6 Tips for Biking Safely with Your Dog

You already know that May is the month for flowers but did you know it’s also the month for pedals? The kind you push with your feet. 


May is officially Bike Month and if you want to bring your dog biking with you, there’s a very important question you need to ask yourself: is that how my dog rolls? Some canines are just not cut out for biking, others are better suited for a basket, while some were born for the Tour de France lifestyle.


With National Bike to Work Week now also in full swing, we asked Nora Kogelschatz, manager of training and behavior for Bideawee, one of America’s first no-kill animal rescues, for her tips on how to safely ride a bike with your pup.


Before you go, take paws, er, pause, because you definitely don’t want to overdo it. Kogelschatz suggests starting off with short distances in the beginning and gradually increasing the length and speed of your rides. Read on for more solid tips. 


1. General fitness is key. If your pup’s idea of a fun includes plenty of time on the couch, a bike ride isn’t the natural next step. “Before anything else, please make sure your dogs have good endurance and can physically handle the activity before taking them with you,” Kogelschatz explains. If your dog isn’t up to it, a bike ride could spell injury for him or you.


2. Practice basket safety. A bike basket can be the perfect fit for Fido, especially for small dogs (i.e. Toto from Oz).  “If you choose this option, make sure your dog is strapped in safely so they can’t tumble or jump out,” she says. There will be lots to see along the way — squirrels, chipmunks, oh my! — so it’s important to keep your pal secure should they decide to do something sneaky. 


3. Start slow. Hey, your dog isn’t a brain surgeon, so don’t just assume he’s going to understand the whole side-by-side biking thing. Familiarize your pup with the bike, in a safe space like your driveway, where you can both ease into the idea of riding together. “When teaching your dog to run beside you on your bike, you should first introduce your dog to a bicycle when it is not moving,”  Kogelschatz suggests. “Bikes can be scary to dogs if they are not conditioned to the way they look and move.”


4. Gradually increase your distance. Don’t dub your first outing the Tour de Doggy, with the intention of clocking some serious miles — many dogs will need time to master the art of biking. “Once your dog is comfortable with the bicycle, you should start off small in the beginning and gradually increase the distance and speed of your walks,” Kogelschatz says. “A good idea is to first walk the bike while also walking your dog.”


5. Give each other space. Finding the right leash for this activity is important. “There should be a safe distance between the bicycle and your dog while riding,” she says. “Make sure you use a 6-ft. leash and attach it to your handle or yourself. This gives your dog the freedom to run while also keeping him safe and taking away any chance of his leash getting tangled in your pedal or tires.”


6. Take breaks. The peloton is for the professionals! You need to stay hydrated and give your dog time to catch his breath. “Always make sure you have water for your pooch and give them proper resting breaks,” Kogelschatz says. “Dogs can be wonderful riding partners, but just like people, they need to rehydrate and take a few minutes to breath.”

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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for People.com, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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