There’s no question that seeing a dog on a bicycle is an instant mood booster. I mean, try not to smile when you see a Mini Schnauzer in a basket with riding goggles. It’s impossible!
Of course, as with any doggy trend, we can’t just think about the cuteness factor. After all, your unique doggo might be more comfortable staying with a trusted Pet Sitter than accompanying you on your outdoor cycling adventures. But if you are interested in learning more about the safety, comfort and practical considerations for riding tandem with your furry friend, we’ve got all the information you need!
Let’s talk about the ideal dog on a bicycle
The moment you read “dog on a bicycle,” the picture-perfect pup might have popped into your mind. We can bet that it was a small doggo in a basket, maybe with a happy grin and an “I’m ready to go!” expression.
Let’s talk first about the size of this ideal pup. Because, you might have brought groceries or other heavy items home in your bicycle basket. But the fact is, a doggo is a very different load to carry. When they move around and redistribute their weight unexpectedly, it can be a dangerous and uncomfortable experience for the rider. For that reason, a basket-riding dog should be no more than 10kg, and even that may be too heavy for some riders. Additionally, you want to make sure that your doggo isn’t so tall or long that they obstruct your view.
Now, let’s talk about that happy grin. The ideal bicycle basket dog is a happy, relaxed fluffer who feels comfortable and confident in the basket. Dogs who are too high energy, nervous or reactive will be unsafe for this type of activity. And, we’ll talk more about how to get your pupper ready for a relaxed ride, but keep in mind that a calm demeanor is absolutely necessary for safety.
The best equipment for a dog on a bicycle
Having the right equipment is key for a successful ride with your dog. Here are a few considerations that will help you find the perfect basket:
- Material of the basket. A classic basket might be made of wicker, newer ones often have mesh, and there are even wire options that are sure to withstand the most wear and tear. The material you choose will depend on your dog’s habits—a dog who loves chewing on sticks may be too tempted by a wicker basket—and your lifestyle—a vinyl basket might be too hot for summer but perfect for a windy fall day. To be sure, you want something sturdy and reliable that is made especially for dogs.
- Covered or uncovered. If your dog is most comfortable traveling in a carrier or travel crate, they may feel secure with a wire dome over the top of the basket. This can also keep them safely inside while you ride. For other dogs, the restriction can be uncomfortable; they may be more relaxed with a riding harness, instead.
- Front baskets vs rear baskets. Baskets that are fixed to the front of the bicycle are typically more popular because they allow you to see and check in with your dog easily. That said, you might find that a rear-fitted basket gives you more control over your handling as well as an unobstructed view of the road.
A basket isn’t the only piece of riding equipment that can prepare your pup for a ride! Here are a few other items you might want to add to your list:
- Dog goggles. Your pupper will love to feel the wind in their whiskers as they go for their bicycle ride with their favourite human. But, they won’t enjoy the dry eyes and irritation that can come with it. So, get a pair of well-fitting goggles for the road.
- A riding harness. As we mentioned, dogs who don’t enjoy the wire dome of a basket should still be fixed to you or the bike with a harness and lead.
- Extra water. You may be doing all the work but that doesn’t mean that Fido won’t need some refreshments, too! Consider adding an extra water bottle holder to your bike frame for your pup.
Is your dog too big to ride? Don’t worry, there are workarounds!
Big Dog Owners, did we already lose you? Hopefully not because we’ve got a great idea for including big dogs on your fun outdoor adventures!
Meet the doggy trailer! These clever carts are designed to hook up to the back of your bike so that your dog can tag along wherever you go. What we love about them is that they’re ideal for dogs of all sizes, so your larger pups can be included in the fun.
How to prepare your pup to be well-mannered dog on a bicycle ride
No matter if your dog is in a basket or trailer, some training is in order! With an accident-prone activity like this one, stick with these steps:
- Make sure your dog has gone through basic training. Foundational obedience is going to be important any time you try a new activity with your dog. A dog in a basket or trailer, for instance, should know how to sit and stay. The better communication you have with your doggo, the safer your outings will be!
- Work on desensitisation. This will mean something different for every dog. Maybe your dog is nervous around bikes. Perhaps their kryptonite is passing cars or chasing after other dogs. Because you’ll need your dog to be relaxed and under control with all sorts of distractions, you’ll want to work on getting them used to staying calm in public before you try riding your bike with them.
- Take small steps. Even if you aren’t too worried about putting your teacup Chihuahua in a bike basket, you still want training to go at a pace that your dog is comfortable with. If they’re not wild about the basket, don’t place them inside of it, but rather work on enticing them to hop in by themselves. Moving too quickly can result in a disastrous experience for you or your dog, so take it as slow as necessary.
- Try it out in a safe area. Once you think your dog is ready, it’s time to take it to the next level by bicycling in a safe area. This could be an empty parking lot or an area of the park without much foot traffic. If you can get your doggo comfortable here, then you’ll know that you’re ready for busier areas!
- Keep your rides short and sweet. Even as your dog builds up their tolerance for sitting in a basket or trailer, it’s important not to overdo it. Not only will the physical strain be something to be mindful of, but bike trails are often exposed to the sun, which can lead to exhaustion and overheating.
Overall, is a dog on a bike a good idea?
If you’ve invested in the right equipment, trained your dog to stay safe while you ride, and checked in with your pup’s signals to make sure they’re comfortable, then yes! Inviting your dog on a bike ride is a perfectly fine activity for you and your pooch.
And, for the doggos who are still learning about bike etiquette or simply do not want to be bike dogs, don’t feel bad about leaving them behind while you enjoy a nice bicycle ride. They’ll be more than happy to stay in the care of their beloved Pet Sitter!