ANN/THE STAR – If you’re considering taking your dog with you on a bike ride, there are a few things to consider first.
Is the dog fit enough to keep up? And if not, can we transport the animal on the bike? In both cases, the dog must be acclimatized with patience.
Running alongside a bicycle is really only suitable for healthy adult dogs, said Sarah Ross, a companion animal expert with an animal welfare organization in Germany.
As a general rule, she recommends that the dog be at least a year and a half old. Old dogs and overweight dogs should also not participate in this strenuous activity.
Race also plays a role. While typical family dogs such as Beagles and Labradors, as well as herding and hunting dogs, have plenty of stamina, short-muzzled breeds such as French and English Bulldogs are physically unsuited to long periods of race.
TRY IT FIRST
“To get started, you first need to familiarize the dog with the bike while it’s still standing,” Ross recommended. If the furry friend sniffs the bike, reward him with praise and treats.
To introduce the dog to the new type of locomotion, first push the bike. If the dog willingly runs alongside, you can saddle up. “It’s a good idea to practice in a traffic-calmed area or in a parking lot,” Ross said.
Once on the way, you should keep an eye on the dog to make sure he is not physically overworked. The rhythm is best defined by the animal itself.
Depending on race and fitness, 10 kilometers at a time is possible, said Alexander Giebler of a cycling awareness campaign in Germany.
But if the dog is panting heavily or slowing down, it’s time to take a break. Even if the dog is not made to run long distances, a joint bike ride is not excluded.
“Small dogs can travel in special bicycle baskets, large dogs can be taken in small trailers as passengers,” Ross said.
WELCOMING THE DOG ON THE BIKE TRIP
If a dog knows a bicycle basket as well as his own basket, he will remain seated during the journey, explains dog trainer Anton Fichtlmeier.
Ideally this will be a handlebar mounted basket so you always have an eye on the dog.
To ensure that the handling of the bicycle is not affected, the dog must not weigh more than five kilograms (kg).
If the dog weighs more, a bike trailer is an option, and many dog trailers can accommodate dogs weighing up to 45 kg.
The dog must be thoroughly accustomed to the trailer. To build trust, you can try a classic puppy school method. First, lure the animal into the trailer with a treat, then pull it back out before giving it a reward.
You can also move the home feeding place into the trailer or put a favorite toy or blanket into the trailer.
The first tests with the dog and the trailer must be carried out carefully. First, push the trailer with the dog on board before hitching it to the bike and starting to pedal.
When riding a cargo bike, the acclimatization process is very similar, Ross said: build trust, praise boarding, push first, then ride.
“If the dog shows fear or stress behavior during any of the stages, be absolutely patient and go back to the previous stage first,” the pet expert advised.
However, she said not all dogs would agree to ride in a basket, trailer or cargo bike: “Some dogs just don’t like it and it’s important to accept that as an owner.”