How to bike with your dog safely

Do you love biking? We certainly do, but one of the best ways to bike and perform other activities is to have our best friends with us. In this article, you will learn how to bike with your dog in a way that is safe for you, your dog, and other road users.

a man bikes with two dogs
These two dogs clearly enjoy the ride. A helmet, and leash attachment to hold both hands on the steer, though, would be nice. Photo by Robert Couse-Baker, cc

Back in the old days, merely attaching a dog to the bike with a leash and collar was fun.  We did try it as kids. Except for some bruises and scratches, the activity was considered safe enough. But it wasn’t!

There are several things to consider. Prominently training and equipment. You want to prevent your dog from pulling you, hence the training, but appropriate equipment makes the ride smoother. You also do not want to distract your attention from biking, mainly if you bike with road traffic.

  1. Get the dog leash attachment for your bike. This attachment provides two major benefits. First, your hands are free to maneuver the bike, which improves safety. Second, the attachment absorbs shock if your dog suddenly pulls the leash. You are less likely to fall over if your dog starts chasing a squirrel.
  2. A harness is another must-have piece of equipment if you are biking with your dog. The harness supports your dog’s whole body and is much safer than a collar. It spreads out the load and reduces the strain on your dog’s neck. Additionally, your dog is less likely to slip out of a harness and run away. You can buy a dog harness online or at most pet stores.
  3. Make sure your dog is visible. Mainly if you are biking in the dark, we recommend wearing a reflective vest on your dog. While your bike and clothes may have some reflective elements, drivers don’t usually expect a dog is running beside the bike. If your dog wears a reflective vest, he will be spotted instantly. During the day, the bright color of the vest also makes him more visible. A driver who notices the dog will be more careful when passing you.
  4. Train your dog to heel while you are walking. Your dog should also have a good understanding of commands such as “stop” and “wait.”
  5. Start slowly and go short when first biking with your dog. Even if all goes well, make your first exercise short. First, your dog needs to build some endurance. Second, your dog’s attention span may be short. Third, before you both learn all the ins and outs of the activity, you better be near home just in case. Just go around a block or two the first time.
  6. Extend the length of the activity gradually. No marathoner gets ready in one day. Just as you start slowly, gradually increase sthe length of the activity and the distance traveled by bike. Each day, add a small amount of time; after just a few weeks, you might be able to ride safely with your dog and know that he is enjoying the ride.
  7. Don’t forget about your dog’s basic needs. Physical activity stimulates bowel movements and passing of urine (which is very beneficial for your dog’s health!).

    Dog peeing on a bicycle wheel.
    When you bike with your dog, don’t forget he has to pee, too. Photo by The Sean and Lauren.

Remember, safety is the number one concern. Not only is traffic safety, but your dog’s health during exercise is essential as well. heIt is true that any activity provides an enormous benefit to your pet’s health. However, you will enjoy these benefits only if you know how to bike with your dog safely.