Bike lovers are often dog lovers. And why not? Both are a human’s best friend, lovers of the outdoors and game for adventuring. And when you pair bikes and dogs, well, magic happens. Magic in the form of extreme adorableness (see above for proof), but also in the form of the supremely enjoyable experience that can be had biking with your dog, exploring the world and exercising together. Added bonus? No more whimpering beside the doggie door at home while you go on solo rides.
We explore three different ways of biking with your dog: toting them in a bike basket, pulling them along in a dog trailer and having them jog alongside you. We encourage you to consider your canine’s personality, size and fitness level when picking one of the many ride-along or jogging options to find the one that suits your needs and your pet’s best. And please let us know in the comments your personal tips and tricks for riding with your pet.
For smaller dogs, front or rear baskets are a smart choice. Their tiny legs are no match for the big strides of your bicycle. But with a basket, they can enjoy the breeze and the sights alongside you.
Attach the basket to your rear rack, front rack or your handlebars. The smaller the dog, the better off you’ll be with a front basket, where you can keep an eye on your friend. Whatever you do, make sure that your dog’s leash hooks to your handlebars or bike. Many baskets are made with clip-on leashes, which is the best option. That way, your dog will be less likely to try to jump out and chase a cat.
Your options include:
- Wicker (like this or this): An environmentally friendly and classic look, the wicker basket will give your dog ample breeze on toasty days.
- Wire (like this or this): These workhorse baskets will hold a heavier dog, and they’re easier to clean if your dog brings a mess on the ride.
- Fabric: Comfortable and often handy with extra pouches and pockets, the fabric basket is commonly waterproof. But they might sway more on the ride or buckle underneath a dog’s weight, making this a better option for tiny pets.
- Be careful to choose a trailer that will actually fit your dog’s shape: The weight ratings of dog trailers don’t always take into account all the shapes and sizes of a dog that weighs that amount. So, try it on for size first. Your dog should have enough room to move around and sit down.
- Check that you can easily hitch and unhitch your trailer. Make sure the connection is secure so that your trailer doesn’t fly off mid-ride.
- Practice biking around with your trailer while it’s empty, so you get accustomed to the longer load. On your first ride, you’ll want to reassure your dog by looking like you know what you’re doing.
- Acclimate your dog to the trailer by having him sit in it at home well before you actually ride. Make sure your dog enjoys sitting in a trailer before you commit to biking with a scared pup.
- This option can spell the most fun and exercise for your companion. If your dog is physically fit and big enough for his legs to keep up with your wheels, consider working your way up to this mutually beneficial hobby.
- It might seem liberating to simply use a normal leash and hook it to a handlebar, but this could spell disaster. If your dog sees a squirrel, it might dart in an unpredictable direction, pulling you and your bike down with it.
- Instead, shop for the proper supplies before you head out. Buy a non-tangling lead—there are even leashes made for this specific purpose, like WalkyDog and Springer, that keep your dog at a safe distance from your wheels. Also pick up a body harness and an extra leash for when you park your bike and explore by foot. For nighttime rides, invest in a reflective vest and blinking lights. Nice-to-haves include a backpack for your dog to carry its own water supply and treats, rain gear, and booties for rides on hot days.
- Practice commands such as “slow,” “left,” “right” and “stop” before you even hop on your bike. Then, start out with short rides, making sure to keep your pet on the non-traffic side of your bike. Soon, you’ll be biking around town with your dog like a pro. For those dogs that are especially well trained, you could choose to bike alongside them without a leash at all.
If you love bikes and dogs, there’s no reason to separate the two. Experiment until you find the solution that’s right for your pet. Then, you’ll have a shared hobby that wears you both out for a good night’s rest.