Ten things to keep in mind when bicycling with your dog
When the weather is nice, we all enjoy spending time outdoors in nature with our dogs, and bicycling with a dog is a popular activity.
However, there are a few things you should bear in mind when cycling with your dog. This article presents the various factors involved.
Responsible bicycling with your dog has positive health effects
Running alongside a bike helps strengthen your dog’s muscles and boost its overall condition. It also gets the cardiovascular system up and running.
When to avoid bicycling with your dog
There are definitely some situations and health conditions when it isn’t healthy for your dog to go with you when you go for a bike ride.
This is the case if your dog is severely overweight, still growing (younger than 12 to 18 months), or very old. Dogs that are in pain should not run alongside a bike, either. If your dog has joint problems, you should consult your veterinarian in detail. But also at any other time when your dog’s health is not optimal, such as when there is an infection, fever, flu, diarrhea, etc., running alongside your bike is taboo, along with any other physical exertion.
I also recommend that very large dogs with a lot of mass not engage in this activity, and I believe the same goes for very small dogs, especially those with short, crooked legs and a long back, such as Dachshunds. Their body simply isn’t made to run alongside a bike.
Do you need special equipment?
To some dog owners, that might sound like a silly question, but it is very important to make sure the dog can move freely when running along as you ride your bike. I recommend that you lead your dog by a well-fitted harness that does not pinch or cut into the skin. That is the only way to make sure your dog has full freedom of movement without being impeded by the harness. If your dog runs on a leash, a collar is not very suitable, and a harness is definitely a better choice.
Please don’t let your dog pull you on your bike! You should also make sure your dog runs along calmly by your side instead of running here and there on a long leash. That carries a high risk of accidents for the dog and owner alike, as well as other pedestrians or cyclists.
Any kind of physical exertion is twice as difficult on a full stomach and can even become a health risk. It doesn’t take much for a dog to suffer stomach torsion in this case, and the cardiovascular system also suffers and may break down. This means you should avoid feeding your dog right before going for a ride. You should also give it a chance to relieve itself beforehand.
Don’t forget to warm up!
Briefly warming up the joints and muscles significantly reduces the risk of injury and gets the body ready for the upcoming physical activity. This means the body is better equipped to deal with sudden and abrupt movements. The muscles and joints move more smoothly, and the cardiovascular system can ramp up accordingly as well.
Simple everyday exercises, such as going from standing to sitting, standing to down, offering a paw, turning in a circle, a number of turns and jogging or trotting for a short time are perfect for this.
The optimum surface for running
In most cases, there is no way to completely avoid it, but asphalt and gravel are not very suitable surfaces for running alongside a bike, since they cause much greater strain on the joints. Especially if your dog already has joint problems, you should avoid this. Paths through forests and fields are a better fit for bike rides with your dog, as they offer excellent cushioning for your dog’s movements.
The right amount – how long should a dog run alongside a bike?
It isn’t possible to make a sweeping recommendation for this, of course. However, I do recommend starting with short distances, especially if you are just starting to take your dog out for bike rides or after a long break over the winter.
These short distances are a gentle way to get your dog’s body in shape. You can then increase the time and distance by small steps, building up gradually and sensibly. Ideally, you can start with a few minutes at a jog and then slow to a walk, followed by another few minutes of jogging. This gives your dog a chance to get in shape slowly and in a healthy way, preventing muscle aches and overexertion.
A trot or jog is perfect for running alongside a bike. It is gentlest on the joints, and it is also the most energy-saving gait for your dog. You should always adjust the pace to your canine companion’s size. Long stretches at a gallop are not recommended, as they are not good for your dog’s joints. If you notice that your dog is slowing down to a walk or is panting hard, be sure to give it a break or stop the activity right away.
Observe your dog closely
Are your dog’s movements and activity level normal after going for a run alongside your bike? Or is the dog clumsy or noticeably calm and quiet? If so, you may have overwhelmed it. Like people, dogs can suffer painful muscle aches if they run too fast or for too long. If this occurs, please adjust the amount of activity.
Breaks are important
Even if you and your dog are having a great time, you should take your dog for a run alongside your bike a maximum of every other day. For one thing, the body needs a chance to recover, and for another, a dog is proven to build muscle only during breaks in training.
Bicycling in hot weather is a no-no
This will be familiar to you from your own activities: At very high temperatures, the body’s physical capacity decreases. You tire easily, run out of breath, and sweat streams from your skin. Our dogs are no different. Running alongside a bike at high temperatures is extremely challenging for your dog and its cardiovascular system. Your dog doesn’t experience the cooling effect of the wind generated by riding the bike. On top of that, it is even hotter closer to the ground than it is at the height of your bike seat.
Your dog’s paws are at risk, too. Asphalt absorbs a lot of heat, which doesn’t take long to become painful for your dog’s paws. If you are going for a bike ride in the summer, be sure to do it early in the morning or late in the evening, or your dog will face serious health risks.
Cooling down and refreshments along the way
It’s a familiar feeling: When exercising, you grow thirsty, and you need to pause to take a drink. Make sure your dog can take breaks during the run and give it a chance to drink. You should always take water for yourself and your dog along with you when you go out together. Taking a dip in a lake or stream can also be a welcome way to cool off if your dog has already cooled down for a moment beforehand.
Summary: bicycling with your dog
Bicycling with your dog can be a wonderful shared activity with your furry friend and be a lot of fun for both of you! Make sure to strike a healthy balance and keep fun front and center as you pursue this activity.
I hope you have a great time bicycling with your dog!