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Cycling with your dogs: do’s and don’ts

Cycling with your dog: the dos and don’ts

Read time: 5.5 minutes

Tips to ensure you cycle safely alongside your dog

My passion for cycling with my dogs first started when I lived in London with my pack of six. Trying to get all the dogs in the car and off to a park in rush hour traffic was never easy. Even walking down the busy streets with my dogs in tow was a challenge. I soon noticed parents cycling to school with their children, and thought what a great idea that would be with the dogs. 

I started researching different methods and soon came across the Babboe cargo bikes for dogs, which looked perfect for what I needed. But there are plenty of other options too, for dogs of all ages, sizes and energy levels. 

Have you ever thought about cycling with your dog? Not sure where to start? If so, these are the steps you’ll need to take in order to prepare for a bike ride with your dog.

When to introduce your dog to bike rides

Rigorous exercise like running alongside a bike can damage your dog’s growth plates, leading to future mobility problems. This especially applies to puppies, overweight dogs and older dogs who may have stiff joints. Depending on your chosen method of cycling with your dogs, you should discuss bike rides with your vet. 

When you feel ready to include your dog in your cycling routes, you can carefully introduce cycling as part of their routine. Cycling with your dog is a fantastic way to strengthen your bond. You should, however, appreciate that even though cycling can build up a lot of excitement for your dog, it can also be a scary experience for them if not done safely.

How to start

Getting used to something new can be a little scary for dogs. For me, it was a process of familiarising my dogs, in order to associate a positive experience with the bike. 

Initially, you can start by introducing your dog to the bike whilst it’s stationary. For small dogs especially, the bike may seem a little intimidating, so let them have a good chance to explore it. All dogs will naturally be inquisitive of any new object. Pay attention to your dog’s reaction to your bike and give lots of positive encouragement, especially if your dog shows any signs of apprehension.

Pedalling the bike around my garden allowing my dogs to watch and listen to the sounds a bike makes was crucial to building their confidence. I would then advise you to gradually start walking with your dog alongside your bike. Make sure you take this step with your dog safely; avoiding any heavy traffic or overwhelming distractions.

Running alongside

Having your dog simply run alongside you as you cycle is a great way to get them enjoying this new form of exercise. This is especially suitable for larger, more agile breeds, and is a lot more fun in short distances. I often let my golden retriever, Mabel, out of the cargo bike carrier before we race each other up the path to my house.

It’s lovely watching your dog soak up the sights, smells and sounds around them! It can also get quite competitive as they keep pace with your pedalling. I would advise to only let your dog run alongside you off their lead if they are 100% reliable with their recall and only in quiet, secluded locations. Otherwise, you might choose to use a dog bike tow leash

A bike leash reacts to your dog’s movements, like an extra arm mounted on your bike. It is a point of contact between your dog and the bike, to gently communicate direction and speed changes. If your dog pulls on the bike attachment, the tow leash keeps them on course. 

Make sure your dog is comfortable and familiar with the routes you intend to take, staying clear of busy roads.I recommend wide open spaces – you wouldn’t want your dog’s leash to wrap around a lamppost – or worse, another cyclist!

Cargo bikes for dogs

A dog cargo bike is custom-built to carry multiple dogs. It’s available in push-bike or e-bike form and is great for long distances. 

The Babboe bike is perfect for my pack of six, and it comes with a ramp and a door. The ramp allows older dogs, like my thirteen year old spaniel, Ella, to join in the fun.

The box has safety points to attach your dogs to, as well as an anti-slip mat, so wet or muddy paws won’t skid. The bike has a rain cover for wet weather, which has led to many amusing instances at traffic lights. I can peep inside to see my dogs cosy and dry, sometimes even having a nap, whilst I am soaked to the bone.

Even though I now live in the countryside, I still get plenty of use out of my cargo bike and the dogs truly love it. The song that goes through my head whilst I’m pedalling away is “A Whole New World”, from Aladdin. It feels like the dogs are on their own magic carpet ride. The dog bike has never failed to put a smile on someone’s face, which is such a great feeling.

Doggy cycling backpacks and carriers

The cargo bike may not be the best solution for you, especially if you don’t have spacious bike storage. However, there are plenty of other safe and fun ways to cycle with your dog. 

For smaller or less active dogs, many dog owners prefer securing their dog in a cycling backpack, basket or carrier. These are attached to yourself or the bike, and can be more reassuring for beginners, as you have a closer eye on your dog. There are dog-specific models for each of these options, designed specifically for the safety and care of dogs.

When using a front-facing dog bike basket or bike trailer, always make sure your dog is secured safely and comfortably. It’s best to use a harness rather than a collar, as this provides extra stability around their shoulders and chest, to prevent neck injuries. Most good quality carriers will include a carabiner clip to attach to your dog’s harness.

When using a doggy cycling backpack, it is advised to familiarise your dog with the backpack in the same way you did when they first “met” your bike. This is to ensure they are confident and comfortable in the backpack. Carrying your dog in the backpack whilst at home, or even just out for a small walk will help them get accustomed to it. 

The best dog backpack I can recommend is the K9 Sports Sack, which a number of my friends use. These are reliable, sturdy and come in different sizes.

Don’t forget!

  • Bring supplies such as treats, water and a first aid kit.
  • Consider accessories such as a bike light and hi-vis dog harness for cycling at night. 
  • It’s important to check the weight limit for bags or baskets, especially if you have a growing puppy.
  • It’s best to avoid a bike ride in extreme weather. The ground may be too hot for your dog’s paw pads, and a carrier can become stressful for some dogs in intense rain or heat!

Enjoy the ride

Cycling with my dogs is one of my favourite hobbies – and they enjoy it just as much as I do! Not only is it an environmentally friendly mode of transport, but it’s also an excellent way to bond through exercise.

Seeing the wind in their fur and their noses sniffing the air is such a joy and it’s the best way to travel in my opinion. If you follow these guidelines and tips, you’re definitely in for the best bike ride you can have with your dog.

Hi, I’m James, founder of Ella & Co.

I’m on a mission to make my dogs lives as happy and as healthy as they make mine. At Ella & Co this means feeding them the best possible diet.

Join me and my pack today!

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How to prepare for a holiday with your dog

How to prepare for a holiday with your dog

Read time: 4.5 minutes

A guide for ensuring a safe and fun holiday with your dog

I love travelling with my dogs and making new memories with them in exciting places. More dog owners are thinking about dog friendly holiday destinations as a wonderful way to bond with their pets. You no longer need to leave your dog behind! Travelling with them is a great way to enjoy a change of scenery with your four-legged friend.

There is a lot to consider when going away with your dog. You need to ensure you have everything you need for your dog; wherever you are, whatever the weather! Here are my top tips on how to leave the pet sitters behind and prepare for a holiday with your dog.

Where to stay

There’s an array of places you can stay with your dog, such as campsites, campervans, hotels or self-catering holiday cottages. Consider your dog’s preferences when looking at accommodation. How would they deal with new noises and the change of location? Would they prefer a quiet cottage, or a campsite full of new smells and friends?

Whenever you’re booking dog friendly accommodation, it’s important to understand if they simply allow dogs, or if they enthusiastically welcome them. If you’re worried about how your dog will be received, I would advise you to check any reviews from other dog parents.

Planning ahead

Being prepared and researching before you go will give you more time to enjoy your holiday!

It’s important to check for local veterinary clinics within the areas you’re travelling to. Don’t forget to save vet contact details in your phone, in case of emergencies.

I always check to see how far we are from the closest dog friendly beach or park. This is especially important if your accommodation doesn’t have an enclosed garden space. Most beaches have particular times or seasons when they allow dogs to enjoy the beach with you. It’s good to check this, to avoid disappointment.

Train your dog on calming techniques before you head off. Being able to sit, stay and settle are good to brush up on.

It’s worth checking guidelines when travelling overseas, such as additional vaccinations and pet passports.

What should I take on holiday with my dog?

Ensure you prepare the correct quantities of food and dog treats needed for your dog during their stay. Imagine turning up for your staycation and not bringing enough food with you! Bring enough supplies so you don’t have to change diets halfway through your holiday.

Different types of dog food such as dry, homecooked, frozen and freeze-dried raw food will have varied storage requirements, so consider the facilities at your accommodation. Feeding freeze-dried raw food has made it incredibly easy to bring with us on holiday, since it doesn’t require refrigeration or prepping.

Beyond food, there are a number of dog holiday essentials that you should consider.

  • I always take a first aid kit for my dogs when going on holiday. My first aid kit includes a tick extraction tool, gauze, tweezers and alcohol wipes, among other useful tools.
  • I would advise bringing a crate with you, especially if your dog is used to sleeping in their crate at home.
  • Having spare towels or blankets are great things to pack too, especially if your dog loves to swim!
  • Bringing enrichment toys, treats or chews can help to keep your dog occupied and ease stress in a new environment.
  • Other essentials like plenty of poo bags, a water bottle and food bowls.

Remember to check the weather in advance. Your dog may need a coat for the rain, warm layers for cold weather, or cooling packs for any high temperatures.

On the road

Travelling either by car, train or otherwise, could be a new experience for your dog altogether. It is imperative that your dog is safely secured if travelling by car. This should be via a car seat, safety harness or a crate secured in your boot (provided it has air ventilation).

Some dogs suffer from motion sickness or general anxiety when travelling. If your dog experiences travel sickness, visit the vet beforehand for advice. Your vet might suggest anti-nausea medications or herbal remedies.

Signs of anxiety exhibited by your dog during travel may include: excessive panting, yawning, or drooling; drooling is also a sign of nausea. There are a few steps I take to help reduce my dogs’ anxieties during travelling.

  • Let your dog eat and digest their breakfast a couple of hours before travelling. This can help reduce pet travel sickness. I would also suggest limiting their food consumption while on the road.
  • If it’s a lengthy journey, make a few stops where possible to allow your dog to have a toilet break, stretch and a drink. Check the journey in advance so you can figure out the best services to stop. Some have dog specific areas or larger grass areas, perfect for a quick run around.
  • Crack a window open to allow fresh air in. It’s also handy to elevate your dog, enabling them to see out of the window. This may help if they’re feeling nauseous

Something I also do with my dogs is play soothing music. Believe it or not, music can have a comforting effect on dogs as well as humans

Comforting your dog

A change of scenery can be overwhelming for your dog, and it’s normal for your dog to feel unsettled. This is more common during the evening, since they are used to going to bed in familiar surroundings.

I help my dogs by bringing along their favourite toys, bed, and blanket. The homely scents reassure them and make them feel comfortable. In case of separation anxiety, position your dog’s crate or bed close to your bedroom so they can hear you.

I find that my dogs are better able to sleep in a new environment when they’ve had a long, mentally stimulating day. A tired dog is quicker to settle! Try to help rid your dog of any excess energy through physical and mental stimulation. Puzzle toys, snuffle mats and other interactive toys can help with this.

Typically, dogs adapt well when they’re with their familiar humans and they’ll love the chance to explore new places with you.

Enjoying your pet friendly holiday

The key is to make your holiday enjoyable for both you and your dog. Always consider potential situations where your dog may require urgent medical attention, even if you think this is unlikely to happen. By following these tips, you’ll be sure to have a safe and wonderful trip with your dog by your side!

Hi, I’m James, founder of Ella & Co.

I’m on a mission to make my dogs lives as happy and as healthy as they make mine. At Ella & Co this means feeding them the best possible diet.

Join me and my pack today!

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