Taking your dog bicycling can be fun for both you and your pooch, but make sure to follow safety precautions.
We spoke with some experienced doggy pedalers to get their tips on gear, training, and safety.
Chester the long coat chihuahua loves bike rides. He has participated in the Emerald City Ride twice, done many Free Group Rides, and in 2016 even crossed the finish line of the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic thanks to his humans.
“I met my husband (Nikolas) 30 miles from the finish of STP and switched bikes with him, and he rode the final 30 miles with Chester,” says Windsor Lewis-Gloy, a Cascade Ride Leader. “It was a big emotional boost for everyone.”
Dog ownership is on the rise, and Lewis-Gloy is among the growing number of people who enjoy bicycling with their canine companions. We asked Lewis-Gloy for tips on bicycling with dogs after Rides Committee Chairperson Jeff Powers received a question about whether it’s OK to bring dogs on Free Group Rides.
The answer is yes–if the dog is carried safely and in a way that doesn’t endanger or interfere with other riders. Dogs are not allowed to run alongside their owner’s bike. However, if the dog is carried and secured in a bike trailer, on a cargo bike, or in a pet backpack, riding with a dog is similar to pedaling with a child onboard.
Pedaling with Pooches, Pups, and Poodles
Dogs should always be carried in a trailer, protective basket, or container specifically designed for pets, Lewis-Gloy says. She prefers commercial rather than DIY dog carriers because they’re likely to have properly tested attachments.
Chester's brother, Oscar, chills in his doggie crib during the Emerald City Ride.
Lewis-Gloy uses a Klickfix carrier that locks to her handlebars. She tried using a trailer but “Chester hated it.” She also tried putting him in a basket on the back of her bike. “He was constantly trying to peek around me.”
Most importantly: “Make sure that tails and paws are never in a position to get caught in a wheel,” Lewis-Gloy says. She offered these additional tips:
The carrier should be comfortable and cushioned.
Dogs must be “seatbelted,” preferably with a body harness, not a neck collar.
When riding in a group, stay near the back.
Practice riding with your dog before bringing it on a group ride.
Bring water, a leash, poop bags, and sun protection if it’s hot.
Lewis-Gloy says she always gets positive reactions when she rides with Chester or his brother Oscar, especially on women’s rides. “Chester loves women. He’s such a flirt.”
Pedaling with Patti
Education Director Stephen Rowley frequently rides with his dog, Patti, on his cargo bikes.
“I've ridden with Patti on my front-loader cargo bike, in a trailer, and on the rear of my Xtracycle longtail cargo bike. I prefer the front-loader. It’s easier to load her in and out, and when she shifts, the center of gravity is low so I barely notice it.”
Rowley says Patti disliked riding in a trailer. He used positive reinforcement training when getting her acclimated to bicycling. His recommendations for endearing your dog to riding on pedal-powered wheels? “Treats, short trips to the dog park, short trips to the lake, and bringing a ball on board!”
Patti is well-behaved, and she rides in a DIY carrier that Rowley created. “It’s just a Costco tub with an attachment I made so that I can install the lid at a 45-degree angle if it's raining.”
There are lots of resources online for bicycling with dogs, including from the American Kennel Club. Small and well-behaved dogs that won’t throw you off-balance can be carried in a pet backpack. Amazon sells a variety of styles. Your local pet store likely has resources and recommendations, too.
BuddyRider makes a small-dog carrier that attaches to your seat post, above and below, with a raised platform for resting paws. That's Evie the mixed breed rescue dog below with goggles on her BuddyRider with her co-pilot.
Most of all, riding with your dog is fun for both humans and dogs alike, says Lewis-Gloy, who flew Chester and Oscar to Germany when she and Nikolas lived there. “It’s enriching for them because otherwise they would be bored at home waiting for you to return from your ride.”
Being stuck at home isn't a concern for Chester and Oscar, who have traveled internationally multiple times. That's them in Hamburg, Germany, below. Lucky dogs.
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