Here is everything we have learned about how to transport dogs safely on bikes in a pet bike basket or trailer. 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 dog bike basket that is a good fit, physically and psychologically. The slideshow just below is from our related post, 5 of the best dog bike baskets.
Best Pet Bike Baskets Compared in a Chart
Slideshow tips: hover your mouse over a slide to pause that slide; click on a slide to find out the latest Amazon price on the dog bike basket in that slide.
How to Introduce Your Dog to a Pet Bike Basket
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.
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 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 sadly, just before we downsized out of our house, 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.
Then, after we downsized, we noticed that Billy was getting mopey. He was used to being in a large family home with lots of comings and goings. So, we got a second dog to keep Billy company. 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||$0.00|
|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.
Ripley is now two, and we decided it was time to try and get both our dogs on bikes. Maybe if Billy saw Ripley on a bike, he’d get a bit braver? So we decided to try Billy out in this Retrospec retro wicker basket on my bike. 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 seems 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.
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.
This gave me a big AHA moment.
Here’s what I learned about how to transport your dog in a basket on a bike!
I figured out that Billy had become afraid a few years ago 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).
My new wicker pet basket is much deeper and that makes him feel more secure when riding. 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. 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).
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.
Transporting Your Dog in a Pet Basket at the Back of Your Bike
The one big 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, 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.
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.
Transporting your Dog in a Backpack
I don’t recommend this method because it would be dangerous if your dog was not trained. However, if YOU choose to train your dog to do this, and can succeed, good on you! I got this great picture from Cycling the Spains, who offer awesome guided and self-guided cycling tours in Spain. (It’s on my bucket list, but we won’t be taking the dogs to Spain …)
Once you find the right basket, it will be a joy to include your dog on your travels!
Bike often and bike safe! – Maggie
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