Cycling with your dog: A guide to fun and safety

21 July 2023 - 5 min read
Cycling with your dog

Preparing for the ride

Cycling with your dog is not just a fun activity, it's also a great way to keep both you and your furry friend healthy and active. It provides an opportunity for your dog to explore new environments, sniff out new scents, and burn off some energy. Plus, it strengthens the bond between you and your pet, making it a rewarding experience for both of you.

However, before you attach your dog to your bike and start pedalling, there are a few things you need to consider.

Not all dogs are suitable for cycling. Factors such as age, breed, health, and fitness level can affect a dog's ability to keep up with a bike. Brachycephalic breeds for example, such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Frenchies aren’t built for this kind of activity, so unless they’re in a basket or trailer, you should avoid it with them.

The age of your pet is also important, puppies should only receive around 5 minutes of exercise for every month of their life, up until they are fully grown. This is because their bones and joints are still growing, and you could affect their development. You should speak to your vet to see when you can exercise for longer.

It's important to assess your dog's ability and consult with your vet before you start cycling with your dog. Remember, it should be a fun and enjoyable experience, not a strenuous or stressful one.

Training your dog for cycling is another crucial step. Before you start cycling with them it's important to ensure they’re is well-trained and can respond to basic commands.

This is crucial for you and your dog's safety and the safety of others. Your dog should be lead trained and able to walk nicely on a leash, respond to commands like "stop", "stay", "slow", and "leave it", and should be comfortable around traffic and other distractions.

Essential gear for the journey

When it comes to gear, consider how far you want to cycle and where. The kind of gear you choose depends on your dog’s ability and what you’re both comfortable with.

If you’d like to cycle with them alongside you, you could choose a bicycle dog leash. This special type of leash attaches to your bike and allows your dog to run with you. It keeps them at a safe distance from the bike, preventing them from running in front of the wheels.

A comfortable dog harness is also important as it distributes pressure more evenly across their body, reducing the risk of injury. Plus, it gives you more control over your pet, especially if they are large or strong.

Other essential dog accessories include lights for both your dog and bike, a GPS dog tracker, snacks, water, and a collapsible bowl.

If you're planning a longer trip and the terrain is suitable, consider bringing a bike basket for your dog, or a dog carrying trailer. This will give your pet a chance to rest if they get tired. Remember, the goal is to make the experience enjoyable for your dog, not to exhaust them.

You can also choose these instead of a bicycle dog leash, meaning they can sit back and relax, while you take the strain.

A dog basket is more suited for smaller breeds, that can fit snuggly in the basket and a trailer can be more suitable for larger breeds, attaching to the back of your bike.

Starting the adventure

If you choose to let your dog run alongside you, there a few steps to consider.

Once you're ready to start cycling, introduce your dog to the bike slowly. Let them sniff it and get used to its presence. Then, walk the bike along with your dog. This will help them get used to it and understand that it's not something to be afraid of.

Start slow and gradually increase the speed and distance. This will give your pet time to adjust to the activity and build up their stamina. Always keep an eye on your dog while cycling. Look for signs of fatigue or discomfort, and adjust your speed or take breaks as needed.

Caring for your dog’s paws

Caring for your dog's paws is another important consideration when cycling. Be mindful of the terrain you're cycling on. Asphalt and rough terrain can be hard on their paws. Try to stick to grass or dirt trails when possible, and avoid hot asphalt, which can burn their paws.

Cycling in warm weather

Cycling in warm weather requires additional precautions, and you should consider whether it's too hot to take your pet out.

An early morning or early evening cycle ride may be better to avoid the heat of the day. Dogs can quickly get burnt paws if the ground is too hot and can overheat which could result in heatstroke, so avoiding the hottest part of the day is best.

Ensure you know the signs of heatstroke in your pet so that you’re prepared and can take action. If the day is very warm, it may be better to postpone your ride.

Choose a path that's dog-friendly, provide plenty of fresh water, go slow and take plenty of breaks to prevent them from overheating. You may also want to apply pet-safe sunscreen. Ensure its specifically for pets, as human sunscreen contains ingredients that can be toxic for pets when licked.

Respecting others and nature

Finally, always respect others and nature when cycling with your dog. Clean up after your pet, keep them close or on a lead, be mindful of others, and understand local dog rules and regulations.

Considering pet insurance

At ManyPets, we understand the love and concern you have for your pet. We know that they're not just a pet, but a cherished companion, family furry friend, heartwarming housemate, and pawed partner.

That's why we offer dog insurance to help you take care of them, whether you need cover for illness, accidents or public liability while you’re out and about. Giving you peace of mind and letting you focus on enjoying life's adventures.