Hamburg/Düsseldorf (dpa/tmn) – If you want to go on a bike tour with your four-legged friend, there are a few things to keep in mind: Is the animal suitable for an endurance race next to the spokes? Or is it better to move it? In any case, the dog must adapt with patience so that the bike ride becomes a carefree pleasure for everyone.
As an active companion, the tracker must be physically fit. Sarah Ross, pet expert with animal welfare organization Four Paws, says running next to a bike is only for healthy adult dogs. If in doubt, you can have your fitness and health checked by a veterinarian.
As a general rule, Ross recommends a minimum age of one and a half years, because puppies that have an immature musculoskeletal system can develop health problems, such as unfit dogs that are overweight or aging.
Breed also plays a role: while family dogs such as beagles or Labradors, as well as herding dogs and hunting dogs, are quite durable, dogs of short-headed breeds such as French or English bulldogs should not walk next to a bike for too long. According to Ross, they are not suitable for cycling due to their physical fitness.
Test drive in a calm atmosphere
“First of all, you should familiarize your dog with the bike while it’s still,” Ross recommends. If your four-legged friend sniffed the bike, reward him with praise and a treat. To introduce the dog to the new way of moving together, you first have to push the bike. If he willingly follows Bello, masters or mistresses can saddle up. “It’s a good idea to train in an area with limited traffic or in a parking lot,” Ross says.
Alexander Gibbler of the Bicycle Press Service (Pd-f), who often goes on bike rides with his Bandi hybrid, recommends “accurate, short test rides in a calm setting” — for example on woodland and prairie trails. According to the Road Traffic Act (StVO), it is also allowed to walk a dog on a bicycle on the street. It should only then be restricted.
A brochure from the Federal Department of Transportation says, “Make sure you carry the leash with you as loosely as possible—that is, don’t tie it to your wrist or the leashes. This will prevent accidents if the animal starts running suddenly.” For added safety, Gibbler recommends walking the dog on bike lanes and on the right of the bike if possible.
When a dog becomes too much
“You should also attach the leash to the harness, not the collar,” pet expert Ross adds. There are also special bike stands for dogs in specialty stores. According to the Pet Supplies Industry Association (IVH), two common solutions are: spacers that keep the animal at a distance from the bike and shock absorbers that are supposed to compensate for sudden movements by Bello or Co. With both, the owner can keep his hands on the handlebars while riding, promising more control over what happens.
On the way, you should always note if your dog is experiencing physical exhaustion. The pace is best determined by the four-legged friend. According to the physique and breed of dogs, ten kilometers can be achieved at once, says Alexander Gibbler. But if your dog is shivering severely or slowing down, it’s probably too much for him. At this point at the latest, a break is needed, which expert Ross advises on longer bike rides anyway: “Not just so the dog can catch his breath, but also so he can smell and go about his business.”
Even if your dog isn’t designed to run longer distances, a bike ride doesn’t need to be cancelled. “Small dogs ride in special bike baskets, and larger dogs can be taken in small trailers as passengers,” Sarah Ross says. Here, too, the following applies: the animal must be introduced to the transport step by step and acclimatized to it with attention, praise and treatment. This increases the chances of success in a harmonious tour.
Trailer Tunnel Exercise
If your dog knows his bike basket like his own, he’ll still be seated during the ride, says dog trainer and specialist book author Anton Wechtelmeier. There are also baskets that can be closed with a net on the market. The basket on the leash is ideal for keeping an eye on the dog while driving. However, since excess weight can have a negative effect on handling, the animal should weigh no more than about five kilograms.
If the dog or bitch weighs more and is not suitable for sports, they can ride in the back – either in the basket of the carrier or in the trailer. According to Pd-f, there are dog trailers of various sizes for dogs weighing up to 45 kg on the market. Pd-f indicates increased demand. E-drivers in particular have bought a dog trailer if they want to ride longer distances that a dog can’t complete.
The dog must carefully get used to the trailer – because, according to Pd-f, it can have a very frightening effect on the animal. To build confidence, you can try a classic form of puppy school: the tunnel exercise. To do this, you lure the animal into the trailer with a reward and then through it you are rewarded.
Take a step back when you feel stressed
Moving the feeding place to the trailer at home, hiding your favorite toy there, or placing the usual dog blanket will also help avoid potential stress. Then the first training runs with the dog and the trailer should be done as carefully as getting used to the bike: first push the trailer with the dog on board before you hook it up and start riding the bike.
Ideally, the dog would jump into the trailer itself, otherwise you lure him as in a tunnel exercise, wait for him to lie down and then close the access hatch, according to Pd-f. Anton Fichtlmeier adds: “If you want to make sure the Bello doesn’t jump while you’re driving, you can use the tarpaulin that came with the trailer.” Experts do not necessarily advise putting the dog on a leash in the trailer, it depends, among other things, on the character of the animal.
Getting used to riding a cargo bike is very similar, says Sarah Ross: building confidence, complimenting the climb, pushing first, then riding. “If your dog shows anxiety or stressful behavior during a step, be patient and go back to the previous step first,” advises the pet expert.
It’s not, of course, that every dog runs well on a bike or rides in a trailer or cargo bike. “Some dogs just don’t like it, and as an owner, you have to accept that,” Ross says. But with patience and attention, nothing should stand in the way of a shared human-animal bike tour in most cases.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220505-99-172689 / 2