How to Bike With Your Dog Safelyby Amber Kelsey
Dogs typically enjoy exercising more often than their owners do. Biking with your dog is a fun way for both of you to get the exercise you need, but it carries some risks. If you decide to start bicycling with your dog, your first priority should be keeping him safe. Your dog will require training and conditioning before you hit the biking trails together.
Make sure your dog knows basic obedience commands. Your dog must heel, stay, and come when you call. Always use the same commands to obtain the desired results. For example, you might use the command words "Stop!" and "Go!" when you're stopping and starting your bike. Saying "Close!" could be your command for your dog to come closer to your bike. The words themselves don't matter, as long as you use them consistently during training.
Purchase a bike jogger system. These systems have metal bars that attach to your bike at one end and your dog's harness at the other. They allow you to keep both hands on the handlebars while preventing your dog from darting in front of your bicycle.
Plan your cycling route carefully. Chart out a route that has no or very little traffic. Use bike trails if you can.
Start off slowly. Like human athletes, your dog must have time to become conditioned to running. Ride slowly during the first few weeks, and don't cycle for longer than 15 minutes. Use this conditioning time to make sure your dog follows your commands.
Consider your dog's feet. When you plan a route, look at the surfaces your dog will be running on. A dog's feet can easily become worn, blistered or sore when trotting next to a bicycle. Try to keep him off pavement and on grassy surfaces. Check his pads for injuries when you stop for rest breaks.
Avoid bicycling with your dog in high temperatures. A dog has a coat and can't sweat. He can easily and quickly suffer life-threatening heat exhaustion in warm weather. Pavement surfaces can burn his feet. Exercise with your dog only in the cooler parts of the day during the warm season, and shorten the distance.
Keep your cycling pace at about a trot. Your dog won't be able to keep up with you at your normal cycling speed. Be careful that you don't overdo it. Watch for signs of overexertion, such as heavy panting. Take a short break in a shady spot whenever your dog needs one.
Make sure your dog stays well hydrated. Always take along a bike bottle full of fresh water. Offer your dog water during breaks.
Put safety gear on your dog if you cycle during early morning or evening hours. Your dog will be easier for others to see if he's wearing a blinking color or a bright orange safety vest.
Items You Will Need
- Bike jogger system
- Bike water bottle
- Small water bowl
- Blinking color or safety vest (optional)
- If you're not sure it's safe for your dog to go cycling with you, consult your veterinarian.
- Always use positive reinforcement so that your dog enjoys your outings.
- Take a trash bag or dog pickup bag along on your outings to clean up after your dog.
- Avoid biking altogether in extremely hot, humid or cold weather.
- Don't allow a puppy to run along beside your bike. The activity might put too much stress on his joints and ligaments.
- Man riding Bike with Dog image by Renata Lauermann from Fotolia.com