycle pet trailer should have a protective cover for different kinds of weather, with an opening big enough for your Labrador to get in and out of easily.
Always opt for a dog bike trailer with the best safety features that meet certain standards, e.g., the American Society for Testing and Materials. These features should include a safety harness to keep your dog inside, a safety strap for the hitch should the trailer become detached and an automatic braking system. The bicycle pet trailer should also ideally have high visibility material and reflectors.
Not all the options out there will tick every box, but here are some strong contenders you to choose from.
Schwinn Rascal Pet Trailer
This bike trailer will fit most cycles*, and is designed with comfort in mind.
Solvit Houndabout II
This bike trailer will fit even the largest Lab*, and has a lovely top opening that allows them to really enjoy the ride.
Dog bike basket
A large dog bike trailer is ideal when biking with dogs, but what about puppies? If you want to take your Labrador puppy for a bike ride, then using a dog bike basket is one such option.
To prevent your small puppy from trying to jump out, look for a basket that has a leash or harness attachment or a mesh top with a zip. A dog bike basket fits either to the front of the bicycle on the handlebars or behind the seat on a back rack. The advantage of having the basket at the front means you can keep an eye on your puppy, but the disadvantage is that it can make steering harder. However with a little practice this doesn’t seem to cause a problem for most people.
Dog bike baskets can be either wicker or fabric with some including storage space for toys, treats, water bottle, and leash.
Petsafe Happy Ride
This cute, traditional wicker basket* is practical and looks the part.
Lixada Bike Basket
For something a bit more modern, check out the Lixada Bike Basket.*
Bicycle sidecar for dogs
A bicycle sidecar for dogs connects to an adult-size bike at the side, so you are in direct contact with your dog. As your dog can see you, it gives him greater security and confidence when going on a ride as opposed to a dog bike trailer. A sidecar is often fitted with three leash rings to leash your dog in different positions.
Protection for your dog
Accidents can and do happen when riding a bike. Most bike riders wear protective gear when cycling, and you should do the same for your dog. Before biking with dogs, you should consider buying safety bike accessories for dogs to keep him protected during a ride.
When using a trailer or basket, introduce your dog to it slowly by using positive reinforcements before attaching it securely to your bike. Go for short, slow rides over smooth surfaces at first so he can get used to it. During a bike trip, always stop and let your dog out so he can stretch his legs and have some water.
Never leave your puppy in a basket or other carrier when you park your bike as it could easily fall over and injure your pet. Some dogs don’t like being restricted and may not take to being transported by bike. It all depends on the individual dog. Now let’s look at riding a bike with your dog running alongside you.
Preparing to ride a bike with your dog
Riding a bike with your dog running next to you is a great way for you both to exercise. However, it is essential that your Labrador has a health check with a veterinarian first to ensure he can cope with such strenuous exercise. If your dog is overweight, then biking with dogs would be too much for him at this stage. Help him lose weight with regular walks and a proper diet.
Before you go biking with your dog, make sure he is obedient, responding to your commands and can heel. Riding a bike with a dog that is undisciplined can be extremely dangerous and could cause a serious accident. Often you will see owners cycling with the leash in their hand and the dog running alongside them. This practice is very unsafe as the leash could become caught in the wheels of the bike, or the dog could pull the bike over risking a serious accident.
Dog Bike Leash
Before you start, you will need to buy the correct gear and bike accessories for dogs to stay safe during a cycle ride. A non-tangling leash* is essential.
When biking with dogs the leash should be attached to a harness* rather than a collar.
When looking for a bike attachment for dogs, there are a variety of designs available on the market such as a dog bike leash. A dog bike leash must not be too long or too short and usually connects to either the frame of the bike or the seat post with a cord attaching to the dog’s harness. It is possible to attach more than one dog bike leash if you wish to go cycling with two dogs.
However, for better control, a bike tow leash* is considered the safest and best option for riding with your dog.
The rigid dog leash attaches to the rear wheel of the bike, giving you greater stability, and is designed to allow the dog to stay next to you in clear view. A bike tow leash keeps your dog in heel position and has a mechanism that communicates with your dog for changes of direction.
Bike accessories for dogs
When buying any bike attachment for dogs, always read the instructions carefully, so you install it correctly to ensure your Labrador’s safety. As well as a suitable leash and harness, you will need to consider other essential bike accessories for dogs. Your Labrador should wear a reflective vest* or lights so he can be seen easily.
To protect your pet’s feet from sharp objects and hot concrete, you can provide him with dog booties*.
Once your Labrador has seen your bike, walk with him on one side, holding the leash, and you on the other. When your dog is comfortable doing this, attach him to the bike leash and stay in the walk. You can start practicing the commands you will need to say during a ride for slowing down, turning and stopping.
Slow and steady
Continue by mounting the bike and going for a short leisurely ride. You should do this for a couple of weeks, building up gradually to trotting speed. Try to use smooth, soft roads and avoid riding in heavy traffic.
When biking with your dog, observe him regularly to see if he is getting tired or panting heavily. Take regular breaks so he can rest and have a drink and a treat. Always detach your dog from the bike when you are not riding. Towing a dog bike trailer when biking with dogs is a good idea in case he becomes tired, particularly on longer journeys. That way, he can relax and enjoy the rest of the ride in comfort.
It’s Time To Go Biking With Dogs!
Providing you prepare your dog correctly and have the necessary gear and equipment, you should be able to safely enjoy biking with your dog whichever way you choose to do it.
Be aware though, that it is not for all dogs. If your pet doesn’t appear to enjoy it, then don’t force him. After all, his happiness is most important. However, many dogs love the chance to go for a bike ride with their owners and make excellent exercise partners!
What about you?
Do you go cycling with your dog? Does he run alongside you or transported? Share your stories about biking with dogs.
Affiliate link disclosure: Links in this article marked with an * are affiliate links, and we may receive a small commission if you purchase these products. However, we selected them for inclusion independently, and all of the views expressed in this article are our own.
- Combination pet collar and water bowl
H Jackson – US Patent 6,516,748, 2003
- Pet Companionship in FT Achana – researchgate.net
- High frequency components of bone strain in dogs measured during various activities
CH Turner, T Yoshikawa, MR Forwood, TC Sun… – Journal of …, 1995 – Elsevier
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Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
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