Before I got my puppy Bosworth last year, I dreamed of him sitting in a basket on the front of my bicycle enjoying the fresh air as we rode around town. Those dreams quickly dissolved as my little 6 pound puppy soon reached 10, 12, 15 and finally ended up at 20 pounds. Being a terrier, he needs to burn off as much energy as possible, so he’d much rather enjoy a long brisk walk rather than a ride.
Jessie’s dad, David, got creative when he wanted to take his Schnoodle (Schnauzer/Poodle mix) for a bike ride. He knew Jessie would be more comfortable if she was close to him so he thought of a baby carrier. From the pricey Baby Bjorn to less expensive options, there was a lot to consider. “Against the advice of a stranger who saw us looking at the various models in Target, we went with the generic version for about $17, and it was perfect!” said David.
David did the right thing by acclimating Jessie to the harness slowly. She was nervous at first, so he wasn’t sure it would work. But David rode his bike around his yard slowly until she got comfortable. Gradually, he increased the distance and length of the rides. “Once she felt the wind in her face, she was in love and calmed right down,” said David. They even stopped at a kid’s roadside Popsicle stand on their first ride.
Jessie weighs just 12 pounds so obviously, a body harness isn’t a good solution for a larger dog, or for some human backs. But there are lots of products available to take your four-legged friend on a bike ride, no matter their size or energy level. As always, consider your dog’s safety and comfort level first.
There are basket carriers that attach to the front of a bike. Most of these have a weight limit of 10-12 pounds. Some have enclosures to make sure dogs can’t jump out but at the very least, there should be a harness that attaches the dog to the carrier. If you have a medium-sized dog, a carrier on the back of the bike will be more stable.
A trailer could be an option for larger or older dogs, and many are made with shaded covers for hot days. There are ones specifically made for dogs, or as David did, you can adapt one made for children for your four-legged kids.
If you have a more active dog, you can train them to run alongside your bike. It’s a great way for both of you to get exercise. Before starting this routine, make sure your veterinarian checks your dog over for any underlying conditions that could be worsened by strenuous exercise. If your dog is overweight, you should start off with walking, rather than jogging first. Also, puppies and young dogs should not do any extended, hard repetitive exercise until they are at least 18 months old, around the time their growth plates close. My colleague Sally Bushwaller offers lots of great tips on how to make this biking partnership work in her blog on biking with your dog.