Cycling with your dog is a good way to build condition and provide good muscle development. The rectilinear movement next to the bike ensures an even load on the joints. When cycling, it’s important to keep a good pace and build up the training in the right way.
Dogs from seven to nine months can already walk short distances, calmly, next to the bike, provided that they are in good condition, well built, already fully grown and not too fat. In general, it’s wise to wait with cycling until the dog is twelve months (larger breeds one and a half years), unless the veterinarian prescribes otherwise.
Is it allowed and possible?
We recommend that you always consult your veterinarian first when in doubt. Walking next to the bike is a nice, regular and straightforward movement for dogs. You should build up the cycling well and do not underestimate the risk of overheating. For some short-snouted dogs and mini breeds, walking next to the bike can be too strenuous.
How to start
You start by getting the dog used to the bike. First, let him get acquainted with a stationary bike. You walk a small distance with the bike on your left side and the leashed dog on your right side. The next step is to run between the dog and the bicycle. Going well? Is your dog walking along without pulling? You can take both the dog and the bike on your right hand. Keep the bike between you and the dog. Is this going well too? You can try to cycle a small distance (about one hundred meters). Begin on a quiet road and practice straight lines, and later in turns. The dog keeps walking next to the bike without pulling. Not in front and also not behind it, this is in the interest and the safety of both you and your dog. In the beginning, five minutes of cycling is more than enough.
First walk, then cycle!
The average walking pace of the dog next to the bike is 10 to 15 kilometers per hour. Depending on the dog, this can also be slightly slower or faster. The dog should walk in a steady trot next to the bike. He should not go into gallop! That is really his highest gear and a sign that he runs at the top of his capabilities. Galloping is very carrying on the shoulder joint and the other joints of the front legs. Trotting strengthens the muscles of the hindquarters and that’s very important for many dogs. Trotting is a symmetrical gait, in which you can notice irregularities easily. In the gallop, a dog can compensate for more defects. If a dog is galloping a lot or transitioning quickly into a gallop, it may indicate that something is physically wrong.
- Make sure the dog has done his needs before you start cycling.
- Make sure there’s a good warming-up and cooling-down: let the dog warm up and slow down calmly.
- Do not cycle with a dog that has just eaten, wait at least three hours after a meal.
- Do not feed your dog immediately after cycling, wait at least half an hour.
- Do not let your dog walk directly next to the road. Between the verge and pavement there are often shards of glass and sharp stones on which he can hurt his soles.
- When you get home, always check your dog's pads for damage. Stop riding immediately if the pads appear damaged or if your dog starts limping.
- For the safety of both yourself and your dog, use an attachment system like the Springer. This is a special rod that you can attach to the bike with a cord that’s attached on your dog. A suspension between the rod and the cord ensures that the dog can’t just pull you over with your bike, and this way you can keep both hands on the wheel.
- Let the dog drink small sips of water during exercise. Offer him fresh lukewarm water after cycling, but not too much at once.
- Do not cycle in hot weather, a temperature of 18-20 degrees Celsius can already be too hot!
- In the summer, prefer to cycle in the early morning, as the asphalt is cooler then. In the evening the asphalt can still be (too) warm. Want to check how warm the road surface is? Hold your bare hands against it for a while or step on it yourself with bare feet.
- In the winter months, if salt is sprinkled on the roads, rinse the soles of your dog’s feet with tepid water when he comes home. You can also treat the soles of his feet with a protective spray before going cycling.
It often happens that we are only satisfied when the dog comes back from a walk or bike ride with his tongue on his legs and then immediately falls asleep like a log. But what we label as 'nicely tired' can mean exhaustion for the dog. Some people cycle a lot to let the dog get rid of his energy, but what you’re actually doing is building up (even) more stamina. Did you know that a dog also finds much satisfaction in and gets tired of quiet tracking and thinking games?
Instead of riding a bike, you can also go scootering with your dog. This is not only fun for your four-legged friend, but also a good workout for you! In the beginning, Go scootering in small distances, for example two kilometers at a low speed, and slowly increase time and speed. In the beginning, when the dog still has to build up condition, do not step every day, but every other day. Step up to three days a week and build in sufficient rest days. Good luck and have fun!