Guide to Biking With Your Dog
Biking with your dog can be one of life’s great joys — but for many of us, the idea of taking your dog on a bike ride is daunting. Where do you even begin? What equipment do you need? Will your dog even enjoy it? Great questions. We’ve got answers.
How to get started:
Get the green light. First off, get your pooch checked over by your vet to make sure that he’s up for this new jogging regime. Exercise might not be safe for your pup, depending on his weight, size, medical history, or even age! We know your puppy has a lot of energy, but dogs shouldn’t be doing any serious distance running until they’re at least 18 months old.
Dog, Meet Bike. Bike, Dog. Start by acquainting your dog with your bike by taking some walks around the neighborhood or a nearby park (dirt trails are ideal for this), with you on one side of the bike and your dog on the other. Attach your dog’s leash to the bike, rather than to your hand, and then be patient. It could take some time for your girl to get used to this.
Introduce Biking-Specific Commands. While you’re taking these walking tours next to your bike, start using the language commands you’ll use during your bike rides together. Think of words for slowing down, for turning left and right, for stopping altogether. Make sure these are words specific to you two — you don’t want your dog to hear someone else using the command (like a mom telling her kid to “STOP” doing something at the park) and obey.
Slow and Steady. After your dog is comfortable with the bike and knows the commands you chose, it’s time to start biking. Slowly. Start by biking at your slowest possible speed, as close to your walking speed as possible. One you’ve mastered that, you can work up to a 10-minute trot. The idea is to build speed and stamina over time, and you always want to be biking at a pace that’s comfortable for your dog — let her set the pace.
What you need:
- A non-tangling lead (e.g., DoggerJogger, WalkyDog Plus, etc.)
- Harness with reflective tape (never attach the lead to your dog’s regular collar, as you don’t want to pull on your buddy’s neck — padded harnesses are the way to go)
- Reflectors for your bike
- Reflectors for your dog
- Poop bags
- Water bottles for you both
- Small first aid kit
- A doggie backpack, if your pup likes to work and is fit enough to carry some of his own gear (water, first aid kit, etc.)
- Treats (we like PowerBark, which is essentially a super portable meal)
- Dog booties to protect your buddy’s feet
If your dog has a lot of energy or wants to work, this could be super fun for him — as long as you avoid the hottest parts of the day and take care of his needs. Always monitor your buddy’s paws to make sure they aren’t getting raw, and carry extra water for him every time you hit the road. If your dog starts to struggle, take a break — and always have a back-up plan for how you can get home again if walking is no longer an option. (Sidewalk Dog pack dog Ellie Mae has been known to mutiny halfway through a walk.)
If your dog doesn’t love it, don’t push him. Just because it’s a fun idea for you doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to want to do it. And if it isn’t fun for him, it will quickly stop being fun for you. Find a different activity you can both enjoy.