There’s nothing quite like a leisurely cruise on a bike. And if you own a dog, you might like to take them along for the ride. It’s not as easy, however, as simply tying your dog’s leash to your handlebars and peddling off (in fact, don’t do that!) Biking with your dog requires preparation and an awareness of potential safety hazards.
So how can you get your dog ready to ride? Here are 3 tips for biking with your dog.
1. Know Your Dog Before Biking With Your Dog
Not all dogs are cut out for running alongside a bike. Older dogs, dogs with health conditions, dogs with short legs, and brachycephalic breeds might not be as capable as young, healthy dogs who have speed and stamina. Take your dog out for a cruise around the block and see how they do, and keep an eye on them the following day. If your dog can’t keep up or seems particularly wiped out, they might not be built for biking. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.
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2. Gear Up for Biking With Your Dog
If your dog takes to biking, it’s time to gear up. What will you need?
- A body harness instead of a collar
Attaching a leash to a neck collar can be extremely dangerous for a dog running alongside a bike, and you should especially avoid using tightening collars like prongs or martingales. Instead, use a padded body harness that will evenly distribute pressure around their body.
- A Springer leash attachment
Many people use their dog’s regular leash and simply tie it to their seat post (note: you should never tie the lead to your handlebars as it can throw off your balance). However, you may also want to consider purchasing a Springer attachment. The Springer is a steel device that connects your dog’s leash to your bike and has a special coil spring that absorbs tugs and lunges.
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- Dog booties
Running can be hard on your pal’s paw pads, so consider protecting them with dog booties. Dog booties not only offer your dog support as they run, they also protect your dog’s feet from cuts, scratches, and foreign objects stuck between the toes. Some dogs take to dog booties well while others are less easily convinced. Before heading out for a ride, have your dog wear the booties around the house, on short walks, etc., to build up their comfort level. And don’t skimp on the treats.
Take frequent breaks to offer your dog fresh water, especially when it’s warm out. You shouldn’t let your dog drink from rivers, lakes, ponds, or other natural sources of water as they could contain harmful parasites.
3. Build Up to Biking With Your Dog
A dog running steadily alongside you on a bike won’t happen overnight, especially if the dog isn’t used to running at all. Before biking with your dog, get them in good shape with regular walks and runs (if your vet says it’s OK). Then, you can slowly introduce your dog to the bike. Start with short trips around the neighborhood then build up to longer outings. Use treats at first to keep your dog motivated and away from distractions. Eventually, you should be able to phase out treats and look down to see your dog trotting safely by your side.
Do you bike with your dog? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.