Biking with their dogs is not an activity that dog owners “need” to do or “have to” learn. I don’t teach a class on biking with your dogs for instance. This is something that I do with my dogs for the enjoyment of us both (and one of walking clients, Minny Man). For some reason my dog, Leon, especially loves doing this with me even if I am just circling around my house.
So before you even think of biking with your dogs, consider these tips and safety measures:
- Concrete, pavement, and cars can kill you or your dog. (not while biking) I missed a step one day to the mudroom and fell onto our concrete floor. My whole chin was one large lump and bruise, I felt quite fortunate to have hit there instead of my head (where a concussion may have rendered me unconscious and then dead). I was also very grateful to have not shattered my jaw. Now consider this power in a scenario where you may be propelled forward. (see number 3)
- Dirt roads and trails contain rocks, which can kill you if you strike the right body part on them. (see number 3)
- Wear a helmet on your bike with or without a dog. (See number 1)
- You have no business even thinking about biking with your dog, unless you know how to train solidly for basic obedience. Or are training with someone who will teach this solidly. The reason for this being a dog left to his own does not know the danger caused by running UNDER the bikes wheels or lunging at a squirrel.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare before mounting your bike with your dog in tow. I usually start with heeling my dog next to a shopping cart at Petco for instance to get them used to it in a fun environment. I heel them next to me walking my bike. I do lots of these things before I mount the bike with my dog, including making sure that they know basic obedience very very well. You will also want an emergency sit, auto sits when you stop the bike.
- Always consider the safety of the general public around you. This article link is one example of what could happen.
- Flexi leads are very likely to get wrapped up in gears (and there should be no need as your dog should be heeling next to you IMO ). This is why I do this on my strong, sturdy leather lead. Note this is not to keep my dog with me when he pulls, as I do not allow my dogs to pull when in a heel. It’s to keep the loose leash from being frail and thin enough to wrap around the gears.
- (related to number five) Just in general with biking, I tend to not wear sneakers with any laces that could become untied and wind up in the gears. Some lighter baggier kinds of clothes can get caught in them as well.
- Do NOT attach leash to bike. Better to hold the leash (and see why 4 is very important) in an accordian style, in case your dog stops to pee (seee number 10) so you can quickly drop the leash, stop, and call your dog to you when he/she is done.
- Remember dogs may have to stop and pee, and may not be able to tell you how…other than by stopping suddenly. (see number 9)
- Keep in mind that your dog should only go at their comfortable pace.
- (related to 11) If you want to multi task and exercise, put the bike on the highest tension level possible, rather than overtaxing your dog with speed.
- This is a group/partnership event, you must always be aware and look out for your dog and others.
I am sure that I missed a lot more, but these are things to think about before even considering biking with your dog:) One can always bike without a leash with their well trained dog. I prefer a leash on my dog whenever I am around vehicles that are moving quickly. When I am riding around my house, my dogs don’t have leashes on, and are free to decide to follow or not follow. Many times I don’t have them in a heel if it’s just on my own property. Still, you will want to start out so that your dogs are aware that they shouldn’t run into wheels, jump on you, et. I probably could have added a few more for this scenario.
Mannerly Mutts Dog Training
Mannerly Mutts Blog