Dog bike trailers are fascinating and adorable yet fully functional piece of canine riding technology that you get to attach or mount on your bicycle in pretty much the same way as you can attach a trailer to your truck. These pieces of canine accessories can provide a handful of benefits to today’s pooches especially those that may be too ill to walk but will still require the full benefits of being in the great outdoors with other dogs and its human masters. Like choosing a trailer for your truck or SUV, picking the right dog bike trailer entails a bit of understanding the basics. In this post we will be providing you a comprehensive roadmap to how you can select the best canine bike attachment that money can buy. However, let us first get to know the 10 best dog bike trailers in the market.
Dog Bike Trailer Buying Guide
Buying a dog bike trailer is like picking the right trailer for your truck or SUV. It really doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you know what you’re looking for. In this part of our article, we are going to explore more about these canine contraptions and what things need to be considered before buying one. Equally important are the safety guidelines that we need to observe every time we take our dogs to ride on these non-motorized vehicles. So, let us begin.
What is a Dog Bike Trailer?
A dog bike trailer is essentially similar to the trailer that you connect to your truck or SUV whenever you feel like transporting your boat, your jet ski, or even your camper. The point is that it is a non-motorized vehicle that resembles a cart but built with a canopy to protect the cargo – in this case a canine passenger – inside. Technically, it is like a mini wagon, a coach that you connect to a specific part in your bicycle so that when you start riding your bike, the trailer moves along with you.
A pet bike trailer is defined more as a transporter for dogs, turning them into passengers on the said coach or wagon. The pulling vehicle, in this case, is the bicycle with your legs providing the power of movement.
But why would you want your dog to become a passenger inside this contraption? Can it not just run along with you while you are pedaling your way through the bicycle lanes?
It is true that dogs can run great distances. However, if you happen to time your biking endeavors in the summer, letting your dog run under the sun can have disastrous consequences for it. Remember that they don’t have a really efficient body cooling system unlike us who can perspire a lot to cool down our bodies. As such, it is important to let them ride on a bike trailer so they can keep you company. They can also run alongside you but once they get tired, you can easily put them in the trailer and continue with your biking.
There is another reason why you may want a bike attachment of this sort. Most of these products typically weigh about 30 pounds. And we haven’t factored the weight of your pooch yet. Let us say you’ve got a canine that weighs 40 pounds. That means you have an additional 70 pounds of resistance behind your bicycle which you need to pull. This increases the work of your leg muscles especially at inclines. You are essentially adding resistance to your biking which can do a lot of good to your fitness goals. It’s true that the wheels of the trailer will somehow negate the resistance afforded by the weight of the trailer and your dog. However, there will still be some form of resistance that you will have to work against.
The same is true if you are going to use the trailer as a jogger. The weight of the device plus that of your dog will present formidable resistance to your arms so you’ll be pushing harder. This can also lead to stronger arm muscles, not to mention the muscles of the leg.
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Things to Consider When Buying a Dog Bike Trailer
Now that we have an idea about what a canine bicycle trailer is and why you would want to get one for your pooch, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge of the things to consider when buying such a canine contraption. Remember, not all bike trailers, like all things, are created equal.
The size of the canine camper is a very important consideration. You don’t want to get something that is too small and cramped that your pooch will not really feel comfortable inside. A good rule of thumb is to get a trailer with enough space to allow your pooch to sit and move around easily.
- Coupler or hitch
This will help define the quality of the ride. The quality of the coupler or hitch can affect stopping and cornering so you have to choose those with high quality hitches. This is especially true if you’re running at high speed. Low quality hitches are known to pull on the bike exposing you to accidents.
Unfortunately, you will never really be able to gauge this without taking the trailer for a test run with your pooch in it. If you can request for a trial run, then try to evaluate how the trailer handles in relation to the movement of your bicycle. If this is not possible, then you need to ask those who already own the same product that you would like to buy. Ask them how the trailer handles especially on uneven terrain.
- Portability and ease of assembly
It is one thing to have a product that is already preassembled; it’s another matter to get something that requires some assembly. Many products today offer portability in their design, allowing you to fold the device without the need for any hand tools. This is a great option since you will no longer have to worry about bringing plenty of tools to assemble the contraption. However, while it is easy to assemble, make sure that the joints or connectors are made of high quality materials so they don’t undermine the structural integrity of the dog bike trailer.
A non-slip liner or flooring is a very important consideration when buying a dog bike trailer. As a rule, the flooring should stay in its place regardless of how bumpy the road can be. While you can always apply a blanket on the floor, this has the tendency to curl up and pose some problems for your pooch.
- Other features
Many of today’s bicycle trailers come with a variety of useful features such as safety flags, brake systems, and even suspension systems for ensuring a much smoother ride. You may have to study carefully these features and try to imagine the benefit it will give to your pooch.
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Safety Tips when Using a Canine Bike Trailer
Biking is fun and this is made even more fun with your dog in tow. However, it can also be wrought with many risks especially if you’re biking on an unfamiliar territory, an uneven terrain, or even in busy city streets. You simply don’t want your biking activities to end on a sad note. As such, we’re here to share with your some safety tips when using a canine bike trailer.
- Always train your pooch on how to enjoy a ride with the trailer.
Safety starts with a well-trained pooch. You need a canine friend that can sit still inside the trailer while you’re in motion. You also need a dog that will not feel claustrophobic inside and begin tearing the trailer apart. That is why, even before you start on your bike trailing journey, you need to spend ample time training your dog to love its trailer. This also means it needs to learn how to get in and out of the bike attachment with a simple command from you.
- Know your bicycle course.
Rocky and uneven terrain increases the risk of the trailer tipping over. Slippery roads and bumpy surfaces can also increase the risk of accidents. Make sure you have a clear mental picture of where you will be biking so you can accurately map out in your mind where you will be pedaling. This also means you have to be extra vigilant in identifying obstacles on the road.
- Get an appropriate trailer.
Even with the best intentions for safeguarding your dog, if you cannot get your hand on a sturdy and reliable dog bike trailer, then you’re essentially inviting disaster. Take the time to really look into the various features of a safe bike trailer.
- Remember the laws of physics.
It pays to keep in mind that you are towing a heavy object and that this will significantly impact your momentum and balance. If you’re going downhill, you can expect the momentum to be exceptionally great which means it will be much more difficult to control when you want to stop. Stopping will also take considerable time. On an uphill climb, the weight of the object will be pulling you backwards and this can throw off your momentum and your balance.
- Use safety features on your bike trailer.
Always use built-in safety features in your bike trailer. There are those with reflective trims as well as high visibility flags to announce your presence even from afar. Brakes are important, too, and so are LED lights.
- Don’t push the weight limit of the trailer.
If the manufacturer says that it can hold up to a maximum of X pounds, then don’t go beyond this weight limit. The stability and reliability of the vehicle are tested based on this weight limit. While it is theoretically possible to go beyond what is called for, don’t tempt it as accidents generally occur in unchartered waters.
A dog bike trailer allows us to bring our pooches with us whenever we go out for a ride on our bicycles. These are important contraptions for transporting dogs. In choosing the best dog bike trailer, it is important to look at its size, handling, hitch, flooring, and portability. Equally important is knowing how to safely use it so that accidents can be avoided. And with our 10 best dog bike trailers, we’re hopeful you can start selecting the most appropriate one for your canine friend.
Training Your Dog to Ride in a Bike Trailer
Dog bike trailers may be an excellent way to get your dog to join you in your biking. But if your pet simply hasn’t been properly trained to ride this mobile contraption you’re actually courting danger as your pet can jump out of the moving carriage anytime. It may come with a leash, but this will only make it worse. The trailer doors may be secure, but this will only agitate your dog even more. As such, even before you start biking with your chosen trailer it is important to train your dog.
The best way to start is by assembling the dog trailer right in the presence of your dog. Let it sniff through all the different components as you put everything together. Don’t put the wheels yet. Once assembled, open the door flaps and just leave it there. Some dogs will get the idea that they can enter through the door. If not, just let your dog be. The important thing is for your pet to become acclimatized to the presence of the dog trailer.
Try tossing your pet’s favorite dog toys inside the cabin and see if it will go inside. If it does, then praise it and give it its treats. You can also place some treats at the foot of the trailer door and then a few more inside just at the door. Don’t carry your pet into the cabin. It should go in on its own. So be patient. Just be ready with positive reinforcement once it gets inside. Do this several times until your dog is already accustomed to staying inside the trailer.
Next, install the wheels of the trailer and hitch it to your bike. Call your dog to get inside. At first, it may hesitate since the door is now higher than what it was accustomed to. You can still use dog toys or treats to entice your pet to get inside. Make sure to practice this step many times until your pet is totally comfortable with it.
The next stage is to acclimatize your pet to being secured inside the cabin. Let your dog go inside and secure its leash. Open the windows and close the access door. Give it a few seconds in this situation. Gradually increase the length of time your pet is secured in its leash inside the trailer. Once it’s comfy, then you can go for a really short ride. Keep it slow the first time and avoid bumps and potholes. The thing is to make the ride as pleasant as possible. Dog toys or treats should keep it busy while you’re biking.
If your pet is more than confident riding the trailer you can gradually increase the distances of your ride. This should help prepare your pet.
Q: How can I attach the dog trailer to my bike?
A: Dog trailers come with the same fundamental mechanism of attaching a trailer or second unit to your vehicle. Dog trailers come equipped with tow bars or arms. You’ll need to install the universal hitch right onto your bike’s axle.
If your bike comes with a quick-release axle you’ll have to remove the skewer and insert this through the hitch opening. Push the skewer into the bike axle and secure it well. Push the latch securely. Don’t worry about the positioning of the hitch as it will naturally correct itself.
If your bicycle comes with bolted axes you need to remove the axle bolt. Put the dog trailer bike hitch onto it and secure the bolt. If your bike has an internal gear right within the wheel hub, then you need a hitch adapter.
Q: How much weight can a dog bike trailer handle?
A: It all depends on the recommended maximum load capacity of the dog trailer manufacturer. The idea is the sturdier the construction, the greater the maximum load capacity. It is always safe to check the owner’s manual of the bike trailer to know its weight limits. Plastic frames should always be avoided unless your passenger weighs less than 20 pounds. You should always go for steel frames especially if you have hounds weighing 50 pounds or more.
Q: How do I clean a dog bike trailer?
A: Cleaning a dog bike trailer is not really difficult. Most manufacturers come with removable canopies or panels which you can easily throw in the washing machine. Most fabric materials can be easily machine-washed unless otherwise specified. It’s the joints and the moving metal parts that you have to clean such as the hub, rim, and spokes of the wheels. These can be easily wiped clean with a rag.
Q: How can I keep my dog calm inside the trailer?
A: Not all dogs like the idea of riding inside a trailer that can get especially bumpy over uneven terrain. While you can always train your pet to ‘behave’ while it is inside the trailer, there will always be instances when they’ll be very anxious. As such, it is always a good idea to include dog toys as well as treats inside the bike trailer cabin to keep your pet pre-occupied. Dog treats and dog toys should never be considered replacements for good ‘ol training, of course.
- 10 Tips for Cycle Touring with a Dog, Burley
- How to Choose a Dog Carrier or Dog Trailer for Your Bike, IceBike
- How to Train Your Dog to Ride in a Bike Trailer, WagWalking