Even though we walk our four-legged friends several times daily, some dogs need more exercise than that. Healthy dogs need to run, and walking just isn’t enough exercise for them. Running with your dog is a great aerobic exercise, but many people can’t run or simply don’t like running. So how about biking with your dog? If you love to ride your bike and your dog loves to run, why not consider biking with your dog? Fresh air, exercise and time spent together – it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
And it seems pretty simple too. Just you, your dog, a bike, a leash, and the open road. But, you need a bit preparation and you have to practice before you hit the road. You need to be willing to put in the time for training and follow some safety rules to make the activity fun and safe. But when the right precautions are taken, biking can be an extremely enjoyable activity for both you and your dog.
#1 Know your dog’s ability
If your dog has the energy to run along side of you as you bike, great! It’s the perfect way for both of you to get exercise. But even if your dog appears to be in good shape, you should have your vet check your dog before starting a new exercise routine. It’s important that your dog doesn’t have any underlying conditions that could be worsened by a new type of workout. When dogs are getting older they can’t run as far or as fast as they used to. Dogs with shorter legs just can’t run as fast as bigger dogs. Or if a dog is overweight or suffering from a disease, biking might not be the best kind of training. Test your dog out on some short bike rides and see how he or she seems to feel afterwards.
#2 Start out easy
Biking with your dog doesn’t just happen overnight. If your dog has never been around a bike before, start off by walking the bike along with the dog. This is an easy way to get your pup used to the bike. Don’t expect your dog to be able to run for long distances in the beginning. Just like us, dogs need some time to get used to a new exercise. Start out easy by riding at a walking speed for a short distance. As your dog gets used to this, you can try biking a bit faster.
Observe your dog at all times and stop immediately if he appears tired. It can take quite some time to get a dog used to being around a bike, but with patience and some positive reinforcement, it can be done! But most importantly, wait until your dog is totally under control on a normal walk before you even think about biking with him. If he’s crazy around other dogs or people, it’s not worth it to risk getting hurt or losing your dog. Use your best judgment.
#3 Take care of your dog’s paws
Be aware of asphalt and rough terrain. While dogs’ paw pads are tougher than human feet, they too can be sensitive to rough terrain. Ideally, biking on grass or dirt trails is best, but this is not always possible. If biking on pavement is necessary, make sure you give the pads time to toughen up – step by step. If possible, mix up the terrain you bike on so that your dog is not constantly running on pavement. Dog boots can be a good idea, but each dog is different, and some dogs hate the booties so much that you’ll never get them to keep them on. And last but not least, make sure to check their paws after a ride for cactus needles, stones or small cuts.
#4 Bring water and snacks
When you’re out on rides and stop for a snack, make sure to give your dog snacks and water too. Your dog has probably been working just as hard, if not harder, than you! We both also share water with the dogs. Bring a bottle of water and a collapsible water bowl with you and make sure your pup always has enough to drink.
Track your bike ride
Wouldn’t it be fun if you could see how much time you actually spend on biking with your dog? Or to share your biking routes with friends? With the free Tractive Dog Walk app you can see the exact route, the distance and the duration of each bike ride you do with your dog. Dog Walk gives you a perfect overview of your biking, walking or running routes directly on your smartphone. You can even take photos with the app and share these great moments with friends and family.
NOTE: Dog rules and laws can be different from one county to another. In some areas, biking with dogs is allowed and in other areas, it isn’t. In some countries biking with a dog is just allowed when the dog is on-leash. Before you take your pup for a bike ride, it is important that you inform yourself about the rules in your area.