Dogs on Bikes

Welcome to our resources page for cycling with dogs. Here you’ll find a guide to some dog friendly bike equipment and a few tips to make it work.

,Choosing a Ride for Your Dog:

Paws to the Floor

Cycling is a great way for both you and your dog to get exercise, especially for hyper-active dogs held back by a boring old walk. But holding a leash while cycling is potentially dangerous: one sudden jolt towards a cat or a squirrel and you might be toppling over. Are there safer alternatives?

Yes! If your dog is well trained and can run off-leash that is great for safe, car free areas. But if your dog has a mind of their own, or traffic is involved, then attaching them to your ride is the way to go. All of those moving legs, paws, wheels and pedals may sound like a recipe for an accident, but with the right setup it is a very safe and fun way to exercise your dog and get from A to B.

Courtesy of WalkyDog

While custom attachments can be setup (particularly for trailers, longtail bikes and tricycles rather than normal bicycles), using a specialised bike/dog leash is the safest option. The leash will keep a safe distance between your bike and your dog, protecting your dog from pedals, wheels and traffic. Coiled springs act as shock absorbers, so most of the force is taken out of an unexpected tug.

Courtesy of DoggyRide

Here are some links to the most popular bike/dog leashes:

1-Running-Dog Bike Tow Leash (USA) www.biketowleash.com
DoggyRide Handsfree Leash Connector (USA/Holland) www.doggyride.com
Springer (USA/Europe) www.springeramerica.com
WalkyDog
(USA) www.petego.com

For those who have an energetic pulling breed like a Husky or a Staffordshire Terrier that just loves to run, then you might be interested in going without pedals altogether. Pawtrekker (dealers in Europe and North America) www.pawtrekker.com offer purpose built scooters where the dogs are harnessed and attached in front, very much like sledding. In fact sledders, aka ‘mushers’, use the scooter as a way of conditioning and training sled dogs all year round. ‘Peddling’, or pushing off with your foot helps out your dog out and simulates the actual peddling on a dog sled, without needing to be anywhere near the Arctic. The scooters can be setup with disc brakes, full suspension, and studded tires (for use in snow), and can be easily folded for convenient transport.

It is easy to get swept up in the excitement of your dog running beside you, propelling you even faster along a trail, but keep a few things in mind:

  • A dog has a mind of its own and a sprint can turn into a squat in an instant. Start off slow and ease them into things until you develop an understanding of each other.
  • Bring water and a bowl along for your dog, and keep them well hydrated
  • Hot, rough or asphalt roads may be abrasive to their paw pads. Where possible ride on trails or close to grassy or sandy road edges. Otherwise slow down or try booties or “paw wax,” which is designed to be a light, non-obtrusive layer on the paws to protect them from heat and sharp objects.
  • Not every dog has the stamina of a husky or the persistence of a border collie, and not every dog is capable of running a marathon. But fear not, help is on hand. Things have come a long way since Toto went for a bike ride in the Wizard of Oz. Continue to read about getting paws on wheels…

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Baskets and Carriers for Small Dogs

Smaller dogs (under 25 lbs/11kg) are easy and fun to transport on a bike and for those not wanting to custom build, luxurious off the shelf options are available. They usually attach either to the handlebars or fasten to the top of a back rack.

Here are some links to the most popular baskets and carriers:

Pet Travel Centre (USA) www.pettravelcenter.com
Cynthia’s Twigs
(USA) www.cynthiastwigs.com
KlickFix
(Germany) www.klickfix.com

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Choosing a Two Wheel Dog Trailer

For dogs that need a bit more leg room, specialized dog trailers are the most popular choice. A dog trailer is basically a more doggy-fied spin on a child trailer, distinguished by its flat, reinforced base. However unlike child trailers where the child sits strapped up on the axle, a dog sits or lays down differently and can even move around, affecting stability and tip-ability.

Here are 10 important things to consider and compare when choosing a dog trailer:

  • Size & weight: Check the maximum weight capacity and internal dimensions of the trailer. Your dog must be able to sit, stand, turn around and curl up comfortably. The bigger the dog the lower the centre of gravity and the wider the wheelbase should be.
  • Intended use: Is it for occasional weekend use, trail riding or long distance touring? This will dictate how much money you are willing to spend, and what features are most important to you.
  • Brand reputation: Choose a reputable company with solid experience in making bicycle trailers.
  • Safety Standards: Does the trailer meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards or in Europe TUV/GS safety standards?
  • Frame warranty: Warranty length is a good indication of quality and warranties vary from 30 days to a lifetime.
  • Frame design: For increased stability, dogs over 80 lbs are best suited to a trailer with a low center of gravity and wide wheel base. A perimeter frame (frame section that extends around the wheel) adds more width to a trailer which may limit access, but makes it stronger and prevents the wheel from snagging on, or banging into obstacles. Some folding trailer mechanisms trade off on the stability of the frame. If you are going trail riding, check there will be high enough clearance for getting over bumpy terrain.
  • Safety features: Is there a way to safely secure your dog in the trailer? Is there a hitch safety strap? Is there a way to safely separate your dog and cargo? Cycling with extra weight means you will pick up extra speed going downhill. If you plan on cycling hilly terrain with heavy loads, you may want to consider a trailer with an automatic braking system (offered by Cycletote and Tony’s Trailers).
  • Wheels: Spoked alloy wheels are higher quality than plastic wheels, and larger wheels will be smoother over bumps than smaller wheels. If you are interested in long tours, regular 26”/28” sized bicycle wheels might be handy, as you won’t have to double up on spare parts (see CycleTote trailers).
  • Access: How easily can your dog get in and out? Does the trailer need to fit through a doorway, and will it be able to? Do you have the option of completely enclosing your dog, while providing adequate ventilation and an opening for tall dogs to poke their head out?
  • Cleaning & Storage: Does it have a removable floor for easy cleaning? How easily can it be folded for transport or storage? Can it be used as a pet kennel? For those pet owners who already own an airline kennel, Tony’s Trailers and CycleTote offer a frame/kennel combo solution.

Here are some links to the most popular dog trailers:

Burley (USA) www.burley.com
Croozer
(Germany) www.croozerdesigns.com
CycleTote
(USA) www.cycletote.com
Doggy Ride
(USA/Holland ) www.doggyride.com
Equinox Trailers
(USA) www.equinoxtrailers.com
PETEGO
(USA) www.petego.com
SOLVIT
(USA) www.solvitproducts.com
WIKE
(Canada) www.wicycle.com

Here are a few things to keep in mind about two wheel trailers:

  • Compared to a single wheel trailer a cargo bike, a two wheel trailer will distribute much of the cargo weight between the wheels, reducing burden on your bicycle.
  • Towing a lightly loaded bike trailer on flat ground is nearly the same as riding without one. You’ll notice the extra weight when accelerating or decelerating, but the bike will handle pretty much the same as it always does.
  • With suitably low gears, cycling up most road grades is feasible, especially as you build your strength with time and practice. And remember, a hill is a good opportunity for your dog to be able to trot at a slower pace beside the bike.
  • You will lose your zippiness on a trailer. You will be slower to start and slower to cross streets.
  • Two wheel trailers can flip on bumpy ground. Go slower around corners and on rocky trails.
  • Muddy, boggy, dirt and gravel roads, combined with extra wheels makes it feel like twice the effort for half the speed.
  • A two wheel trailer will be wider, making it more awkward to navigate around barriers and ride narrow trails.

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: An Airline Kennel on Wheels

Tony's Trailers Customised Suspension Trailer.

Why let the kennel gather dust when you can put it to use? For those pet owners who already own a plastic airline kennel, Tony’s Trailers in Canada, CycleTote in the USA, and UK based Carry Freedom offer a solution. These companies offer basic trailer frames sized to fit many standard kennel sizes. Customised options are also available. One drawback of an airline kennel is restricted vision and airflow.

Here are some links to the most popular airline kennel dog trailers:

Carry Freedom (UK) www.carryfreedom.com
CycleTote
(USA) www.cycletote.com
Tony’s Trailers
(Canada) www.tonystrailers.com

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Customise a Single Wheel Trailer

Rambo's customised Weber Monoporter

Single wheel trailers are great for narrow roads and trails, and with suspension can perform well off-road. They have a low center of gravity, and handle well on downhills and bends. Be wary though, when you lean into a corner the trailer and your dog will lean too. Another thing to be wary of is bike wobble if your dog is moving around a lot.

Here are some links to the most popular single wheel dog trailers:

B.O.B  (USA) www.bobgear.com
Weber
(Germany) www.weber-products.de

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Customise a Two Wheel Trailer

Two wheel cargo trailers can also be adapted for the four-legged kind. Just make sure you have a way to harness them in, and some sort of guard in place to keep your dog from getting their nose or tail into the wheel spokes!

Here are some links for customising a two wheel trailer:

Roland Werk (Germany) www.roland-werk.de/
Wulfhorst
(Germany) www.wulfhorst.de

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Kaycee riding on the Xtracycle wideloaders. Photo courtsey of Murray and the Southland Times (NZ)

Longtail Cargo Bicycles

If you want extra carrying capacity without the extra wheels and the rolling resistance of a trailer or tricycle, a long tail cargo bicycle may appeal to you. Put simply, a bigger behind on your bicycle allows for a bigger basket or crate, and a bigger dog. Think a tandem bicycle made for one set of pedals.

The advantages are large bags for storing odds and ends and increased capacity for carrying awkward loads from boxes, to guitars, to surfboards, to pets. After a brief adjustment period, riding one becomes smooth and second nature, just like a normal bike.

Here are some links to the most popular longtail cargo bikes:

Kona (USA) www.konaworld.com
Surly
(USA) www.surlybikes.com
Trek
(USA) www.trekbikes.com
Xtracycle
www.xtracycle.com
Yuba
(USA) www.yubaride.com

Check out Cyclorama for other types of load carrying bikes.

If you already own a bicycle and don’t want to part, then Xtracycle offers a bolt-on ‘free-radical’ kit which can be retro fitted onto most bicycles. This basically means adding a frame extension and a longer chain to lengthen the wheel base of your average bike by shifting your rear wheel back 15 inches. Voila! A longtail is born. A range of accessories are available to suit all kinds of setups.

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Test riding the Nihola Cigar Dog in Berlin

Try a Trike

Tricycles are more than just training wheels on a children’s bike. These days they are high-tech transporters for hauling heavy loads in practical ways. Sure, trikes are expensive. Sure, trikes are heavy. But not as heavy and not as expensive as a car, and loads more fun and eco-friendly. The extra weight does limit their use in hilly regions, but some models like the Kangaroo and Christiania trikes can be fitted with an electric motor for a helping hand. Steering the models with two front wheels feels a little wacky at first, but with some practice you’ll be nimble in no time.

Here are some links to the most popular trikes:

Bakfiets (Netherlands) www.bakfiets.nl/eng
Christiania Bikes
(Denmark) www.christianiabikes.com
Cyclemaximus
(UK) www.cyclesmaximus.com
Nihola
(Denmark) www.nihola.com
Pashley
(UK) www.pashley.co.uk

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Get Rolling

Once you have picked your ride of choice, here are a few tips for easing your dog into life on wheels:

  • Start with shorter trips to somewhere fun and make it a positive experience. Reward your dog with some treats. Add a favourite blanket. Don’t take them to the vet on their first trip!
  • Your dog may appear a little uncertain at first, but should learn to lie down and relax with time.
  • Make sure your pet is harnessed in safely: allow as much movement as possible, without compromising safety.
  • If your dog is behind you, consider using a mirror that you can position to keep an eye on them
  • Try and avoid temperature extremes. If your dog is sitting still they may become colder than you. Provide blankets and clothing if necessary. Avoid running your dogs too much in hot weather. Provide plenty of water.
  • Dogs, much like people, have their own personalities and rates of adjusting to different challenges. Have some patience and a desire to tinker to make small improvements along the way.

So, as you can see riding a bike aint’ necessarily what it used to be. With all the cargo hauling options out there, more and more people are taking to their pedals, and finding less and less reason for heading to the gas station. Why not let your dog join in on the fun? From the smallest Chihuahua to the greatest of Great Danes, there is room on board for everybody. Combining paws and pedals is guaranteed to add more smiles per mile to everyone’s day

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20 thoughts on “Dogs on Bikes

  1. Hi Zoe and Fin (and Paco and Jack :D)

    I just wanted to say hello because I have read all your blog, and think that what you are doing is absolutely amazing and inspiring (and hard ;)), and I really enjoyed so much reading every story you’ve written.
    My dog is a senior now (10y), and has some problems with back legs, so I bought him also a trailer, a CroozerDog, although my intentions were to buy DoggyRide, but I couldn’t find it because here in Croatia there aren’t any and from other countries it is hard to have them deliver to this part of the Europe :)
    Well, we are happy with CroozerDog, my dog loves it so much. Most of our rides are short and just to nearby lake or wood, but just last week we came back from our little nomadic/camping adventure which lasted for a week, and we went on little traveled roads and through old villages and woods and hills … It was so great!

    Here are couple of photos
    Link 1
    Link 2
    Link 3

    Bye and have a safe and pleasant ride in the UK.

    Greetings from Croatia,
    Mina and Maks

    • Hi Mina and Maks,
      Thanks for the photos and the news on your adventures. It makes us very happy to hear that you had a great time. We made it to Slovenia on our European trip and would have loved to have cycled in Croatia, but we stuck to the Schengen countries due to visa complications. One day…
      Keep us updated on any future trips. If you want to do a guest post on your travels with your dog that would also be great…

      • I don’t know what happend, but I didn’t get your message at all … First time I see your reply :P
        Croatia is a bit dog-unfriendly, they can’t drive in trains (only in cargo :( ) or buses or trams, and with the Shengen agreement, it’s even more difficult to visit Croatia by bikes and with dogs, unfortunately. But, don’t think that people here don’t love dogs, oh they do, and they educate themselves more, and try to incorporate dogs in their lives much more then earlier, but laws have stayed the same for too long.
        My dog, Maks, got a companion, a young Doberman female, so we will have new adventures with bikes, but this time one dog will run alongside :D (I can’t wait!).
        I’ve done just a short slideshow with more photos of last time adventure, and also here is one photo of my other dog, called Mo.
        Biking with dog, August 2011
        Maks and Mo

        Oh, and I want to let you know about a brave woman from Croatia that will travel alone with her dog around the world!
        http://www.happiness-around-the-world.com/

        Take care and best of luck,
        Mina

      • Hi Mina,

        Because Crotia is not part of Shengen we never got to visit. It looks like such a beautiful country though.
        Mo is a very attractive dog. I like the photos of Maks with the raspberries. I love dogs and I love raspberries! It looks like he loves to swim. The birthday cake you made for him is very sweet. If Paco saw a cat he would only chase it. It seems Maks is a very loveable dog. I hope he is accepting of Maks.
        I’ve added your friends link to our blogsite. It looks like quite an adventure. We decided against going through China and Africa with the dogs, partly due to the heat for Jack and the mindset of how people in some countries view dogs. Does your friend have a trailer for Onni? It would be too long for him to just run beside the bike. Dogs do better with short fast distances than long ones. Couchsurfing was a challenge for us as most people can’t accommodate, 2 humans, 2 dogs and two fully loaded bikes with trailers. We wish her well!
        Thanks again for your lovely pictures and saying hi! I’ll make it to Crotia one day, perhaps not with the dogs on bikes though.

    • Thanks for the most recent comment, my apologies for not responding sooner to this one. Paco and Jack send tailwags to Mo and Maks. Dogs and bikes are like dark chocolate and strong coffee, they belong together. All the best in 2012!

      • Hi!

        Yes, Croatia is sooo beautiful and even though very small, it has valleys and mountains, endless woods and so many rivers, lakes and beautiful clear sea, old historical cities and many national parks …. Maybe one day you’ll be able to come here, it would be great :).
        Thank you for all the lovely comments about Maks and Mo, you made me laugh and think of the days when those photos were taken … We have a small land where we grow veggies and fruits, and this summer we picked at least two kilos of raspberries every single day for over a month :D , you would love it. Maks really loves water, luckily we’re near a river and a stream, so he can go there daily to take a dip … he is the sweetest dog ever, so gentle, good and always happy. Mo is also great, but still a bit shy and scared of some people, but very affectionate with us. I’m planning a little trip in spring with dog(s) and bike through one part of Croatia, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

        That woman ordered a trailer, a DoggyRide, the one that Paco has, so she still has five months to practice and accustome her dog on it (my Maks was riding with me after only two days like he’s doing it forever, but he’s really something special). She seems eager and dedicated to this adventure, and has even found some sponsors, so hopefully everything will turn out just fine for her. I agree with you about China and Africa beeing a bit to risky for dogs, but I can only wish her safe journey and strong mind and body….

        I apsolutely agree with your comment about dark chocolate and strong coffee :D, so so true.

        Bye,
        Mina

  2. It sure helps when the dog is pulling forward. Did you get some paw help using the Bike Tow Leash to get to 10,000 ft La Manga Pass in the photo? What a challenge even without all your gear!

  3. Really great resource! We’re dying to add a dog to our new family but debating whether to do it before or after our cycling tour of Nova Scotia next summer. This advice might tip the scale to sooner rather than later, thanks!

    • Hi there local traveler. I am glad you found our blog useful.

      Make sure you have plenty of time before your trip as some dogs take a while to get used of riding in a trailer. Unfortunately some dogs just don’t take to it. I was lucky that both of my dogs were good from the get go.

      We have cycled through Nova Scotia and although the scenery is lovely the narrow roads can be downright dangerous. There are sections with two-lane highways and limited or no shoulders and drivers are not always patient with slow-moving cyclists. It was one of the more dangerous places we have cycled.

      We have heard many cyclists praise PEI.

      As I am replying terribly late, did you end up getting a dog?

  4. great blog and some useful imfo. i have a border collie and she is well trained in runing along side of me without the leash but did u face any angry police or anything or would you see it as a posibility at anytime. also are there any countries that make you buy licenses for dogs? im going to travel europe in about three months and see how i get on. no timescale though!

    • Hello Stewart,

      Border collies are lovely. I wish I could tap into their energy. We didn’t have to buy licenses but when I brought my dogs to Belgium all the proper paperwork had to be done (International vet certificate, ISO microchip, rabies vaccination and de-worming). Once in Belgium they had to get a Pet Passport which allowed them to travel freely around the Schengen Area (26 European countries that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders). To enter Norway and the UK my dogs also had to have a rabies titer test which measures their rabies antibody levels. This test was quite expensive but as long as their rabies vaccinations are kept up to date and documented, it is a onetime cost.
      In many cities dogs must be leashed and if you disobey you may be fined. We never had any problems though and police officers were always pleasant. Perhaps seeing a dog on a bike puts people in a good mood. We were once pulled over by Texas border control officers but all they wanted was to ensure we had enough water for us and our dogs. There are some pretty long desolate stretches in West Texas.
      Did you do your tour with your dog? If so, I’d love to post some photos and highlights.
      Take care :)

    • Our blog is due for a big update in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for a post on Goliath in June. Judy is truly inspiring as are your trailer designs.

  5. I m looking for a solution how to hide my big dog when entering the building I live in from the ccv cameras …I m going to change home but I need some time … for now unless I want to be evicted or give my loved dog away for adoption I must find a sort of trick to use at least once at day…during night time is ok…if anyone can suggest me a intelligent way like a sort of Troja Horse for sneak in a dog….this situation I m in only for my ex boyfriend who left his flat and my house contract is no pet allowed…if anyone can help!I would died rather then give my dog away!London has many pets refuges bursting and yet the policy is made so that dogs and loving dogs owners have to be separated to have the chance to a home!

    • Hello Anna,

      I hope you figured out a way of sneaking your dog inside. I know it can be difficult to find a rental when you have a pet. I have two dogs which makes it all the more difficult.

      Depending on the size and nature of your dog you could put your dog in a big hockey bag and carry him/her in.

      When we stayed at a hotel with a one pet/room rule we had to sneak Paco in as Jack is too big to camouflage. Paco was a good sport and let us surround him with our sleeping bag to carry him in. He did not fuss or make a peep, he knew what we were up to. Dogs are so smart.

      I hope it all worked out for you.

      Take care.

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  9. Hello! I am considering buying a dog trailer for my dog Noble. He is 60 pounds. I’ve looked at the Croozer, Burley, DoggyRide, and Wike dog trailer models. Do you have a favourite that you would recommend, and why?

    • Hello Erica,

      We have not tried the Croozer, Burley or Wike trailers.

      We used the DoggyRide trailer on our 2 month trip in the UK. It did rain alot, especially in Wales and near the Scottish border. Paco stayed completely dry in his DoggyRide trailer. He was the only dry one of the bunch. The DoggyRide comes with an additional rain cover which is helpful during downpours. As it was so waterproof we often put our panniers in it overnight so we didn’t have sopping wet panniers in the morning.

      We have found that the DoggyRide trailer is very well designed, quite durable and relatively light. We are quite hard on our equipment and due to our heavy loads we end up having a lot of flat tires. With regards to the DoggyRide, the wheels and the hitch come off easily and the trailer folds down for ease of transport.

      There are screens on the front and sides for ventilation and we kept the front unzipped, wide open, so Paco could feel like he was totally free. He loves to have his snout in the breeze. The harness/safety attachment inside the trailer allowed Paco to move around freely but prevented him from jumping out. He goes crazy when he spots bunnies, deer or wild turkeys. The trailer has a padded chin rest which was great for Paco as he could lie down in the trailer and rest his chin on the front and watch the world go by. Paco felt very comfortable and secure in his trailer and we could leave him in it if we had to go inside a store or coffeeshop. Sometimes after a long day of cycling he would fall asleep in it and we would leave him in the trailer to sleep through the night.

      For non dog trips, you can also use the DoggyRide to transport groceries and such.

      I’d love to see a pic of Noble – great name!

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