How to cycle with a dog
With a range of products available for taking dogs cycling, and with over 13 million four legged friends in this country we will explore the kit you could use to make every day journeys with your pooch. We will explore various options as cycling with dogs is becoming increasingly easier, with many more products now available which enable them to be transported safely. Our four-legged friends don’t always have to be left behind or confined to the car.
Baskets offer a neat, semi-permanent option for transporting smaller dogs of around 12kg and under.
Once fitted, there’s no need to take a basket off your bike, reducing the time it takes to start a journey.
Baskets also conveniently double up as general storage.
Different models attach in different ways.
Some fit to the rear on an existing pannier rack, some to the front on handlebars, whilst others are sold with custom platforms which attach to the main frame of your bike.
In all cases your dog gets a full fresh air experience, not missing any sights, smells or sounds.
It can take time to adjust to cycling with your dog in a bike basket, as the added weight will affect the bike’s handling.
The more space your dog has to move around, or to sit to one side of the basket, the more you’ll feel an uneven and unpredictable weight distribution, which will affect your balance.
Pros of a basket
- Always ready to use with no set-up
- Lightweight and compact
- A combination of front mounted and rear mounted baskets may suit a pair of dogs who need to be separated during travel
- Front mounted baskets enable you to always keep an eye on your dog.
Cons of a basket
- Only suitable for smaller dogs
- Can affect balance
- May not suit more senior dogs who need to stretch out and move for comfort.
Trailers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes making them a popular choice for transporting dogs for utility, leisure, and touring.
Their weight limits vary by model, but you can expect upper limits to be between 20kg and 50kg.
Most models will hook on and off bikes with relative ease, making it easy to restore your bike to its original state within a few clicks.
Cycling with any trailer can take a while to adjust to, you’ll need to be aware of your increased overall length, width, drag, turning circle and weight. They come in a wide range of prices and spec, so consider the following.
- Sun, wind and rain protection
- Durable or light weight frame (For example, aluminum will be lighter to tow, but steel is stronger and better suits heavier loads).
It’s also important to think about your dog’s own unique personality.
Do they like to curl up in small spaces or stretch out in larger ones?
Do they love to hide under covers or feel the wind in their fur?
Take time to think about how they’ll experience a dog trailer and put yourself in their paws.
Pros of a dog trailer
- Suitable for most sizes of dog, but especially larger, heavier, or more than one
- Can be easily attached and detached from a bike
- Spacious interior (depending on dog size) can suit longer journeys and dogs who need to stretch out
- May offer added storage
- Some double up as strollers, perfect for young pups, senior dogs or those in ill-health.
Cons of a dog trailer
- Large to store when not in use, though some models fold down
- Requires own maintenance
- Requires own lock to leave unattended
- Dogs who generally like to be ‘in front’ of their owners may feel anxious being behind.
Dog cargo bikes
Cargo bikes are the ultimate multi-utility cycle and are viewed by many as a lifestyle choice and an investment.
Not only are they suitable for transporting dogs, but also children, shopping, luggage, work equipment and much more.
It’s not unusual for their boxes to have upper limits of 100kg, that’s a sizable dog and their friends.
Research is essential for such an investment, as you’ll encounter various options when it comes to design, electric powering and internal fittings.
Test riding before you buy is highly recommended to ensure it will suit your needs.
Some models are designed specifically for transporting dogs and come with features such as harness and lead clips and rain cover.
A unique feature of some models is a drop-down entry ramp complete with non-slip mat, perfect for dogs who are unable to jump in and owners who are unable to lift them.
You don’t necessarily need to buy a dog specific cargo bike as many can be converted with the installation of durable loops to attach leads and harnesses to.
Like baskets, cargos offer dogs the opportunity to ride upfront and take in all the sights, smells and sounds of a ride, but be cautious to check how far they’re able to lean over the edges, as no pooch wants to lose their nose to a lamppost or passing lorry.
Pros of a cargo bike
- Suitable for many sizes of dog, especially larger, heavier or more than one
- Flexible and spacious, enables dogs to ride with children and items such as shopping
- Multi-utility, may become the first choice for many other types of trips
- With a ramp, the best choice for dogs with limited mobility who can’t be lifted
- Durable and long-lasting investment which retains value.
Cons of a cargo bike
- Large to store
- Heavy duty and expensive lock required to secure such a high value cycle
- Can be heavy to pedal without electric assistance
- Cannot replace some of the benefits of owning a conventional bike, such as light weight and easy to transport by other means.
Consider testing, hiring or borrowing kit so that your dog can get a feel for the options you’re considering.
The great thing about our four-legged friends is that they are brutally honest.
Most will let us know quickly what they do and don’t enjoy.
And as an owner, you’ll have a good understanding of your dog’s adaptability.
Together, you’ll work it out.
However, you decide to get active, we wish you glorious, greener journeys together.
This article was originally from a Sustrans blog . Visit sustrans on www.sustrans.org for lots of other tips and articles.