Originally published on Momentum Mag by Finley Fagan
Bikes have come a long way since Toto went for a ride in the Wizard of Oz. Forget the image of the little dog in the basket; nowadays there are riding and running options for all, even the greatest of Great Danes.
Riding a bicycle with a dog usually means one of two things. Your dog is either riding in a bike trailer or basket or your dog is running alongside your bike. For small dogs or those with health and/or stamina issues, it’s best to use a bike trailer or basket. If strenuous exercise is not a concern riding a bike is a great form of exercise for both.
For running dogs that require leashing due to traffic or temperament, there are specialized dog leashes for biking that attach to the seat post or rear axle of your bicycle. Leashes such as the Bike Tow Leash and Walky Dog Plus leash protect your dog from pedals, wheels and traffic, while coiled springs act as shock absorbers, significantly reducing the force of an unexpected tug. When biking with your dog running alongside you, bike slowly until you develop an understanding of your pet, and vice versa. You’ll want to be ready for sudden “pit stops” when nature calls. You may want to consider doing a health check with a veterinarian first to ensure your dog can cope with such strenuous exercise.
For riding dogs, specialized dog trailers exist with weight capacities of up to 175 pounds (79 kilograms). They are basically a doggy-fied spin on child trailers with engineering geared toward increased stability for dogs that allows them to stand up and move around safely. The Schwinn Rascal Pet Trailer is a great option for biking with dogs on longer trips or for pups who need a little rest along the way. For dogs over 50lbs the Schwinn Rascal PLUS Bike Trailer can support pets up to 100lbs. When biking with your dog in a trailer, start out by taking smaller trips to allow your pooch to adjust to the new ride. While every dog is different, a good benchmark to consider is how they’ll behave in the trailer will most likely be similar to how they behave in a car. If they’re usually calm in cars or new vehicles, they’ll likely adjust more quickly to the trailer. If your dog is particularly active or nervous in cars, they’ll be even more active or nervous in the trailer, so be prepared for movement as you get used to biking with a dog in tow.
For small to medium-sized dogs, there are number of baskets, crates, and dog seats so Fido can ride with you on the frame. Nantucket Bike Baskets makes an Expandable Pet Carrier that attaches to your rear rack, while Buddyrider is a dog-specific bike seat that give your pooch a front-row seat on the handlebars. For small dogs, any sturdy bicycle basket will do. The Schwinn Rascal Handlebar Pet Carrier is an extra large, durable basket that can easily accommodate a lap dog. Harness your dog into the trailer, crate or basket, allowing your dog some room to move without putting him or her in danger of falling, or escaping Toto-style. Start off slowly to get used to the new (and wiggling) weight on your bike, but as long as your dog is reasonably calm, biking with a small dog on your frame shouldn’t be a problem.
To ease your dog into life with a bike, start with short trips somewhere fun and add 5-10min to each ride making sure not to overextend your new travel companion. Take lots of water and a dog bowl, add a favorite blanket, reward them with treats, and make it a positive experience. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but with the right motivation, you can certainly teach any dog a new way of getting around town.