Biking With Your Dog
One thing I really enjoy is going on a nice bike ride. I like taking my dogs for walks and she loves it as well, but I always feel guilty not taking her on a bike ride. I hadn’t attempted this because I was worried about a few variables. One of them being if she saw a rabbit or another dog, she would take off and down I go! Or possible the leash getting caught up in the wheels. Also, as she ages, will she be able to keep up with me and I tire her out too much? All very valid concerns.
Is your Dog Ready?
The first thing your need to do to make sure your dog is ready to start biking with your is have her checked out by your vet. They may walk fine but biking with you is, essentially jogging for your dog. Make sure they’re not too old or too young or doesn’t have any underlying health conditions. If your pooch is overweight, this is not ideal to start here. You will need to start them out walking and work your way up to biking with you.
Dog Biking Attire
Water bottles are a must for the both of you to start.
Extra leash – you may want this if you plan on stopping for a bite to eat or visiting a friend so you don’t have to detach the leash from the bike.
A special bike dog leash. This attaches in a way so it’s not close to the wheels. Do not attach leashes to the handlebars! This can be very dangerous.
Reflective tape or reflective harness as opposed to a neck collar, which also poses to be dangerous. You can also purchase a blinking dog collar and/or blinking lights for your bike.
A dog first aid kit might come in handy also.
If your dog is used to walking and not so used to being next to a bike, then you’re going to want to ween her into it. Start off by walking your bike with her on a leash. Make sure to bring plenty of rewards when she walks nicely. Depending on your dog and they’re comfortableness of walking next to a bike, take your time. Once your dog is good, they get on and start riding slowly with her next to you.
Cues For Biking
You’re going to want to teach your dog cues to help make yours and their biking experience a pleasurable one, with as little mishaps as possible. You’re going to want your dog to stop and turn on your command so cues for them to learn are very important. Cues so they slow down, stop, turn, and keep their attention on you when distracted. All these cues are to be taught way before you get on the bike with your dog, so they have them mastered.
There will be many distractions for your dog along the path so make sure you pick a word and stick to it to redirect his attention back to you, always giving your dog a reinforcement treat. Before you know it, your dog will be eating out of the palm of your hands, literally just to please you and go on a bike ride with you. Remember, your dog loves and wants to be with you as much as possible – you are his pack leader and only wants to please you. So the more you get your dog to behave in a manner that allows you to take him with you, the happier they will be.
Getting Your Dog Used to Running Alongside
If your dog is not used to running for a long distance or even running on hot, hard pavements, you’ll want to start them out on a grassy path or dirt path. And don’t push them too much to start. Start off with a walking pace and work up to a trotting speed. Always monitor your dog for overexertion. Signs of this are panting heavily, loss of coordination, a lot of drooling, slowing down. Make sure to offer water often.
When biking with your dog, make sure not to use a regular leash. Do not hold on to a regular leash or attach a regular leash to your bike. This can be very dangerous for the both of you. You should purchase a special bike baton attachment which has a spring system for any pulling that might happen. Make sure you make this experience as pleasurable as you can for your dog so as not to traumatize them. Make sure nothing spooks them, or that the bike doesn’t fall on them.
Keeping Up With Your Bike
If your dog is young, as in still a puppy, they may not be able to keep up with you. Too difficult of exercise with a puppy can affect their bone growth. If your dog has short legs, such as Bulldogs, Boston Terriers or Pugs, they will not be able to keep up with you and an easy walk is more than enough. Also, if your dog is overweight, it would be best to start out walking to help them lose weight and work your way up to a light trot. And if your dog is older, they probably would not fair well either, due to possible arthritis or sore joints. Make sure to warm them up and cool them down. You know your dog, monitor all signs of over-stressing him.
Other Modes of Transportation
If you have a very small dog, it will be very difficult for them to run beside your bike and keep up. You will want to consider a bike basket or travel trailer for them to go with you. Remember, dogs love to spend as much time with their owners as possible, so they would still love to go with you wherever you go. Make sure to still keep them on a harness in their trailer or basket so they don’t jump out. Some have built-in ones. But whatever you choose, be sure to get them used to it before taking them on a ride.
Have you ever though of taking your dog on a boat? If they love water, or even if they don’t they would still like to go wherever you are going. If you choose to take them on a boat, make sure they have a canine life jacket. It’s just as important for them to have one as it is for you to have one. They can be purchased at most pet stores or on line or a boat shop. Not all dogs can swim, but most can, but if they get into a situation far from shore, you are going to want them to have that life jacket to help them out. Dogs can still drown.
Doggie Life Jackets
As stated earlier, not all dogs can swim and if they can, not all are great swimmers. If a storm comes up, this can fatigue your dog, especially if they are older. Also if your dog doesn’t carry a lot of fat on them, this will effect them being in the water for too long – they will get too cold. Dog life jackets will keep your dog afloat in a swimming position, plus also has a way to retrieve them if they fall overboard. Make sure your dog’s life jacket fits securely, has lifting handles, is comfortable and that it’s colorful. Upon purchasing a life jacket for your dog, be sure to have him wear it around the house and outside before taking him on the boat, especially if they’ve never worn anything on their body. Always be aware of your dog at all times when on a boat and around any kind of body of water.
Remember, on a boat there is no trees or fire hydrants, so you will have to take that into consideration. Make sure to bring along waste bags and paper towels and some kind of odor neutralizer. Another good idea is doggie waste pads, easy clean up. After following all of these steps for boating with your dog, you both are assured to have a great time on the boat and in the water.