Cycling is an amazing pastime, especially when the weather is warm and dry. It can also be a fun activity to share with your dog and great exercise for you both! Before you rush off to mount your two-wheeled steed with your dog in tow we’ve rounded up five important things to keep you and your dog safe and happy while cycling.
1. Check your dog’s ability and fitness levels
Make sure your dog is fit and healthy. Vets will generally advise only cycling with dogs who are over 12 months old. Ability will also vary with size. Athletic dogs like collies, greyhounds, whippets, Weimaraners, and others will be better suited to keeping up with a bicycle than smaller breeds like chihuahuas and dachshunds. Consider if your dog is prone to respiratory problems; French bulldogs, pugs, boxers and bulldogs can struggle with breathing and are more prone to heatstroke.
If you’re unsure, check with your vet! If your dog is too small, too old, too young—don’t worry, you can still enjoy travelling by bike together.
2. Practice with your dog
Even if your dog is fit, they might not be quite ready to go for a ride with you. Bikes can seem strange or scary to dogs. The fast spinning wheels are also potentially hazardous to their curious noses and wagging tails. Make sure your dog is comfortable around the bike, that they are familiar with any noises it makes, and that they understand not to investigate moving parts while you’re riding. Why not take your dog for a walk with your bike to help get them accustomed to it.
3. Get the right gear
There are some great products available to keep you and your dog safe as they jog alongside your bike. You’ll both be safer if you ride with two hands on your handlebars, rather than holding the lead. Here are some handy products to help:
- Harness: your dog might pull on their lead, so a harness is useful for taking the pressure of their necks and spreading it evenly around their torso.
- A brace mount: attach it to your seat post, rather than your handlebars, as any tugs or pulls from your dog could cause you to swerve.
If you’re planning to be out at dusk or dawn or any time when the light is poor, ensure that you have lights on your bike, and consider a high visibility dog jacket, a dog light or LED collar for your dog so that you can both be seen.
If your small dog or puppy is unable to run with you but you still want to take her along, why not consider something to carry her in:
4. Plan a route that avoids busy roads
Busy roads are full of distractions, noises and dangers and should be avoided! Plan a route that follows quiet roads, or find a park to cycle in. And if you’ve got a hybrid or mountain bike, why not find some woodland paths or go off-roading?
Your dog might not be up to a Tour-de-France-esque ride, but even if she is are plan shorter rides and slowly increase the distance.
5. Pack extra water
You’ll probably get thirsty even after a short ride and so will your dog! Be sure to take some water along, enough for you both. If the weather is particularly hot, you might want to avoid heading out for a bike session at all. If you do head out for a ride on hot days, avoid the hottest time of day, and take it slow. Learn more about keeping your dog cool in hot weather here.