If masters and mistresses want to cycle longer than their dog can walk, a special trailer for dogs is required, depending on the breed. However, there are a few things to consider when purchasing and using it.
Not every dog shares its owner’s enthusiasm for long bike tours. In particular, more sluggish and easy-going breeds such as bulldogs or Bernese Mountain Dogs usually find little to gain from running fast next to the bike. And if you allow yourself to be motivated, you often run out of breath after just a few kilometers. Other four-legged friends find it difficult to cope with city traffic.
Out of consideration for their health, senior dogs, youngsters, and sickly four-legged friends should not go on bike tours, or only do very short bike tours. Even long-distance pros like Dalmatians or huskies reach their limits on a multi-hour ride depending on their training condition, weather, route, and surface. While Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and other small dogs can comfortably rest in their basket once they have gotten used to them, owners of large dogs have to leave their four-legged friends at home on longer bikes tours – or invest in a special trailer for dogs.
Numerous bicycle trailers for dogs are now available in specialist shops, which cost between 100 and 1000 francs, depending on size and equipment. They are built in a very similar way to child trailers: the trailer is connected to the bicycle with a drawbar and additionally secured with a safety line. The floor pan should be made of steel or sturdy plastic, and a bumper provides additional protection in the event of an accident. The structure usually consists of a stable but light aluminum frame that absorbs shocks.
Some models can be converted into buggies or jogging wagons. Such additional functions are optional, but solid workmanship, reflectors, and lighting options are essential. It is practical for getting in and out if the trailer can be opened from the front and rear. Insect nets and removable, transparent rain covers ensure that the passenger can enjoy the view, well protected from wind and weather, annoying bloodsuckers, and falling rocks.
Test Drive for Dog and Owner
When choosing the trailer, the right size is of course also important: the dog should sit and lie comfortably and be able to be fixed. Most trailers weigh around 10 to 15 kilograms, some models can be loaded with up to 80 kilograms. But before you plan a day trip with a Newfoundland dog and a picnic basket, you should try out somewhere with a trailer to see whether your own muscle strength and physical condition are sufficient for such a heavy appendage. Not only cyclists’ legs, but also some bicycles are simply overwhelmed with heavily loaded trailers. This is especially true in hilly and unpaved terrain, where good gear shifting and solid disc brakes are required.
“Dry runs” prevent the first big trip from ending in a fiasco. Master and mistress make the first driving attempts better without a dog, as the trailer changes the steering and braking behavior. And so that the four-legged friend can enjoy his new carriage to the fullest, you should familiarize him with the vehicle with a lot of calm, patience, and positive reinforcement. First of all, extensive sniffing is on the program, then “test sitting” follows, first with the doors open and then closed. Dogs that are already used to closed transport boxes rarely have any problems with it, but it can take a few days to weeks for more anxious animals to get used to it. If the dog stays calm even when the trailer is moving and if he calmly completes the first test rides in the garden or in another quiet place, you can plan the first bike ride.