Bike riding with your dog in your neighborhood is so addictive that you will never go back to walking again!
Depending on how old your child is, it may be possible for them to hold walk the dog with using their bike, however, be sure to master this yourself first and be sure you have them follow all of the safety guidelines in this post. In addition, I would accompany them to supervise this form of exercising your dog. I would consider a child as young as 12 years old, but this really depends on the child and the dog.
Bike riding is a great way to give a more satisfying walk to your dog since you are going at a quicker pace…not the boring .02 mph that many people walk. I also like the bike ride because I can go farther faster and in this busy world who doesn’t love that! Healthwise, your dogs are going to be moving at a faster pace and that keeps your athletic animals trim.
If your wondering how your dog gets any freedom here is the answer. We always start and finish the walk with the bike but, go to a park during the ride to give them off leash freedom to play ball, meet other dogs or just sniff around. We love this so much we have trained every dog, even visitor’s dogs!
Before you start:
Before you attempt this, make sure you have trained your dog to walk politely with no pulling next to your side on leash. Then you can easily move on to a bike.
Be sure you are comfortable on a bike going at a slow pace and maneuvering on sidewalks and through neighborhood streets. It is going to be important for you to be confident and in control. This not a workout for you, but it will be for your dog.
Some dogs are more sensitive to new and different things and may need a slower introduction. Other dogs will pick this up immediately. If your dog is the sensitive type, you may want to do a short walk with your dog, holding your bike and moving the tires, shifting gears, using the brakes, moving the peddles. I would recommend this after a regular walk so they are more relaxed.
As I mentioned earlier, your dog should be trained to walk politely on leash next you and take guidance from you willingly before you ever start to ride a bike with your dog. You can use a training collar Pinch or also called a prong collar in metal or plastic are my favorite because when you give a light “pop” on the leash the pressure is broken down equally around the neck. If you have been trained how to use it your dog will not be pulling on the collar and only feel it when you give some feedback. Your leash should be short, but loose when your dog is next to you.
Collars are always controversial. Here is my personal opinion and why. Flat collars or slip chains can be too hard on the neck and trachea. You may be able to use a Martingale collar if your dog is already very well trained to walk without pulling. Same goes for a Gentle Leader of Haltie – if your dog is already comfortable with a nose style haltie, you can try it, but no harsh pulls. Harnesses give the dog too much control especially if you have a high energy, large breed dog. My preference to stay safe and still make it fun for the dog is to use a training collar. If you don’t know how to use a collar like this, hire a trainer. Training collars will be resting on the neck and the leash will be slack the majority of the time. When you need to give a little leash guidance you will do so lightly.
I also use regular 4 – 6ft. leash about ¾” thick. Hold the leash by weaving it back and forth to sit on top of the bike handle under my hand. As mentioned earlier, always keep the leash short, but loose with some slack.
Do not let your dog pull you by his neck as you ride.
(There is a sport called “joring” where dogs are in special harnesses and are meant to pull you. If you have a safe place to do this, go for it. )
Do not ride your bike with puppies. Check with your veterinarian about when your puppy’s growth plates will allow bike riding safely.
During the ride:
Be very aware of your surrounding! If you are uncertain about your dog’s reaction to some stimulus, stop your bike and wait it out.
If you know how to give proper feedback with a training collar you’ll be prepared to let your dog know to ignore all of the unpredictable things that arise. Over the years, we have had cats, squirrels, turkeys, quail and even a fox cross our path and I was able to easily, allow our dogs to watch, but remain in control.
Some people use bars that attach the dog to the bike. In my opinion, I don’t think this is safe. If a dog runs out after your dog and your dog is attached to the bike a fight could be a disaster. I’ve had dogs run out and I will stop moving first. I get off the bike quickly to access the other dogs approach. If I can see it is friendly, I drop the leash (depending on where you are) and allow the dogs to great each other. You can drop the leash confidently if you are sure your dog won’t run off. If the other dog is acting territorial, I keep my dog next to me or behind me and stand still and a little sideways. It deescalates the situation and helps my dogs to see I’m in control. Usually the other dog stops at about 10ft. to give their warning or just assess us. I stay still, and quiet and as soon as they turn away I start to walk the bike and dog away. I don’t ride right away.
As you are riding keep your leash under your hand on the handle bar for quick correction and never put your thumb in a loop or loop it around the handle bars.
Your dogs are going to be getting a much more intense workout so be aware of the temperature and whether the pavement is hot. Go out when it is cool and take water breaks. If your dog is currently overweight, start with a short bike ride and slowly build.
A good odometer can help you track your daily distance.
Find a pace that your dog can do a fast walk – Keep some slack in the leash to keep pressure off of your dog’s neck. Correct with a leash “pop” and verbal “eh eh’ as needed.
Your dog should stay next to you – not pulling ahead or lagging behind. Practice on a short ride first with no distractions at a quiet time of the day to introduce bike riding.
Your pace will usually be between 5 – 9 mph. Ruby, our vizsla, could walk fast at 11 mph without breaking into a gallop whereas Mack, our medium sized dog with shorter legs preferred 6 mph. Adjust your speed as your dog ages as they will need to slow down. This depends on the height and energy of the dog. Again use an odometer for speed and distance to help.
Here is tip for turning your wheel. Before turning, give your dog some notice by saying a word like, “watch” just before you turn left or right. They will soon learn to pay attention to the direction of the tire. It is not necessary to say left or right.
Stop moving if you think your dog will respond erratically and allow the distraction to move past you or you can slowly walk to keep things calm (trucks, cats, other animals, people with strollers or other moving objects.) Eventually, once you know how your dog responds to various situations and you can keep moving.
Use a basket or backpack to hold water and small bowl, balls, poop bags or any for your other training supplies you might want to have available. Be cautious on hot days. I recommend going early morning before the temperature and pavement gets hot.
With practice you can do this with two dogs at the same time.
Have fun! You’ll never go back to walking again!