Tips for how to bike with dogs safely
There is a right and wrong way to approach biking with your dog. Here are our primary tips to consider to ensure you train your pup to enjoy this activity in a safe way.
Tip #1: Make sure your dog is up for it
Some dogs will simply not be excited about the prospect of bike riding. No one knows your dog better than you. Dogs who are overweight or have health issues should also not be taken on high-intensity runs.
If your dog is beginning to show signs of ageing they may not be suited to biking as it may be strenuous on their joints, especially if they are already showing signs of arthritis. Also, be aware if your dog has a thick, heavy coat, as the heightened level of running may be uncomfortable.
If you have a dog that is obsessed with running or fast walks, then you have a great candidate for biking! Always check with your vet before starting any new exercise regimen to be on the safe side.
Tip #2: Teach your dog to walk nicely next to you first
Just as we need to crawl before we walk, dogs need to walk before they run! It is vital that your dog can walk with you calmly and without distraction before adding a bicycle into the mix.
Use positive reinforcement methods to teach your dog to focus and walk on a loose leash beside you. Safety cues are also important, so it's best to teach them to respond to commands like ‘watch me,’ ‘stop,’ and ‘slow.’ These instructions and your dog's response to them will be vital when things are at a faster pace on a ride.
Tip #3: Get your dog used to the bicycle
Before you head out for a ride with your dog, make sure they are comfortable with your bike. Remember, this will be an extremely strange contraption in your dog's eyes, and it will be even weirder when it takes off with pace with mum or dad stuck on top of it.
Some dogs will show their discomfort even being near a bicycle. If your dog seems afraid of the bike or the noises it makes, start by getting them comfortable with it while stationary. Put your dog next to the bike and let them get used to the sounds and movements before heading out on a ride together. Treats and positive reinforcement can help your dog learn that the bike means good things.
This may take a few days or weeks as you build up your dog's confidence around the bike, and some dogs may never learn to be relaxed with your bicycle. However, this is a crucial step as it will be near impossible to train your dog to go on bike rides correctly without mastering this first.
Tip #4: Start slow
We mean this both literally and figuratively. No matter how energetic your dog may seem, they will still need to build stamina to keep up with the bike. Your dog's muscles and paw pads are not used to this kind of exercise and running as biking is different to running and playing in the dog park or yard.
We recommend starting with 5-10 minute sessions during the first week of rides and increasing the time from there. It is important to keep in mind that running on hard surfaces can be dangerous, so a conditioning process is required. Eventually, you can build to longer rides over time.
Tip #5. Always keep a close eye on your dog while riding
Starting slow is about both your and your dog's safety. You need to monitor their health along the ride while also watching where you are going.
Keep in mind that dogs do not have the same stamina as we do, so it's important to avoid hot weather and long rides. Remember, you are on wheels, so the trek is much easier!
When you go for a ride with your dog, always keep in mind that this is not a bike ride for you, so avoid long distances, rough trails, or excessive heat to keep your dog safe. Keep it slow and easy by your normal riding standards the entire time and allow for plenty of breaks. Always check in with your dog and ensure they are enjoying themselves, and aren't too tired