Riding with your Dog

One of the questions we get asked frequently is “I want to take my little dog with me on my bicycle.  Do you have any suggestions?”  This is tricky based on numerous factors including: type of doggy, type of bike, type of basket, and where you’ll be riding. We at Bicycle Habitat love dogs, so if you’re shopping for a way to bike with your dog, feel free to bring your dog with you to the store!

Here are a few options and their pros and cons. The first two options are ideal for dogs about 20 pounds and under; bigger dogs are only doable on the last option.

On the road: How to take Spot with you

Front Basket
If you want a front basket, make sure your bike is compatible. Some bikes are not built to accommodate racks or cannot handle stays to distribute weight in the front. While wicker baskets and baskets that mount only to the handlebar may look cute(r), they are often bouncy and/or often not capable of handling the weight of an animal.

A basket with decent bottom support or fork mounted struts is the only way to go.  Most importantly, just make sure the front basket can support your canine’s weight (manufacturers usually provide weight capacity info) and that the basket is deep enough for your animal to move and reposition him/herself during your ride.

Pros :

  • Fairly inexpensive.
  • Your dog is always within eyesight.

Cons :

  • High off the ground. It’s a long jump for Fido if he unexpectedly jumps ship.
  • If you steer harshly for some reason, will probably scare doggy a bit.
  • Typically only for dogs under 12 lbs.

Rear Rack/Pannier
Another option (which I use) is a side-mounted pannier bag, attached to the rear rack on your bicycle.  Make sure the rack can take the weight and that the bag has a solid (and preferably flat) base. I use a Tubus Logo rack and a Blackburn Local Grocery Pannier. I like the Blackburn bag because of its adequate depth.  I’ve also used the Jandd Grocery Bag Pannier with great results.

What’s great about both bags mentioned here is the utility and ease of attaching and removing the bag. Some of our customers like using a quick-release basket mounted to the top of a back rack. The Topeak basket integrates with the Topeak rack (probably our most popular rear rack), providing added security. Another option, made specifically with small pets in mind, is the Axiom pet basket (which mounts either to the handlebars or to most back racks).

A panier on your rear rack can be a snug getaway.

Pros :

  • Lower to the ground.
  • Steering is easier when the weight is on the back.
  • Can handle more weight.

Cons :

  • More costly.  You need a qualified rear rack and a dependable rear bag/basket, which can run from $75-$150.
  • Because your dog is behind you, visual monitoring can be trickier.  Also, reaching the dog with your hand is a challenge.

Bicycle Trailer

Lastly, there’s the bicycle trailer.  Good for larger dogs as well, these trailers can usually accommodate 50 to 100 pounds.

Pros :

  • Highest weight capacity.  Bring the Chihuahua and the Mastiff!
  • Many are fully enclosed.  Rain protection.

Cons :

  • The most expensive.
  • Trailer dimensions. This will double your bicycle’s size. With most good trailers, the steering is usually surprisingly simple, but you do have to steer differently and plan ahead on turns.


Saddle up: Tony and his pup.

The final question I often get is how do I get to my dog to ride with me? My answer: Very slowly.  Very, very slowly. Here are a few tips for training, but essentially just ease into it and take your time.

 

Happy riding!

Tony B.

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About bicyclehabitat

New York City's neighborhood bike store since 1978
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