Here is everything you need to know about how to transport dogs safely on bikes in a pet bike basket or trailer, based on what we have learned over many years. Our advice to anyone looking to take their dog on their bike rides is to think about the size and personality of your pet, and try to pick out a dog bike basket that is a good fit, physically and psychologically. In this post we guide you through the entire process, from picking out the right pet basket, to introducing your pet to it, to successfully taking your pet along on bike rides.
How to Introduce Your Dog to a Pet Bike Basket – Slowly and Gently!
The key is to be slow and gentle, so that your dog does not develop any fear responses. Once learned, those kinds of responses are almost impossible to cure.
Pro Tip: get your dog used to his new dog bike basket by leaving it available on the floor while not in use. Your dog is likely to start napping in the basket, and this will give him a great chance to become comfortable with it, so he is not nervous when you take him along for a bike ride.
- Introduce Your Dog to the New Pet Basket in Your Home
- Introduce Your Dog to Your Bike while it is stationery.
- Take Your Dog for a “Push” on the Bike
- Take Your First Short Bike Rides with Your Dog
Pro Tip: When dogs yawn, it often does not mean they are tired – it actually means their brain is working overtime. It may for example mean they are finding the training too difficult, or they are anxious or stressed. So if your dog yawns while you are training him to ride in a pet basket, give him a break of some kind, or call it quits until the next day.
Note: To avoid exhausting your dog and putting him off bike riding, spend no more than 15 minutes on each bike riding session for the first few rides. You want to get to the point where your dog is very relaxed with a 15-minute bike ride.
Below is our video of our dog Billy’s first time in a pet basket on a bike. We got him an Axiom Premium dog bike basket, which doubles as a pet carrier. It still makes me chuckle every time I watch it. He’s not the bravest dog on earth – but then, he only weighed about three pounds when this video was taken! As you can see, we took it very slowly, starting off by gently putting him in the pet bike basket, and then slowly pushing the bike, while talking to him reassuringly.
At first, Billy was very comfortable in his Axiom Dog Basket. I believe this was because he was so little, he felt really safe in the basket. You can see that in the photo below, where Billy is snugly down in the bottom of the basket, on his blanket.
Related: 5 of the Best Dog Bike Baskets
Make Sure the Pet Bike Basket is the Right Choice for Your Dog
Unfortunately, as Billy got bigger he seemed to become more fearful about riding in his pet basket. Probably because he became tall enough to see over the sides. So I sold Billy’s Axiom Dual Function Premium Pet Bike Basket to a woman with a dachshund puppy. It was time to get a more suitable pet bike basket for him.
Also, we got a second dog, with different needs! Enter Ripley, a two-pound Maltese/Shih-Tzu puppy (now grown up to a hulking eight pounds). Ripley is a little bundle of dominance and fearlessness, but she is strangely afraid of heights. I guess when your legs are only four inches long that is understandable! In this photo you can see how short Ripley’s legs are compared to Billy’s.
Obviously, you need a different pet basket depending on your own pet’s needs. Joe has compiled this handy chart that compares different baskets for different dogs.
Chart Showing Best Pet Bike Basket, Based on Size of Your Dog
|Pets up to 13 lb||Front handlebars||Safety harness; extra pockets; shoulder strap for use as pet carrier; removable sun shade; lifetime warranty. Also available in a wicker option||$41.95|
|Pets up to 20 lb||Front handlebars||Strong steel frame; does not sway; quick to put on and take off; 2-point chrome clasp and safety leash||$87.95|
|Pets up to 12 lb||Front handlebars or rear rack||Can be attached to handlebars or rack; super secure; spring loaded caging on the top; safety leash; padded carry handle so it doubles as a pet carrier; easy to put on the bike and remove||$62.89|
|Pets up to 24 lb||Rear rack||Comfort basket with padded foam; 3-point safety strap; washable cover; made by a company that specializes in making dogs happy!||$79.95|
|Pets up to 55 pounds and up to 15 inch shoulder height||Attaches to the bike frame, and trails behind||Ideal for bigger dogs, or for smaller dogs who don't like to be high up; includes sun roof for dog to stick head out; front flap can be rolled up so your dog can enjoy the view||$199.00|
Be Sure to Tether Your Dog in the Basket
Important safety note: When transporting your pet in a pet basket, always make sure they cannot hurt themselves by jumping out. Ensure that they are very firmly tethered with a safety leash of some kind. Most good pet baskets are set up for this, and some even come in with built-in short leashes. It’s best if your dog is wearing a harness, because if they do manage to jump out while leashed, you don’t want them hurting their necks while suspended from the basket! With our dogs, we make sure the leash is too short for it to be possible for them to jump at all.
Get a Deeper Basket for Dogs with Relatively Long Legs
When Ripley was two, we decided it was time to try and get both our dogs out on bike rides. Maybe if Billy saw Ripley on a bike, he’d get a bit braver? So we decided to try Billy out in a much deeper bike basket, to suit his long legs. This is the one we tried – the Retrospec retro wicker basket on my bike, below. It is wire-framed and is secured to the bike from the front forks and also from the headset, so I knew it would take all of Billy’s eleven pounds easily.
We tried Billy out in this wicker pet basket, and he seemed to like riding in it. Happy surprise! Look how calm Billy is in his Axiom wicker pet basket:
So we tried Ripley out in this wicker basket – but she was not impressed, jumping out within the first ten seconds. She is a different kind of dog – where Billy is nervous, she is fearless and inquisitive. For example, she is always looking out of windows. So the tall sides of the wicker basket did not work for her. She wanted to be able to see where she is going!
In these photos, you can see that Ripley’s personality is that she LOVES to be able to look out of windows. She spends a lot of time perched on the back of couches to do this!
Try to Choose a Bike Basket that is a Good Fit for your Dog’s Personality!
So we purchased another Axiom Dual Function Premium Pet Bike Basket – this time, for Ripley. And this time we installed it on the rear rack of Joe’s bike. Ripley did really well on her first ride. Here she is, looking adorable in her very own pet basket. Of course, she just loved that she could see clearly in all directions!
This gave me a big AHA moment. Here’s what I learned about how to transport your dog in a basket on a bike!
Be Sure to Match the Basket to the Dog
I figured out that Billy had become afraid of cycling because he was growing taller. He basically got too tall to feel secure in the shallow Axiom pet carrier. Looking back on this photo taken a few years ago, I can plainly see how Billy had become too tall for his basket (Billy is the black blob in front of me). And that’s our daughter on the left!
My new Retrospec retro wicker basket is much deeper, and that makes him feel more secure when we are biking. For an eleven-pound dog, Billy has really long legs!
An Ideal Basket for Dogs with Short Legs
Ripley, on the other hand, is a tiny dog, and she found the wicker basket very big – so she was afraid. Plus, she had to stand up to see the scenery. But the Axiom Dual Function Premium Pet Bike Basket has a short leash and a spring loaded top caging that adds extra security. Ripley is very secure in it, as she is hardly able to move at all. This seems to make her feel confident and secure. And of course we know she is safe, because this pet basket mounts with a quick and easy but very solid spring-loaded attachment on the bottom (and it also has a safety strap). More to the point for Ripley, she can see clearly all around when she is in this basket!
My advice to anyone looking to take their dog on their bike rides is to think about the size and personality of your pet, and try to pick out a basket that is a good fit, physically and psychologically.
Should You Carry Your Dog on the Front or the Back of Your Bike?
You will also need to decide if you want your dog at the front or the back of your bike. On the front, the basket will usually attach to your handlebars. On the back, it will usually be mounted on your rack. It is nice to have your dog on the front, so you can keep on eye on him, and reassure him. But the drawback to having your dog at the front of your bike is that it makes the cycling experience quite different by putting a weight on the handlebars.
For this reason, front-mounted bike seats are best suited to very small dogs. They will not work at all well for a dog over 20 pounds. For dogs over 25 pounds you are going to have to consider a bike trailer – see our highly rated no. 5 choice.
A Solution for Bigger Dogs: Transporting Your Dog in a Pet Basket at the Back of Your Bike
Having your dog at the front of your bike makes the cycling experience quite different, because it puts a weight on the handlebars. For this reason, it would not work well for a dog over 20 pounds. Below is the only pet basket we could find that goes on your rear bike rack, and which is rated to carry a dog up to 24 pounds. It gets good reviews, and is obviously quite comfy with its foam padding.
Another Solution for Big Dogs: Bike Trailers
Of course, if you have a really big dog, you are going to have to get some kind of trailer. I saw the one below, with a dog waiting patiently in it. Looks like the owner made it him/herself. If you don’t have those kinds of engineering skills, there are a lot of options that you can buy.
The DoggyRide Novel Dog Bike Trailer gets great reviews for being high quality, and offering a smooth and comfortable ride for your doggy passenger, even over rough terrain. One reviewer notes that his dogs are “18 and 42 pounds. They have ample room to either sit or lie down comfortably.” Another reviewer notes that “you get what you pay for and with this you get quality.“
Once you find the right basket, it will be a joy to include your dog on your travels. Happy bike rides with your dog!
Bike often and bike safe! – Maggie
See Our Post on 5 of the Best Dog Bike Baskets, for a detailed comparison of our top picks for bike baskets for your pet. You can see the options at a glance, and also price-compare.
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