Here is a step by step process to gently train your dog to go on bike rides with you. Follow these steps, and soon your dog should be enjoying going on bike rides with you!
Please note that all steps should be accompanied by treats, words of encouragement, and praise, as this is a big learning curve for your dog. Also remember to stay calm, so your dog does not pick up on any anxiety you may be feeling. If necessary, interrupt the training to play a game with your dog, so she stays in a good mood and does not start to dread the training sessions. Always remember that most dogs have very short attention spans, so training sessions should be short – no more than 15 minutes. And more like 5 minutes for puppies.
Step 1: Select a Great Pet Basket for Your Dog
Select a dog bike basket that suits both you and your dog. The slideshow below is from our related post, 5 of the best dog bike baskets. 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.
Step 2: Introduce Your Dog to the New Pet Basket in Your Home
Dogs can surprise you by being afraid of odd things. On the other hand, most of them are naturally curious. So your goal is to harness your dog’s natural curiosity so that he will discover the basket on his own terms, rather than forcing a new thing on him.
Once you have bought the pet bike basket of your choice, place the basket on the floor of your home. Even better, put one of your dog’s favorite blankets or toys in the basket. Then, just leave it there. Don’t put any pressure on your dog at all. Just let it be.
Most likely, your dog will soon be sniffing around the pet basket, jumping in, and even taking a nap in it! Let this happen for a few days, until you are confident that your dog is completely comfortable with the new basket.
Step 3: Introduce Your Dog to Your Bike
Introduce your dog to your bike while it is completely stationary and in your home. Again, give it time, and wait until you are sure that your dog is comfortable and calm around the bike. This may take a few days if your dog is not familiar with the bike. On the other hand, if you love your bike so much that you keep it in your bedroom, you dog may already be familiar with it. In that case, you can skip this step!
Step 4: Take Your Dog for a “Push” on the Bike
Don’t just put your dog in the bike basket and ride off at speed! Instead, put your dog in the basket, following all of the manufacturer’s guidelines for safety. This should include securing your dog with a short leash so that he cannot jump out while you are moving. The leash should be short enough that your dog cannot hang himself in mid-air.
Tip: If your dog is especially nervous, secure the leash to a harness, not a collar. That way, even if she does try to jump out, she will not be able to hurt herself.
Once your dog is in the pet basket, don’t ride your bike right away. Instead, walk the bike slowly, while you pet your dog and reassure her with gentle words. You can see this process in this video.
Keep doing this until your dog is relaxed and comfortable while the bike is moving. She should start to see this process as just another fun way that she can spend time with you and get attention from you. After all, those are the two things most dogs want most of all (apart from dinner!) You can try exposing her to different surfaces while you are doing this, so she learns to expect bumps and changes as the bike moves. You can also try giving her a heads-up that a bump is coming.
Step 5: Take Your First Short Bike Rides with Your Dog
You are finally ready to take your first bike ride with your dog! Be sure to start out slowly. A park is a good place to choose. It should be as quiet as possible, so that your dog can hear your reassuring voice as you pedal along.
When you start, don’t get carried away and do a marathon bike ride right away! It might not look like it, but your dog’s brain is processing a lot of information and new experiences. This is often exhausting for dogs.
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.
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.
Step 6: Build up the Speed and Distance of Your Bike Rides with Your Dog
Now you can start building up the speed and distance on your bike rides with your dog. On each ride, increase the speed and/or the length of time of your bike rides. You can also start to vary the settings (and finally get out of that park!)
You may want to ride your bike with your dog in different settings, such as urban areas and forests, or wherever it is that you intend to take him riding often, so that he can get a feel for the place.
Extra Tips for Taking Your Dog on a Bike Ride
- Remember when taking your dog out that you should take along plenty of water and treats. Some people also add a reflective vest for the dog, or a jacket to keep her warm.
- Try not to push your dog too hard. Factors such as age, weight and the breed of your dog will all affect your bike rides. For instance, Chihuahuas will handle bicycling differently than huskies.
As mentioned, your dog must be safely secured in the basket.
If you want to go the extra mile: a useful step for your dog’s safety is to go on a CPR/First Aid course specifically for pets; this is especially true if you are planning on riding in remote areas or on trails with your dog and might not always be able to get him to the vet quickly.
Before you head out on your first long bike ride with your best friend, be sure to tell friends and family where you are headed in case of an emergency.
Take the Whole Family Along!
Now that you can take your best friend out on bike rides, perhaps increase the fun by taking the whole family along. The easiest way to include everyone is to install a Totem Pole bike rack onto your car, so you can take up to six bikes along.
Sarah writes for Crazy Pet Guy. She loves spending time with her pets and hopes that more people will share her passion for pet care and awareness.
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