With the rise of bike sharing, many cities are becoming more bike friendly and constructing miles of bike lanes and off-road paths. Biking with your dog can be great exercise, an easy way to commute, and explore outside your neighborhood. Whether you’re biking with your dog running alongside or towing your dog in a trailer, consider these tips first.
1. Prepare Your Dog for Exercise
Not every dog has the energy and stamina to run alongside you while you bike. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure your dog is in proper condition for intense exercise. You should also research if there are risks specific to your dog’s breed. If you receive approval from your vet, this exercise routine is a great way to keep your dog healthy as it builds joint and muscle strength. Before you start riding, you will want to outfit your dog with a body harness and a non-tangling lead for safety. Depending on the distance and terrain, dog booties, paw wax, or other foot protectors might be necessary to save your dog’s paws from objects on the path or general wear.
2. Practice Before Riding
Make sure your pet is comfortable with the activity before jumping right in for long rides. Get your dog acclimated to biking and practice walking with your bike and your dog alongside. Have a plan to maneuver while biking including how you will slow down, make turns, and stopping. Never attach the lead to your handlebars, as any sudden movements could cause you to lose control of your bike.
If you’re riding with your pet in a trailer, practice turning with the trailer empty and full to get used to the tow before taking a more serious ride. Depending on how your dog is positioned in the trailer, their weight can be unevenly distributed making the trailer more prone to tipping over.
3. Be Aware of Surroundings and Conditions
Always let your pet set the pace. Dogs often push themselves too much and don’t understand their limits. This can certainly be the case while biking with your dog. The busiest seasons to ride are also some of the warmest, so riding during the cooler parts of the day and carrying plenty of water is important. If you’re looking to travel distances beyond two miles, it is wise to bring a trailer along in the event your pet gets tired, so they have the option of taking a break on your ride home. Stay mindful of conditions, as rain and other inclement weather can have adverse effects on even the most friendly terrain.
4. Use a Trailer Made for Dogs
For dogs that can’t keep up with you while you are biking, trailers are a great option to bring them along for the ride. There are countless options on the market, but we recommend using one specifically made for pets. Trailers like the Solvit Houndabout II have important safety features like harnesses to prevent your dogs from exiting. They also have unique openings that enclose your pets while allowing them to put their heads out for a ride.