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Motorbiking With Dogs Guide
For those dedicated motorcyclists out there-there is nothing quite like seeing the landscape rush past you as you roam down the road. The power, the adrenaline, the wind against the helmet visor and the sensation of freedom that pulsates through your body along with the vibrations of the engine – it all comes together to form an unforgettable experience every time you get on that motorcycle.
Many motorcyclists are also dog owners, and it is only natural to want to include your furry best friend in the adventurous outings that have become part of not only your life but also of your persona.
Is it possible to safely turn your dog into a biker puppy, and to combine your motorcycle passion with your passion for dogs? This is an introduction to what it means to motorbike with your dog, and how you can make the experience rewarding for everyone involved.
Why Take a Dog on a Motorcycle?
There are so many reasons why you might want to take your four-legged pal on a motorcycle ride, and everyone has their own motivations. Some might have the motorcycle as their only mean of reliable transportation, and then – obviously – the furry family members need to be ready to hop up and go.
Another reason could be for leisure; to include the dog on something you and possibly other family members are passionate about, and to give the dog some stimulation different from what they are used to. Despite common beliefs – many dogs love going on motorcycle adventures with their human moms or dads.
Backpacks and Dog Carriers
Small dogs can ride in specialized canine backpacks or carriers that you put on your back, which is one of the most secure and comfortable ways for your dog to ride a motorcycle with you. Don’t use a handheld carrier as these could easily be dropped (by accident, but accidents happen), and instead, always opt for a carrier you can carry securely on your back.
If using a regular backpack – your dog will need to have its head out for air, as these are not usually designed to carry pets. A customized pet bag is a better option for those with restless dogs, as you can keep it closed throughout the ride with your pup safely inside.
Using a Dog Seat
Some bikers choose to customize their own dog seat for larger dogs, or they opt for purchasing a dog seat from a manufacturer. These may not be the safest options as it is basically a seat for your pup, but it could be your best (or possibly only) option for a bigger four-legged pal! If this is something you think you might want to do – have a look at different options online to see if one could work for your dog.
Tail- and Tank Bags
If the dog you plan to bring with you on your motorcycle adventures is small (such as a Yorkie, a Chihuahua or perhaps a Jack Russell Terrier) then you might be able to use a regular tailor tank bag!
Just make sure you leave the top open as no dog wants to be locked into a tank bag without air and let your pooch ride securely back there while feeling the wind in its face! You can also buy specialized dog tank bags with air vents and more, but a regular one or the one you already have is likely to work just as well!
Using a Sidecar
A sidecar could be the ideal solution for a large dog, as it might be a bit complicated for big fur friends to fit on the motorcycle, but also to keep their balance (and especially for longer rides) and avoid falling off. If your Saint Bernard is jumping up and down with excitement, begging you to bring him for a ride, then perhaps a sidecar is what you should be considering for everybody’s comfort and safety.
Very few (if any) dogs will be okay with being put on a motorcycle to drive off with you into the sunset without preparation, and it will usually require some practice and training before you can even start your motorcycle with the dog sitting on it.
You are probably excited and ready to get going right away, but if you want your pooch to be your biker pal – you are going to need to be patient and ready to invest the time it takes to get Fido ready for the road.
Start by getting your dog on the motorcycle without turning it on; use treats to convince them to stay and sit there with them just like you would if the motorcycle was in motion. It is a good idea to prep your two-wheeled vehicle with whatever you plan to use for your dog to sit in (a carrier, dog seat, etc. etc.) so that they can get used to the bike the way it will look and feel once it is time for your first ride.
Think of how you would crate train a dog – would you shove them inside the crate and close the door right away? No, as this might traumatize them, and the same applies to teach your dog to ride a motorcycle. Take a few days to let your pup sit on it for a couple of minutes and use plenty of praise and treats to reward good behavior.
Once you feel your dog is comfortable on your motorbike (keep in mind that not all dogs are made to go on a motorcycle and not all dogs can learn to like it) – you are ready to start it up. Use common sense and turn the motorcycle off if the dog shows signs of anxiety, fear or panic, but otherwise proceed to drive forward at a slow pace.
Related: Dog Anxiety Vests.
You should go as slowly as you can in the beginning, without – of course – compromising your safety, and try to drive forward no more than a couple of motorcycle lengths the first couple of times. Distance and pace can then be increased with time, provided both you and your dog are ready for it.
If you are planning to go further than just around the block, you will also need to plan for what to bring – both for yourself and for your dog. As a motorcycle enthusiast, you are probably more than aware what you need to bring along for yourself for a trip on the bike, but what do motorcycle dogs need when they tag along for an outing?
+ Pet waste bags. Being out and about is not an excuse not to pick up after your fur friend, so don’t forget to bring enough waste bags for your trip. There are excellent eco-friendly options to purchase if you are concerned about using too much plastic but remember that you should always bring your bags with you until you can find a trashcan or somewhere to throw them away.
+ Fresh drinking water. Fill up a couple of water bottles for yourself and your dog, because everyone gets thirsty after a long drive – and especially if it’s sunny! Offer your pup water frequently and whenever you make a stop, to make sure they stay hydrated and refreshed.
+ Dog food. If the trip is planned to extend past your dog’s dinner time, then you should bring enough food to offer the missed meals on the road. You don’t want to have to buy emergency dog food at a grocery store somewhere, as an abrupt change in food could upset your pup’s tummy, so prepare and pack the portions before you head out on your adventure.
+ Containers for food and water. Alright, so you have the water and you have your dog’s food, but where are you planning to put it? It might be a little impractical to bring large stainless-steel bowls on a motorcycle, so consider investing in a travel water bottle – a bottle with an attached piece from where your dog can drink – and a foldable travel food bowl.
+ Harness and leash. Don’t forget these two key items, as you need to walk your fur pup along the route. You will need to take breaks for longer trips, and you might want to walk your dog in areas where there are other people or animals, so bring a leash and a harness even if your dog is used to walking off-leash.
+ Favorite toy. So, after a few miles on the motorcycle – don’t you think your dog deserves some time to relax, play and have fun? Making motorcycling fun also for dogs is part of the experience, so why not stop when you see a large field or open area to play a game of fetch? You can also bring a chew toy for downtime if you stop to eat for example, as it is important to keep your dog motivated for when it is time to get back on the motorcycle.
+ First-Aid Kit for Pets. We all hope for a safe- and incident-free experience, but this does not mean you shouldn’t prepare for the unexpected. A first-aid kit can come in handy when you least expect it! Perhaps your pup steps on a shard of glass during a break, and if so – you might be able to help them right there on the spot.
+ A cozy blanket. A warm blanket is great for whenever you stop, to give your dog something to lie and rest on after they’ve been walked and played with, but it is also an important accessory to help keep your fur friend warm during the ride. It can get chilly on a motorcycle, so be prepared with something soft and warm for your doggy to sit on.
Importance of Taking Breaks
As hinted at in the previous section, no dog can be expected to ride for hours at a time on a motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle is tiring also for humans, so imagine being a dog that can’t say anything if they need to stretch their legs or empty their bladder.
It is your responsibility to provide them with well-needed breaks at appropriate times, and you know best when this is needed for your dog. Newbie motorcycle dogs may need to take more frequent breaks than those who are used to riding with the wind, so take the dog’s experience level into consideration.
When you do take a break, take the opportunity to exercise your dog and to let them have some fun and let loose. If you can, go for a walk and leave the motorcycle behind (sniffing new trees is always fun), and let your dog do its business and get that tension and stiffness out. If you feel you can’t leave your motorcycle – play fetch! Let your pup do all the running while you sit still an relax.
Is Biking Right for my Dog?
This is something not everyone stops to consider – is your dog really cut out for going on motorcycle rides? Most dogs can learn to enjoy the wind, the noise and the thrill of seeing the landscape swoosh by, but not all dogs.
Some pups may experience anxiety or fear, no matter how slowly you advance and how many times you try, and others might struggle with hard-to-cure motion sickness. You can’t have a puking pup with you on your bike – it won’t be fun for either of you – and while medication might help, there are no guarantees.
Size is also an important issue. Both small dogs and large dogs can learn to be biker pups, but if your dog is a Great Dane or a Saint Bernard – you will have to face the fact that it might not physically fit on the motorcycle, and the dog could end up struggling with the balance due to their large body. This said, a very big dog could do just fine on the back of a motorcycle, but this will depend on the dog, on you and on the motorcycle you drive.
It could take time for a dog to get used to the idea of being on a motorcycle, but if you are not seeing any improvement or any enthusiasm on the dog’s part – perhaps it’s just not for them? You don’t want your furry friend to be uncomfortable or to hate the experience, so be honest with yourself whether you truly think your pooch is meant to be a biker dog.
Consider the Associated Risks
Having realistic expectations is one thing, but you also need to remember everything that could go wrong when you are on a motorcycle. The best motorcyclists are aware of the risks they are taking, which is what makes them cautious and great- and safe drivers.
The same thing should be done for taking a dog on a motorcycle, as being aware of the risks will help you be the driver your dog needs you to be. It is not just a question of how you drive, but there is also the aspect of other potentially less responsible drivers on the road.
Know the risks, be careful, listen to yourself and your dog and remember to take breaks when either of you seems to need it. Avoid exposing your dog to direct sunlight on very hot and humid days, and always bring two large bottles of water – one for you and one for your furry friend.
Small dogs are easier to take on motorcycles due to their practical size, but any dog can learn to ride safely with you if you are willing to put in the time and effort. Just because they can do not always mean they should, though, so make responsible decisions with your dog’s best in mind. Not all dogs are able to appreciate a motorcycle ride, and some might be better off left at home.
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