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Biking Safely With Your Dog

Today is National Bike to Work Day. Here are some tips for biking with your dog:

Make Sure Your Dog Is Healthy Enough To Keep Up

Safety is the number one priority here, for both you and your pet. Jogging along with you while you bike is excellent exercise for your pup, but it’s strenuous too—make sure your dog is healthy enough to participate.

Start Slow

No mile-long excursions on day one. Ease your dog into biking with you by starting out with some leisurely, short trips.

Get the Gear

It is absolutely essential that you use a non-tangling leash, and that you attach it to your dog with a well-fitted body harness. Do not attach it to a neck collar. If you’re going to be biking at night, or in areas that are not well lit, purchase a reflective vest for your dog (your bike should already have reflectors on it…so should you!) The more light on you, the better, so consider buying a light-up collar or collar attachment. A small first aid kit is another necessity, as is plenty of water for you and your furry running buddy.

Consider Some Extras

If you really want to maximize the experience, there are some additional items you may want to get. Hiking grade dog booties will protect your pooch’s paws from hot ground and sharp objects. For better handling, you can buy a bike leash “baton.” This attaches to the body of the bike, away from the wheels, and adds some additional support and control. Don’t have room for all your stuff and the dog’s stuff? A doggie backpack will enable your pup to tote his own water and treats.

Things You Need to Know

Do not hang the leash on the handlebars—this creates a potentially dangerous situation, as all it takes is a slight pull from your dog in another direction to knock you off balance. The best place to secure the leash is right under your seat. Keep the leash short; your dog should not be able to run in front of the bike.

Always Be Prepared

Especially for long trips, always pack an extra leash and tons of water. Don’t forget the first aid kit, and never go out without your cell phone.

Lots of Praise, Obviously

In order for you to ride safely, there needs to be mutual trust and understanding between you and your dog. Make sure the experience is as fun and happy for him as possible so that he looks forward to going and behaves well while you’re out.

Other Ways To Bike With Your Dog

Not all dogs want to—or are capable of—running along beside you while you bike. If you still want to take him along, you can get a bike trailers designed specifically for dogs. Littler ones can be put in a basket at the front end of your bike—just make sure you secure them in there with a short leash.

Use Common Sense

Unless your dog is completely comfortable and has experience biking with you, avoid busy roads. And if the day is too hot, too cold, too windy, or just too dangerous for whatever reason, stay in—you and your dog’s safety come first, and there will be plenty of better biking days.

Biking is a wonderful source of exercise for you and your pooch, so get out there and enjoy!

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