Riding Bike with Man's Best Friend
How to train your dog to accompany you on rides
It's simple, fun and keeps you fit - riding bike is something we can all do. So why not with your faithful companion? We will explain to you which dogs are suitable for cycling, how fast and far you can travel with your four-legged friend and how you can get your pet used to cycling.
In this study (German), 40% of all participants bike daily in Germany. So why not take the dog out along with the bike? This way, your trip can be a wonderful experience for you and your furry friend. But before we begin, there are a few things to consider:
- Can I cycle on the street with my dog?
- How old should my dog be before his first trip?
- How big should my dog be?
- Which dogs are suitable for cycling with?
- How long and far can I ride a bike with my dog?
- How fast can I ride a bike with my dog?
- What kind of weather can I ride a bike with my dog?
- How do I accustom my dog to my cycling?
- What equipment do I need?
Can I cycle with my dog in road traffic?
No, cycling in traffic with dogs is not prohibited as long as you guide your dog safely in traffic and observe the laws of your city and state. Generally, however, it is advisable not to be on the road too much. Rather, ride on softer ground in order to protect your dog's joints.
By the way: According to the German Constitution § 28 in the section Road Traffic Regulations, dogs may run along bicycles on the street.
"Pets and livestock which may endanger traffic must be kept off the road. They are only allowed on the road if they are accompanied by suitable persons who can exert sufficient influence on them. It is forbidden to walk animals while you are operating a motorised vehicle. Only on bicycles is it allowed to walk a dog beside you."
When can I start cycling with my dog?
You should not ride bike with your dog until he has completed his growth phase and his bones have hardened. This is about 1.5 years old. You should not ride a bicycle with younger dogs as their joints are very prone to injury.
You should also be careful with old pups. Ask your veterinarian if your older dog is still fit enough to walk beside the bike.
What size should my dog be to accompany me on bike rides?
There is no perfect dog size for cycling. Nevertheless, you should be careful: Very large dogs often have problems with their joints, which can be aggravated by fast running. You should therefore avoid riding on hard surfaces in particular and prefer to ride on softer surfaces, for example on dirt roads with green strips.
With small dogs you should pay attention that you don't ride too fast. Short legs mean they have to work harder to keep up. Therefore it is better to ride shorter distances with small dogs.
Which dogs are suitable as cycling companion?
Not every dog is suitable as a bicycle companion. Do you want to ride longer distances? Then you need an enduring breed such as huskies, border collies or hunting dogs. Greyhounds, on the other hand, have been bred for short distances at high speed, so their physique is not suitable for longer distances at constant speed. A few short sprints, however, are appreciated by grayhounds.
Larger breeds with short legs such as St Bernards or pugs are not suitable for running with you. In general, breeds that tend to have difficulties breathing are not suitable.
In addition to the anatomy of the individual breeds, the character of each individual dog also plays a role. Your dog should not be frightened or anxious when you are riding a bike. If your dog pulls on the leash at high speeds, because he is scared, both you and your dog can hurt themselves.
How long and how far can my dog accompany me on a ride?
If you're getting your dog used to cycling, it's best to start by riding shorter distances. Watch your dog closely. Always keep an eye on the weather. On warmer days, it's better to ride only a very short distance.
How fast should I ride a bicycle?
How fast you can ride your bike alongside your dog depends on your dog's fitness. Increase slowly and consider your dog's age, breed and individual condition.
By the way: A grayhound belongs can to the fastest animals. At so-called pug races some representatives of the short-legged race have already reached speeds of 30 km/h. On longer distances, however, both grayhounds and pugs cannot maintain these speeds.
In what weather can I ride a bicycle with my dog?
Once the weather reaches 70 °F, you should avoid excessive sport with your dog. Dogs can only regulate their body heat by panting, meaning they overheat quickly. If your dog is panting a lot, you should definitely take a break.
If you ride with your dog, it is also important that you always have enough water with you for your four-legged friend so he can cool down.
How do I get my dog used to me cycling?
So that your dog does not jump up on the bike or pull too hard on the leash, you should gradually get him used to the bike. It is best for your dog to walk well on a leash before the first bike ride, so that you can transfer this behaviour to the situation with the bike.
This is how you get your dog used to your bike:
- Go for a walk with your dog and bicycle.
In the first step you should go for a walk with your bicycle and your dog. Make sure that your dog runs on the right side from the beginning. To the left of you, push your bike.
Also run curves so that your dog gets used to the wheel moving towards or away from him. From the beginning, teach him the commands "Left" and "Right" so that your dog knows that the direction is changing and that he can react.
If your dog runs ahead, cut off the way to the front with the handlebars. This way he learns to stay at the same height with the bike.
- Use your bike as a scooter.
In the next step you can increase the tempo. Use your bike like a scooter. So you have the possibility to jump off if your dog suddenly pulls strongly on the leash.
- Ride a bike in an open area.
If you have practiced the previous steps sufficiently, it is time to really ride a bike. Try it first in a large open space such as a parking lot or a yard. There you will also have the opportunity to turn and slow down your dog if he rushes ahead. In addition, you do not have to pay attention to the traffic and can concentrate completely on your dog.
- Bike with your dog in traffic.
If your dog walks well beside the bike, you can dare to enter the traffic. The best thing to do is to ride along a few roads that are not very busy and increase slowly.
What equipment do I need to ride bike with my dog?
To be safe on the road, you need specific equipment for your dog and bike. We have summarised the most important things for you.
In areas where leashes are mandatory, you will need a leash with you at all times. It is best to keep the leash loose so that you can release it in an emergency. Do not tie it to the handlebars or wrap it around your hand, as you may fall if your dog pulls the leash.
Whether you should guide your dog with a leash or harness, the jury is still out. When cycling, however, the harness has some advantages. On the one hand a harness protects the cervical spine, muscles and larynx and on the other hand you can hold your dog better by their necks. This offers more safety in road traffic.
With a bicycle rack, also known as a sprinter, your dog will always have sufficient space from your bicycle. Most models can deal with fast and jerky movements from the dogs.
The dogcare blog "K9 of mine" has tested many different bike racks.
You want to ride a bike with your little dog? Then a dog basket would be perfect for you. If your four-legged friend is out of breath, he can catch his breath in the dog basket.
Instead of a dog basket you can also use a bicycle trailer. A bicycle trailer is also suitable for larger and older dogs who can no longer walk the entire route.
Cycling for dog and owner
To ensure cycling with your dog goes smoothly, you should always keep the needs of your dog at the forefront. Start by walking with your bike to get your dog used to bicycles. Also teach him necessary commands such as left and right and keep the leash loose to keep him safe on the road.
Whether with or without a dog - the right bicycle is crucial for your safety on the road. In our article Bike Fitting: Finding the Right Frame Size and the Most Efficient Seating Position you will learn everything about the right size and how your posture affects your cycling. Not sure which model to choose yet? Then we also recommend that you take a look at our article Which is the Right Bike for Me?.
We wish you a safe and fun bike tour with your scruffy friend.
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