Does your dog zoom around the house after a 5-mile hike? Bike runs are a fun way to bond with your dog and provide daily exercise in a short amount of time.
Without the right training and equipment, however, you or your dog could get seriously injured. Use these tips to safely bike with your dog this summer:
Adopt the Right Biking Buddy
Keeping up with a bicycle, even during a moderately paced ride, is a strenuous feat for a dog. Not all dogs make good bike buddies.
Dogs under 25 pounds have a tiny stride, and can’t comfortably keep up with you as you ride. Brachycephalic, or flat-faced breeds or mixes, are not well-suited for biking. Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs and other flat-faced breeds are prone to heat stress because they are unable to pant as efficiently as other dogs.
Puppies aren’t good biking mates, either. While they’re still growing, puppies have soft growth plates at the ends of the long bones in their legs, which are easily fractured during strenuous exercise, making them prone to permanent bone malformation. The growth plates close at maturity, but until then, you should keep your puppy from putting too much stress on their growing bones.
The ideal biking mate is a healthy, medium-to-large dog between 2 and 6 years old. Energetic breeds, especially the Siberian Husky and Labrador Retriever, are great for biking. A Bully Breed Mix (BBM) or “Pitbull” from your shelter can also be a great biking buddy.
Get Equipped Before Biking with Your Dog
No matter how careful you are, you or your dog will stop suddenly or fall out of pace, so you need equipment that will absorb shock and prevent injury to both of you.
Never attach the leash or bike attachment to your dog’s collar. Your dog should always wear a harness, preferably with padding and reflective strips like the Ruffwear Front Range harness.
While it is possible to bike with your dog on a leash, it’s safer to use a bike attachment that keeps a safe distance between your dog and the tires. Bike attachments, like the Walky Dog, are designed to absorb shock and prevent you from tipping if your dog suddenly lunges.
If you’ll be biking longer distances than your dog can handle, or your dog is too small to run alongside you, get a bicycle trailer so your dog can enjoy the ride.
Summertime Biking Safety Tips
While you’re biking, you’ll have your eyes on the road, and it’ll be hard to watch out for signs of canine heatstroke as you ride. Stop every 15 minutes to check your dog’s status and offer a cool drink of water.
Avoid biking in the middle of the day, especially if you’ll be riding over pavement. Protect your dog’s paws with Musher’s Secret or booties.
Dirt roads are ideal because they don’t heat up as much, and aren’t as rough on a dog’s paws as pavement.
Not all dogs take to bike runs right away. Start by walking your bike alongside your dog, on a regular leash, just down your driveway, encouraging your dog with lots of praise and treats. If they don’t seem to mind the sound and presence of the bike, proceed gradually.
Even if your dog loves going on runs, a bike run is much more demanding. Many dogs will push themselves past the point of exhaustion, so it’s up to you to take plenty of breaks and stop before they show signs of overexertion.
For Dogs That Just Want to Walk, Hire a Pro
If you’re having second thoughts about taking your dog on your biking expeditions this summer, a professional dog walker can safely help them get the exercise and potty break they’ll need while you’ll gone.
Ready Pet Go offers insured and bonded pet sitting and dog walking services in Silver Spring and Takoma Park, MD and Washington, DC. Contact us to get started.