1. Buy a hands-free bike leash.
There are dog biking leashes to safely attach your dog’s leash to your bike so you can have both hands free at all times. Try the Springer brand or the WalkyDog. For more information, check out my review on the hands-free bike leash.
2. Start out by walking with your dog and bike.
To introduce Ace to my bike, I started by walking him on my left with my bike on my right. I was in the middle. This was an easy way to get Ace used to the bike, and to teach him that he still has to heel when the bike is involved. I didn’t want my dog to be scared of the bike or too excited by it.
3. Start out embarrassingly slow.
The first time I biked with Ace, I went really slow, slow enough so I could easily stop and correct him if he went ahead or tried to jump up at me. Early on a Sunday morning is a good time to try it, especially on a quiet street or park.
4. Don’t tie the leash to your handle bars.
Tying a dog’s leash to a bike is is a disaster waiting to happen. I have never done this because I am afraid Ace’s leash will get caught in the bike. He could take off after anything and knock the whole bike over. Instead, I just hold his leash in my left hand.
When I bike with Ace, I allow him the same amount of slack as I do on a walk. I don’t want the leash tight and pulling him, but I don’t want him to have the freedom to run out in front of the bike, either.
6. Teach your dog turn commands.
A dog can learn the commands left and right, or simply “turn!” This is valuable when you want to turn inward without slowing down too much and without hitting your dog! I have started teaching Ace these commands by saying “left” or “right” as I am preparing to turn. I make sure to slow down so he has enough time to react.
I don’t think he actually knows what these commands mean, but he knows when I say something we will be turning directions. He is always paying attention.
7. Don’t be afraid to stop and walk by people.
When Ace was first learning to run next to my bike, I would stop every time we approached another person, whether they were walking, running, biking or whatever. I did not want to risk an accident, such as Ace running up to another dog and getting the leashes tangled in my tires. I still often stop and yield to others when Ace is along.
8. Carry a ball or treats.
Have something to bribe your dog. I keep a slingshot ball tied to my handlebars and Ace doesn’t leave my sight for anything. If there’s something your dog loves, find a creative way to use that to keep his attention.
9. Know how far your dog can go.
My dog overheats very easily. He is also the type of dog that will run himself sick because he doesn’t know when to quit. I have to set limits for him and only bike with Ace in short sessions. I carry water in a small backpack and check the pads of his feet afterward to make sure they aren’t worn. I also challenge myself by biking with a backpack on (to carry more weight) and using the most difficult gears. These are little ways to make it easier for Ace to keep up.
10. Don’t bike with your dog until he’s ready.
If you’re not comfortable biking with your dog, it’s probably better not to. Wait until your dog is totally under control on a normal walk before you even think about biking with him. If he’s crazy around other dogs or people running, it’s not worth it to risk getting hurt or losing your dog. Use your best judgment.
Remember your helmet!