You are an avid cyclist and love nothing more than spending your weekends exploring new trails. You’ve wanted to take your dog on all your bike rides.
The only problem is that you can’t seem to get your canine to cooperate and understand that they need to stay by your side while biking.
Your dog will always run ahead, lag behind, or run too close or far away from the bike, making it difficult and dangerous to cycle.
Don’t worry. We are here to help!
The first section of this guide is geared toward those whose dogs are ready to learn to run alongside a bike. This means the dog is in good health, has the stamina to run, and can follow commands such as sit, stay, heel, come, etc. Otherwise, please check out our other guide to help get your dog ready for biking.
- Breeds That Have the Stamina to Run (These breeds are the better candidates for this activity)
- Teach Your Dog to Run With You (You’ll learn everything you need to know about running with your dog, including teaching your canine directional and speed cues)
- Turn Your Couch Potato Dog into a Runner (This is to help build up your dog’s running endurance and get them in shape for biking)
If your dog isn’t suitable for running, say, you have a brachycephalic dog breed (dogs with a short nose), or if your dog is a senior or has health conditions that limit their mobility, don’t despair!
You can still take them on bike rides using a dog bike trailer, basket, or a dog backpack carrier. These will allow your fido to come along with you on your cycling adventures without having to run. They can just sit back and relax while you do all the pedaling. We will also go over the step-by-step guide on how to:
- Train Your Canine to Ride in a Bike Trailer
- Train Your Pooch to Ride in a Bike Basket
- Train Your Pup to Ride in a Backpack
later in this guide. But for now, let’s get started on teaching your furry friend to run next to your bicycle!
Train Your Dog to Run Alongside Your Bike
Step 1 - The Foundation: Get Your Dog Used to Be Around Your Bike
The first step is getting your dog accustomed to the bike. This is important because you don’t want your dog to be scared of the bike or associate it with something negative.
Have your bike set up in an open space like your backyard. Start by just standing next to your bike with your dog on a leash to let them sniff and explore it. You can give your canine treats while doing this to create a positive association, basically showing them the bike equals good things.
Step 2 - Get Your Canine Used to Walking Next to the Bike
Now that your dog is comfortable being around the bike, it’s time to start walking them next to it on a loose leash. You would want to keep the leash short enough so your pooch can’t get ahead or lag behind. And be sure to give your dog treats and praise them when they walk calmly next to it.
What you are essentially doing in this step is getting them used to seeing the moving wheels and hearing the noise the bike makes, ultimately showing them a moving bicycle is not a threat and won’t cause them any harm.
Step 3 - Teach Your Dog to Turn with the Bike
The next step is to teach your dog how to turn with the bike so that they don’t veer off in the opposite direction when you make a turn.
All you need to do is simply make turns while you walk your dog next to the bike and give them a treat when they keep up with it. Make sure to practice turning in both directions (left and right) multiple times because your dog needs to learn to slow down when you turn into them and speed up when you turn away from them.
Step 4 - Start Riding the Bike!
Once your dog understands the basics and is comfortable walking and turning with the bike, it’s time to start riding!
Make sure to start slow, keep the rides short at first, and practice riding with your dog in a controlled environment before taking them out on the open road. And as always, don’t forget to praise them when they are doing a good job!
Also, one thing to note, ensure to use a leash explicitly made for biking. These special leashes will help keep your canine at a safe distance from the bike and can also absorb sudden jolts or pulls to ensure you and your dog’s safety. Plus, you’ll also be able to ride hands-free!
Train Your Dog to Ride in a Bike Trailer
Step 1 - Introduce Your Dog to the Trailer
Before putting your dog in a bike trailer, you’ll need to let them become familiar with it. Start by setting the trailer up and letting your dog check it out. You may want to give your furry friend treats to help them associate the trailer with positive things.
And what you want to do next is to open all the trailer’s doors and encourage your dog to enter. If your canine refuses to go in, don’t force them into the trailer. But instead, try using their favorite toy or treat to lure them in. Otherwise, you can also try placing their bed and blanket or something they really love to help make the trailer a safe and more familiar place for them. This way, they will be more likely to enter it willingly.
Step 2 - Accustom Your Dog to a Moving Trailer
Once your fido is comfortable entering the trailer, it’s time to start accustoming them to a moving bike trailer. First, get your dog inside the trailer, clip the internal safety leash to their harness, and secure all doors and flaps. Then, begin just by pushing the trailer around the yard or house.
If your furry friend seems scared or nervous, try talking to them in a calm voice. You may even want to stop to pet them now and then to help reassure them. If they are still not comfortable, you would want to go back to Step 1 and try again later. Remember, never force your dog because you don’t want to make it a negative experience for them.
Step 3 - Hook Up the Trailer
Once your dog seems comfortable with a moving trailer, hook it up to your bike. But don’t ride off just yet! Instead, you’ll want to start by walking the bike with the trailer attached to get your dog used to the motion and the noise the bicycle will make while moving.
Keep in mind that some dogs may get scared when they see the bicycle for the first time. So, you may want to introduce the bike to them separately before adding it to the equation.
Step 4 - Go for a Ride!
Now that your dog has finally acclimated to the bike trailer, it’s time to take them for a ride! Start off by biking around your neighborhood and avoid busy streets and areas with a lot of traffic.
Always start with shorter rides at lower speeds and gradually work up to longer rides. You would also want to practice riding on different terrain, making turns, stopping, going up and down hills, and anything else you may encounter on your rides.
Remember to always go at your dog’s pace and take things slowly. Also, don’t forget to praise your dog along the way to reinforce good behavior! And as you ride, keep an eye on your dog to ensure they’re doing okay. If your dog seems scared or stressed at any point during the ride, stop and take a break.
Train Your Dog to Ride in a Bike Basket
Step 1 - Introduce Your Dog to the Basket
Start by placing the dog bicycle basket on the ground and letting your pup sniff and investigate it. Once your furry companion is comfortable being around the basket, try placing them in it for short periods while you stay close by and reward them with treats and praise them when they remain calm in the basket.
Step 2 - Secure the Basket and Go for a Walk
Next, you’ll want to secure the basket to your bike and take a short walk around the block with your dog inside. This will help your furbaby get used to riding in the basket. Make sure to use the in-built leash to keep your pooch secure in the basket to avoid accidents. And be sure to give them plenty of treats and praise to help them associate the basket with positive things and reassure them that riding in the basket is not scary and there’s nothing to worry about.
Step 3 - Take Your Dog for a Ride
Once your dog is comfortable being in the basket, you can take them for a ride around the neighborhood. As always, give your dog lots of praise and rewards for remaining calm throughout the ride.
Also, like how you would train your dog riding in a trailer, start with short rides and gradually increase the distance and speed as your dog gets more comfortable. You would also want to practice riding on different terrains, and it’s a good idea to find obstacles like bumps to ride over to help them get used to how it will feel riding in the basket when you go over one. Soon enough, your four-legged friend will love biking with you!
Train Your Dog to Ride in a Dog Carrier Backpack
Step 1 - Get Your Dog Used to the Backpack
Start by placing the dog backpack carrier on the ground with the compartment open to let your dog sniff and explore the pack. Then, toss treats inside the carrier to entice them to step in. You would want to repeat this process a few times until your dog is comfortable getting inside the carrier.
Step 2 - Secure Your Dog in the Backpack
Next, you’ll want to secure your dog in the backpack. Some carriers have an opening to let dogs stick their head out. For those types of carriers, you’ll want to hold a treat at that opening to encourage your fido to put their head through. Then, you can clip the internal safety tether to your dog’s harness and zip up the pack.
Step 3 - Take Your Dog on a Test Run & Go for a Bike Ride When They're Ready!
Now that your dog is all strapped in, it’s time to take them for a test run. Start off slow by walking around the block, and remember to praise your pup and give them treats along the way! Once your canine seems comfortable being carried in the backpack, you can then take them on a bike ride!