Biking with dogs either for fun or for the endurance trial

Come and learn about to get started, be safe, have fun and become explorers!

Step 1 Yep, you’re going to need a bike and it’s going to need to match the activity you’re going to do, for instance, you don’t want to buy a road bike when you’re going off road.

Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are littered with the remains of fitness dreams and good intentions, so you’ll be able to pick up a good deal there!

99 Bikes is where I get all my biking stuff from, their customer service is brilliant, they really take the time to make sure you're choosing the right bike, they also have a perfect ride guarantee so if you don't love it in 30 days, then you can swap it! (not a sponsored mention)

Getting the right sized bike is super important, I first started with a small size as I was in-between sizes and then changed to a medium which was way more comfortable for me. Before you buy a bike online, do some research into bike sizes and which one is best for you.

Photo credit: It’s been a long time between drinks for me since my last bike purchase and my most recent one and what I learned is that you can’t just raise the handle bars like you used to be able to, so it’s so important that you get the right sized bike to start with otherwise you end up having to pay for accessories that might not even raise the bars to your comfortable level like I did. I have a S-curved spine so I need to be more upright which requires higher handlebar height - something I didn’t consider until I had already spent the money. Read more about the symptoms of a bad fitting bike here. See some great photos of good fits here.

In addition, if a bike is too small for you, your legs are going to be largely flexed and you’re going to be expelling more energy than you need to - I also learned the hard way on this one.

If you haven’t been on a bike in many years, take your time! Spend time getting your balance and putting your foot down i.e. learning to fall and catch yourself for “just in case”. Consider just riding at the local park or nature strip until you have your confidence - if you haven’t been on a bike in a long time that may indicate you’re a bit older and more prone to breaking vs bouncing. If all else fails, grab yourself some adult training wheels.

If you plan on riding with a dog, you have some ground work to do first otherwise you’re going to have an oopsie! It's important dogs do not start running with a bike until they are at least 18 months old as their growth plates may not have closed yet and this could be detrimental to their final developmental outcomes.

Start with your dogs equipment, consider, do you need a head halti to begin with to have more control over your dog to keep you safe? If so, you’re going to need to introduce your dog to one in advance. We love Australian company K9Bridle as it doesn't ride up into a dogs eyes and it clips behind the neck vs under the chin making it safer.

Ginger started on a K9 Bridle and then moved to a flat collar. Ginger has been trained to pull on a harness so that wasn’t a viable option for us. Little Man in the photo runs on a Ruffwear harness. If you choose a harness then the type of harness you use must not restrict the shoulders and never use a no-pull harness. Using the wrong harness will interfere with your dogs natural gait and lead to abnormal gait and then likely injury.

How is your dog on a lead as it is?

  • Do they know basic commands?

  • Will they try and get to other dogs?

Lack of lead manners is dangerous on bike for you and your dog and of course the people around you.

Start by walking the dog next to the bike.

I hold the lead which is a requirement for the endurance trial which we train for but there is a bike attachment called a Springer. If you’re holding the lead then I recommend you never allow your dog to move in-front of the front tyre, as this could be really dangerous when you’re biking out and about.

Get your dog used to being next to the bike - this takes as long as it takes. I then start to introduce cues such as left, right and slow. When I say left, I turn the bike front tyre towards the dog and go in a circle. We don’t go for proper rides until they know and respect the bikes movement. “Slow” is when I break, I teach this by saying slow and then slowing down into a stop. Slow is important for when you’re coming up to roads or you need to navigate around something. A nice “leave it” could save you from dangerous situations too.

A dog has to learn they’re not allowed to stop and toilet or sniff or anything else when you’re on the bike because that is dangerous so toilet your dog before you go. Having pit stops along the way is also a nice idea. Set this rule in stone from the get go to keep you and your dog safe.

You are going to come across other dogs when you’re biking, know what you’re going to do in advance. When Ginger was just a novice. I would pull over to the side and put her into a sit or a drop to allow other dogs to pass. Ginger is very into other dogs and is curious so she had to learn to ignore, plenty of treats for a good girl here were provided.

Also know that other dogs will be triggered by your bike and even the dog so be aware of your environment and watch other dogs body language and that of the handler too. If you see someone struggling with their dog, call out to them to ask them what they want you to do.

Pull over and provide as much room as possible, your bike should be between your dog and the other dog, you can also angle your wheel towards your dog to create a barrier to be clear to them about what you don't want.

Be careful to never ever surprise a dog and handler by just whizzing past them, that’s an asshole move. Ring your bell and call out - lots of people wear earphones and may not hear you but their dog should alert their human to your presence. Same goes for just a person by themselves, whizzing past will often scare a person that didn’t know you were there, pass by at a safe and appropriate speed.

If you ever come across horses being ridden when you're biking, stop, get off your bike and move well away. Horses are flight animals and if they get spooked, they and their rider could get seriously injured. You can always ask the rider what they want you t