German Shepherds are natural herders. In fact, the reason why this breed was first discovered was…
Biking with your dog could be a good activity for you both to bond and get exercise at the same time. This is especially advantageous if you have a high-energy dog breed like a German Shepherd. However, cycling with a dog isn’t for everybody.
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Who should consider biking with their German Shepherd?
If you like to cycle, you can consider biking with your German Shepherd. But, you first need to be confident in your biking skills.
Keeping a dog tethered to your bike will add another layer of difficulty to the activity. So, if you aren’t an experienced rider you should take some time to practice before adding your dog to the equation.
Another essential thing for you to consider is your dog’s ability to follow commands. Also, does your German Shepherd get easily distracted and try to run off?
Proper dog biking gear can only do so much to keep you both safe. A lot will ride on your dog’s discipline and your relationship with one another.
Benefits of Biking With Your Dog
Working, herding and sporting dogs have tons of energy that you need to expend to keep them from being bored and destructive. If you have a dog that you can’t seem to tire out on walks completely, biking could be an excellent way to balance out your exercise requirements.
If you are looking for other ways to exercise with your dog check out our article 21 ways to exercise your German Shepherd for great ideas!
Biking can also serve as a shared activity for you both to enjoy outside. You can also travel and visit different biking spots or trails together. No matter where you bike, it will be a great bonding activity.
Equipment Needed to Bike With Your German Shepherd
Before you even attempt biking with your German Shepherd, make sure you have the items listed below. These will not only make it safer but also easier for you to start:
1) Your Safety Gear
With or without your dog, never bike without a helmet. Using specialty cycling clothes and shoes is a matter of preference, but helmets, however, shouldn’t be optional.
Recommended item: Schwinn Thrasher Lightweight Microshell Bicycle Helmet
This bike helmet by Schwinn is incredibly popular because it’s reasonably priced and it’s incredibly comfortable. It’s lightweight at approximately 356 grams, and it has 21 airflow vents to keep your head cool and adequately ventilated.
Its 3-piece micro-shell construction is made to offer maximum protection without the added weight. Plus, it comes in twelve different colors for you to choose from.
2) Dog Bike Leash
A dog bike leash allows you to tow your dog along, hands-free.
It is usually a metal rod that attaches to your bike and is equipped with a springy or shock-absorbing tether, which connects to your dog’s harness. This is important because a regular leash would jerk your dog along, which isn’t safe.
Recommended item: Walky Dog Plus Hands-Free Dog Bicycle Exerciser
The bike leash by Walky Dog Plus gives you all the basics you need for hands-free cycling with your dog. It uses a durable paracord along with an internal shock-absorption system for a smooth biking session every time.
Plus, it features a patented bike release, which allows you to easily detach the rod from your bike and hold on to it so you can walk your dog.
If you have a bike leash that easily detaches, you might not need to keep a regular leash on. However, it’s a good idea to use a regular leash as well when starting out to give your dog subtle cues while biking.
A gentle tug to turn or stop will go a long way in terms of how you communicate with your dog, so it’s a good idea to keep a regular leash on while you’re still training.
Recommended item: Mycicy Rope Dog Leash
The rope dog leash by Mycicy is a reasonably-priced leash made of heavy-duty braided nylon.
It is 6 feet long and is 1/2-inch thick.
It features a soft padded handle and reflective strips that run along the length of the leash to guarantee your visibility when you’re out with your dog at night. Plus, it comes in 8 different colors.
It’s never a good idea to bike with your pup while using a dog collar. Doing so could cause neck, head, or throat injuries.
Instead, use a harness, which would distribute any tugging or pressure across your dog’s chest. That minimizes the risk of any injury.
Recommended item: Rabbitgoo Dog Harness
The no-pull dog harness by Rabitgoo is perfect for biking because it has a D-ring secured at the back. It has soft cushioning to keep your dog comfortable and is made of breathable mesh for proper ventilation.
This harness comes in a variety of sizes, and each size can fit your dog perfectly using the adjustable straps. It comes in five different colors, and it also has a front clip that you can use on walks if your pup is a puller.
When you’re having tons of fun on your bike, it’s easy to lose track of your speed, distance, and time. Attaching a speedometer to your bike can help you make sure that you don’t work your dog to the point of over-exhaustion.
Recommended item: SY Bicycle Speedometer
The bicycle speedometer by SY is a good choice because it is waterproof and works wirelessly. It works as both a speedometer and an odometer, so you can track how fast you’re going as well as how far you’ve traveled. Additionally, it shows exactly how long you’ve been riding for.
Both you and your dog should have access to plenty of water when biking to keep from getting dehydrated. Make sure you have a bottle of water as well as a bowl from which your dog can drink.
Recommended item: PupFlask Portable Water Bottle
The travel water bottle for dogs by PupFlask is perfect because you won’t need to carry around a separate dog bowl. All you have to do is fill up the bottle with fresh water and then fold the container.
This water bottle is easy to bring with you while biking, thanks to its convenient carabiner. When it’s time for a drink, simply unfold the container, which doubles as a dog bowl. Fold it back in when your pup has had their fill.
4 Steps to Learning How to Bike With Your German Shepherd Safely
Step 1: Get your dog used to a parked bike.
If your dog hasn’t interacted with a bike, get them used to being around a bike first.
Give them treats and praises while they’re near your bike so that they can associate positive experiences with it. Once they seem comfortable enough with the presence of a bike, you’re ready to move on.
Don’t secure your dog to the dog bike leash yet. Give their regular leash some slack and hold on to it.
Step 2: Get your dog used to a moving bike.
Stay beside the bike and start walking it. You’ll need to take some time on this step in order to teach your dog safe behavior.
Make sure they learn early on that they can’t stay too close and they can’t go in front of the bike either. Use treats, commands, and gentle cues on your leash to guide them towards the right behavior.
Step 3: Start using the dog bike leash.
When you’re confident enough to get on the bike, secure your dog using the dog bike leash. Then, move around slowly. This gives you time to correct behavior when you need to.
Try doing as many left turns as you can because that’s the direction that can cause the most harm to your pup if they’re not appropriately trained.
Step 4: Practice
As with everything else, mastering this takes tons of practice. Take as much time as you can to practice in a controlled or low-traffic environment.
As you become more confident in your biking and your dog’s behavior, you can move on to other, more exciting places. Once mastered you should be able to bike safely with your dog anywhere you want to.
Safety Tips for Biking with Your Dog
1) Always wear your helmet.
Even if you are just practicing, keep your helmet on and strapped properly. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than half of bicycle deaths are due to accidents where the riders had no helmet on. It’s just not worth the risk.
2) Secure your dog bike leash.
Always check that your dog bike leash is properly secured to your bike. If it’s loose or incorrectly installed, it can easily detach while you’re on a ride and can potentially cause a serious accident.
3) Bike in a controlled environment.
When you’re new to biking with your German Shepherd, try to choose places where there isn’t a lot of automobile or pedestrian traffic.
As you get more comfortable with the activity, you can try other places but always bike on the correct side of the road and, and try to go out when the streets aren’t too busy.
4) Set rules for time and distance.
As you begin to bike with your dog, carefully observe when they’re getting tired and make sure you never allow them to overexert themselves.
Once you know your dog’s limits, use your speedometer to track your time and distance, and know when it’s time to stop. Remember that, while you’re on a bike, your dog will be walking or running. They could be tired even when you’re not.
5) Keep your pup’s paws safe.
Never bike at peak sun hours, especially in the summer. The pavement absorbs heat and could irritate or even burn your dog’s paws. Bike early in the morning or in the evening.
Similarly, road salts used to control ice in the winter can cause paw pads to burn. When biking with your dog in the winter, select areas that don’t use road salts. You can consider getting your pup to wear dog boots.
6) Stop for water.
Your pup is not likely to ask you for a break. Accordingly, you need to be aware of how much time you’ve spent biking and know when to stop for some water.
Whether you have a German Shepherd or any other active, fun-loving breed, biking with your dog could be an incredibly fun activity.
You can tire your dog out and even visit other places you wouldn’t otherwise consider without a bike.
Make sure you only attempt this when you’re already confident in your bike skills and your dog’s obedience. Also, you should only bike with your dog using proper gear.
Once you have all that covered, enjoy these precious times with your best pal!