As you can tell by our name, at The eBike Store, we’re passionate about electric bicycles. What you might not know is we’re also passionate about our dogs! There’s nothing better than hitting the trail with your furry friend at your side, ready for adventure. You may think that an eBike’s motor would make it difficult to ride with your dog without leaving them behind, but that’s not the case. Because an eBike is designed to achieve similar speeds to normal pedaling, you can absolutely go on a ride with your canine companion. However, you should keep in mind that this is an activity intended for energetic dogs that love to run, so it might not be the right activity for a diminutive Dachshund or a cute Corgi. With that in mind, we thought we’d pass along some advice for how you can safely ride an eBike with your dog. If you’re curious about eBikes, take a look at our selection and call us at The eBike Store to learn more!
-Before You Start
It’s important you learn if your dog is ready for this type of exercise, especially if strenuous activity has not been a part of their normal routine up to this point. For that reason, it is recommended you take your dog to their vet to have a physical exam conducted. If you’re looking to take this opportunity to get in better shape, you should get an exam as well, to ensure you approach this new activity in a way that is safe for both of you.
If you have a very young puppy, you’ll need to consult the vet regarding when their growth plates are expected to close. If you begin a structured exercise program too soon, it can injure your dog, which impedes their development and can lead to long-term health issues. While some medium and large dog breeds are built to handle running for long distances, most small breeds can only run for short distances, at a much-reduced speed. Just like with any exercise, it’s recommended to start off slow and gradually increase duration, distance, and speed over time. That will also help you gauge your dog’s ability and comfort level with the activity.
-Equipment for the Rider
Naturally, if you’re just getting started with biking as a hobby, you’ll need a bike. Electric bicycles are fantastic for first timers, as the motor can help you go further when you get tired so you can rebuild some of your energy to keep going. Which type of eBike is right for you will depend on where you plan to ride it. Give our experts a call to discuss your options and see which one fits your needs. They’ll also be able to advise you on the proper size for your height and weight, as well as making any adjustments that may be needed.
Other than the bike, the most important piece of equipment you will need is a helmet. Now, you may be saying, “I can’t wear a helmet. It’ll mess with my hair.” If you end up crashing without a helmet on, you’re pretty likely to get a severe head injury. So you have to ask yourself, what are you more willing to mess up? Your hair, which can easily be fixed with some water and gel? Or your brain, which could be irreversible? If you’re out riding with your dog, think about what would happen to them as you lie unconscious after a crash. Wearing a helmet will protect both you and your dog from danger, so this is an absolute requirement, even if your local laws don’t require a helmet. Just don’t risk it!
Some other helpful equipment to bring along when you and your furry friend go for a ride include: bright colored clothing, a water bottle or two (you’ll both get thirsty), spare tube, tire pump and repair kit, identification, money, and a cell phone, and bags to pick up waste. Unless your bike seat is already cushy, you may appreciate extra cushioning from a pair of padded bike shorts. In lieu of that, you can either replace the bike seat with more padding or add a gel-filled seat cover.
While many beginning bike riders commonly use running shoes or light hiking boots, their flexibility can cause foot problems over time. Cycling shoes are recommended, as they are rigid and allow for minimal flexion, which provides enough stability and arch support to prevent foot injuries over the course of many rides.
-Equipment for the Dog
Now that we’ve got your equipment out of the way, it’s time to focus on your four-legged riding partner. Even if you aren’t planning on riding late at night, you should still make sure your dog has a colorful reflective dog collar with updated ID tags. For additional visibility, a reflective vest can help your dog stand out in low-light conditions. However, the bulk of ensuring your dog’s safety comes down to the leash.
We’re sure you’ve seen it at least once. Someone riding a bike down the road with their dog’s leash in their hand, while they’re holding onto the handlebars. Or maybe they tied the leash to the seat post on the bike. Either way, these are not recommended due to the dangers they present to both you and your dog.
If you hold a dog’s leash in your hand while you’re riding, your dog can suddenly pull you off balance, causing a crash. You may also collide with your dog if they run in front of your front tire. If they start to lag behind, you can be pulled backward, which could make you fall and could result in an injury. The leash can also become tangled up with the wheel spokes, which can cause serious injury to both you and your dog.
While tying the leash to your seat post, which is the center of gravity when you ride, may make pulling less of an issue, it is still not as safe as some riders may believe. This is especially a danger if you have a large breed dog. If you’re riding with a 100-pound dog, they could get distracted by a squirrel and lunge after them, bringing you down to the ground in the process. You also still run the risk of your dog getting tangled up with your bike when you do this.
So what is your best course of action? There are many different devices on the market that provide a safe way to ride with your dog. These attachments allow you to keep both hands firmly on your handlebars while keeping your dog at a safe distance from your bike. Springer, WalkyDog, and BikerDog are all fantastic options to keep everyone safe on your ride.
Each of these attachments is designed to connect to your bike in a different position, and typically can be used on either your left or right side. It’s recommended you attach the device to the side your dog typically runs on, though this will depend on if you are on a trail or riding on a road. Moving vehicles, including bikes, are required by law to travel with traffic on the right side of the road (making the left side much more dangerous for your dog to be on.) Which one is the right one for you will depend on your bike, your dog, and their tendencies when walking and running. All of these attachments connect with a cord or leash to your dog’s collar or harness. To ensure a greater level of safety, it is recommended you us a harness, as this will put less stress on your dog’s neck. While the BikerDog comes with a harness, the WalkyDog and Springer do not. Regardless, it is best to use a harness that fits your dog well with all of these devices.
Many riders who use these attachments are thankful for the added level of safety they provide. Additionally, they have remarked how their dog stays more focused on running alongside the bike and pull on the leash less than they did when they were just being walked on a leash. When you can guarantee your pooch’s safety, you can focus on the adventure at hand and all of the fun you’re having. Nobody likes a stressful bike ride, so these attachments are definitely your best option if you want to ride with your dog.
Now that we’ve gotten the necessary equipment for you and your dog out of the way, next week we’ll be diving into training, how to start riding, recommended places to ride with your dog, and some other helpful information to get you ready for adventure. When you have the right equipment, you can keep your dog and yourself safe out on your ride. When you have the right eBike, you can go further and see incredible sights you hadn’t imagined before. To get started with an electric bike, whether it’s your first or your fifth, call us at The eBike Store. Our eBike experts will be able to advise you of which model is best for your experience level. We hope to hear from you soon.