There are few better ways to enjoy the great outdoors than to go for a bicycle ride. Bike riding is excellent exercise, not just for you but for your dog as well! If you are thinking about biking with your dog, keep these tips and tricks in mind for the safety of both you and your furry friend.
Before You Start Biking with Your Dog
Any time you make any significant changes to your dog’s diet or lifestyle you should always check with your veterinarian to make sure that the change won’t have a negative impact on your dog. If your dog is used to taking leisurely walks and you want to start biking with him, it is a good idea to check with your vet to see if your dog is healthy enough for a more vigorous form of exercise. Certain types of dog are just not suitable for vigorous exercise – this includes brachycephalic (short-faced) breeds and puppies who have not finished growing.
Brachycephalic breeds have a hard time breathing normally in some situations so vigorous exercise can be very dangerous for them. Puppies that aren’t finished growing shouldn’t be subjected to strenuous exercise because it could damage their developing bones and joints. Your dog should be at least 1 year old and in fairly good shape to take on biking. As long as your vet says that your dog is healthy enough for vigorous exercise you can feel good about learning to bike with him.
Training Your Dog for Biking
Before you start training your dog to run while you bike you need to make sure that he has his basic obedience skills down. At a minimum, your dog should come when you call, sit on command, and look to you for direction. As you work with your dog you can train him to heel while you bike and you can even teach him commands like Left and Right. The best way to bike with a dog is to keep him on a harness so your dog should be used to wearing one of these as well. Try walking and running with your dog on the harness so he gets used to it before you start training him for biking.
When you are ready to start training your dog for biking, your first step is to decide how you are going to hold the leash – the best option is to get an attachment for your bike so you can keep your hands free. Start off slowly with short rides until your dog gets used to running in front of or next to the bike. Don’t go too fast at first just in case your dog pulls or veers off trail – you don’t want him to jerk your bike suddenly, causing you to fall. As the two of you get used to biking together you can make your rides longer and you can try biking in different locations. Don’t be afraid to have fun with it!
Teaching your dog to run while you bike is a great form of exercise, especially for high-energy breeds. Exercising together is also a great way to bond with your dog. Just be sure that your dog is healthy enough for vigorous exercise and take your time with the training to ensure that you both have a fun but safe time together.
Photo credit: Kevin Roberts
Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.