Whether you’re looking for a new pet bike trailer or have questions about your current trailer, these tips from certified dog trainer Maria Schultz are sure to help you and your pet feel more comfortable biking together. And for a full guide on how to train a dog to ride in a bike trailer, check out our Pet Trailer Training Series on YouTube.
What to know before getting started
Check with your veterinarian. Make sure your dog is in good shape. A lot of dogs like to stand in the trailer while it’s moving, it’s the equivalent of hanging their heads out a car window. This means your dog will use a lot of core and leg muscles to balance in the trailer. Check to be sure your dog is physically ready for this new activity. Also be sure your dog is properly vaccinated and that he’s current on monthly preventives for heartworms, fleas, and ticks. Enjoying the outdoors and being on the trails with your dog also means being exposed to bacteria and other bugs.
Be ready to pull a trailer. Pulling a bike trailer with a dog can be physically challenging – even more so if you have a medium to large breed dog. Spend some time pulling the trailer around your neighborhood to get a feel for how your bike handles uphill, downhill, and around turns before you bring your dog. Another thing to keep in mind is that when your dog moves in the trailer, you will feel it while peddling.
Do some basic training. Training your dog to ride in a pet bike trailer is more likely to succeed if your dog can reliably sit-stay, down-stay, and obey a release cue. Your dog may be sitting in the trailer for long periods of time. Make sure your dog has a good stay, and that you’ve done some work on impulse control.
Purchase the right gear. Select a bike that will be stable and comfortable for pulling a trailer. Will you be on pavement, trails or both? What tires will offer the least rolling resistance? A trip to your local bike shop for some advice on the right bike and the right gear will go a long way to ensure your comfort.
Safety considerations when biking with a dog
It takes time to build trust. Your dog has to trust you not to put him in harm’s way, tip the trailer, or ride into danger. You have to trust your dog not to unexpectedly jump out of the trailer. This activity will build a stronger bond with your dog if you take your time and train at your dog’s pace!
Start on pavement and roads with little traffic. Many dogs have trouble with the vibration from rough roads. Start riding on smooth pavement and work up to the bumpy trails gradually. You’ll also want to ride on roads with less traffic when possible. The Tail Wagon and Bark Ranger are wider than most bikes, so it takes time to understand how much space you need to keep from passing cars.
Always wear a helmet. This goes without staying, helmets should always be worn when riding your bicycle – with or without a trailer, and even on those super short training runs!
Increase your visibility. Bicyclists share the roads with distracted drivers and share the trails with runners, families, and other dogs. Being seen is important. Consider adding a taillight to the back of your dog bike trailer and a head light to the front of your bike when riding at dusk or in dark conditions.
Know how to change a flat tire. You probably carry a spare tube for your bike tires, but do you have one for your trailer? Be sure to keep a spare tube on hand for any unforeseen issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my dog keep jumping out of the trailer? This most likely means your dog isn’t comfortable in the trailer yet. For some dogs, it’s difficult when your back is turned to them. For others it’s simply the sensation of movement. Try to pinpoint what your dog is struggling with and take your training back a few steps. Some dogs learn new activities quickly, others can take longer to build confidence.
Can my senior dog or puppy ride in the trailer? Yes! Your training plan will be the same no matter what age your dog is. Puppies will have a harder time sitting still, so keep your rides short for them! If you have any concerns about your senior dog riding in a bike trailer, check with your veterinarian first.
Should my dog wear eye protection? Eye protection is never a bad idea. If you plan on riding with the front panel open, it’s possible for debris from the tires to get into the trailer and on your dog. Adding a fender to your bike or closing the front panel can also help address this concern.
For more information on any of our dog bike trailers, visit our Pet Line page, or check out our Product Feature videos. To learn more about Maria’s dog training programs, visit her website or Instagram.