Cycling with your furry friend by your side can be a fun and healthy activity for both of you, but is it cruel? Some people think so, claiming that it’s inhumane to make a dog run for miles alongside a bicycle, while others argue that as long as the dog enjoys it and that you take the necessary precautions, there’s no harm in taking them on a ride with you. So, what’s the verdict?
Well, there isn’t really a definitive answer, as it ultimately depends on the individual dog and how you cycle with them. If you’re constantly pushing your dog to keep up with you and never give your canine a break, then yes, that’s cruel. However, if you take things at a leisurely pace or a pace that they’re comfortable with and give them plenty of breaks, then there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a lovely bike ride together.
What Should You Do When Biking With Your Dog?
If you decide that you want to bike with your dog, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure that both of you have a positive experience.
1. Make Sure Your Dog Enjoys It
This may seem obvious, but it’s crucial to ensure your dog actually enjoys the experience and isn’t just putting up with it because they have to. Your canine should be happy and enthusiastic about going for a ride with you, not anxious, stressed, reluctant, or looking like they’d rather be anywhere else. If your pup doesn’t seem to be enjoying it, then it’s probably best to leave them at home.
2. Make Sure Your Canine is Fit Enough for This Strenuous Activity
Not all dogs are cut out for running alongside a bike. Some dogs are better runners than others, while some simply aren’t built for running, for instance, short-faced breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs. These pups are at a higher risk of respiratory problems and heatstroke.
Puppies are also not ideal candidates for biking as their bones and joints are still developing. Elderly dogs may not have the same stamina as they used to, so you’ll need to consider that too. And, of course, dogs that have any underlying health conditions or injuries that could be exacerbated by running aren’t suitable for biking either.
Unless you’re giving the type of dogs mentioned above free rides in a dog bike carrier, you’ll need to make sure your canine is physically capable of running alongside your bicycle before taking them out for a spin.
3. Go at a Pace Your Fido is Comfortable With
We, humans, love to push ourselves to our limits. But when it comes to biking with dogs, it’s crucial to go at a pace that they’re comfortable with. Otherwise, you run the risk of them overworking themselves and becoming injured. So, if your dog struggles to keep up, slow down and adjust your speed accordingly. It’s not a race, after all.
4. Get the Right Gear for Your Dog
Just like you wouldn’t go for a bike ride without the proper gear, your dog will also need some special equipment to ensure they’re safe and comfortable.
A high-quality harness that fits them well and won’t rub their skin raw is an absolute must. You’ll also need to get a leash specifically designed for biking. These leashes can help keep your dog at a safe distance from the sprockets and spokes, and they typically have a shock-absorbent feature to absorb the impact of sudden stops or pulls. Getting your canine a good pair of running shoes is also a good idea, as this will help protect their paws from the asphalt or hot pavement.
These are just a few things your furry friend needs. We’ve got a more comprehensive list of gear for biking with dogs, and there’s also a checklist you can download to ensure you have everything you need before heading out. So, be sure to check that out.
5. Take Frequent Breaks
No matter how fit your dog is, they’ll need breaks when biking. And the fact is, they’ll probably want to take a break long before you do. So, be sure to pay attention to their body language and give them a chance to rest and cool down when needed. And if they seem exhausted and can’t go any further, then it’s probably best to just call it quits for the day.
6. Be Wary of the Heat
Dogs don’t sweat as we do, so they’re not as efficient at cooling themselves down. That’s why it’s crucial to be extra careful when biking in warm weather, as your fido could easily overheat and suffer from heatstroke. Avoid biking during the hottest hours of the day, and bring plenty of water for your dog. If it’s an extremely hot day, just leave them at home.
7. Invest in a Dog Bike Carrier
If you’re dead set on cycling with your dog but don’t think they can handle running the entire time, then you might want to consider getting a dog bike carrier. In fact, that’s what I do with my dog, Bailey. Hands down, it’s the best way to bike with dogs.
While Bailey is more than capable of running alongside my bicycle, there are times when I want to go for a long bike ride, and when he doesn’t have the stamina to keep up, I’ll just load him into his bike trailer. This way, he can just relax while I cycle. And I can tell you that he loves it! He always has this big smile on his face when we cruise down the bike path.
There are many different types of carriers on the market that you can get for your pooch, for instance, dog trailers, dog baskets, and carrier backpacks for dogs. And your choice largely depends on your dog’s size, as well as your personal preferences. But whichever carrier you get, ensure it’s properly ventilated and is the right size for your biking companion.
So, is cycling with a dog cruel? Well, it is if you’re doing it the wrong way. But if you take the necessary precautions and follow the tips above, then biking with your four-legged companion can be a fun and enjoyable experience for both of you. And not only is it a great way to bond with your furry pal, but it also gives them the exercise they need.
Just don’t overdo it, and be sure to use your best judgment, take frequent breaks, and be mindful of the weather conditions. Other than that, enjoy the ride!