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 are going to learn how to bike with your dog in a way that is safe for you, for your dog, and for other participants on the road.

Man biking with two husky dogs.
Biking brings so much joy to dogs. Photo by ** RCB **.

Back in the old days, simply attaching a dog to the bike with a leash and collar was fun and, except for some bruises and scratches, considered safe enough. But it wasn’t!

You want to avoid having your dog pull you; training is still necessary, but appropriate equipment makes the ride smoother. You also do not want to distract your attention from biking, particularly 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, and second, the attachment absorbs shock if your dog suddenly pulls the leash. The first benefit simply offers better riding safety, much like a hands-free device for those behind the wheel talking on a cell phone, whereas the second benefit ensures that you won’t 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. Your dog is less likely to slip out of a harness and, unlike with a collar, will not choke if he pulls you along. You can buy a dog harness online or at most pet stores.
  3. Make sure your dog is visible. Particularly if you are biking in the dark, we do not recommend that you leave home without a reflective vest on your dog. While your bike and clothes may have some reflective elements, drivers don’t usually expect a dog 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 as, again, drivers usually don’t expect to see dogs alongside bikes.
  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, don’t make your first exercise too long. First, your dog needs to build some endurance, and his paws must get used to running for long distances. Second, if your dog is not used to running alongside the bike, his attention span will be short, and it’s better to keep the activity short. Just go around a block or two the first time.
  6. Extend the length of the activity gradually. No marathoner is trained in one day. Just as you start slowly, gradually increase the length of the activity and the distance traveled with the 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 actually very beneficial for your dog’s health!).

    Dog peeing on a bicycle wheel.
    When biking 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 a concern, but your dog’s health during exercise is important as well. And, while any exercise provides an enormous benefit to your health and your pet’s health too, biking with your dog can provide these benefits only if you know how to do so safely.