Biking With Your Dog

Biking With Your Dog

Going for a bike ride with your dog might seem like a great way for some combined canine/human exercise. But just because you’re up for a workout, doesn’t mean your dog will be! Before you head out on the bike with Fido in tow, make sure you follow these tips to ensure the experience will be safe for both of you.

First, take your dog to your veterinarian make sure your dog is OK to come along for your exercise routine. It’s incredibly important that your dog be physically capable of keeping up with you and the bike. Once you receive medical approval, you’ll want to ensure your dog has a proper harness and attachment for running alongside a bike. These attachments act like a shock absorber to help prevent injury to both you and your dog.

Once you’ve done those things, you’re ready to begin training. Start by walking the bike with your dog attached to it, until your dog is comfortable walking close to your bicycle.

Teaching your dog some basic commands is essential for safety. For example:

  • Ready
  • Hike (let’s go!)
  • Gee (right)
  • Haw (left)
  • Whoa (slow down)
  • Stop

The next step is to ride the bicycle for short distances in a quiet, low-traffic area. Start slowly, and monitor your dog’s well-being. When you are confident your dog is ready and comfortable, you can start taking longer rides.

Remember: your dog may not necessarily stop running when tired. Many dogs, especially working dogs, continue to run past the point of exhaustion. All dogs are meant to roam and do not usually sprint for long periods. Maintain a pace slow enough that your dog is only cantering, rather than galloping alongside the bike.

Provide lots of breaks for water and rest and watch your dog for signs of exhaustion or heat exhaustion:

  • Panting heavily, with the tongue fully extended
  • Stumbling, dragging feet
  • Glazed eyes
  • Disorientation
  • Staring or anxious expression
  • Weakness

Be very careful when biking in warm weather. On a hot day, it doesn’t take long to cause heat exhaustion, stroke or even death. Lots of sunshine means pavement can quickly become hot and damage your dog’s feet. To avoid these risks, exercise your dog earlier in the morning or late in the evening. If it’s too hot, leave your dog at home.

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