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The Joys of Being a Bike-Dog Owner

Posted by Joseph Watson on
A dog named Watson sits on his owner's back while she rides a bike on a city street

I thought being a car-free bike-commuter meant the idea of getting a dog was a fantasy. How would I get a dog to a vet or my sister’s house for weekly dinners? What if it’s raining or snowing? 

When the concept of a dog backpack was introduced to me, I felt my whole vision of the future shift. Suddenly there was a pup by my side! Last year, I adopted Watson, a 17 lb mutt, and a bundle of pure joy. Within a month, we’d purchased our K9 Sport Sack and that’s when the questions started: “How do you ride with a dog? Is that safe?!?”

While I can’t account for everything that could possibly go wrong, I can be as safe as possible when I ride with my dog. Here’s a quick guide for how to ride safely with your dog:

Do a Quick ABC Bike Check

Watson the dog laying on his K9 Sport Sack carrier. Ready to be zipped up and buckled in for a bike ride.

Is there air in your tires? Are your brakes working? Is your chain running smoothly? This is something you should always do before riding your bike regardless, but it may be even more important to avoid getting stranded with your dog and prevent potential crashes. While you’re at it, do a quick once over on your K9 Sport Sack safety features. The potential for injury is drastically increased on a bicycle compared to walking with a dog on your back.

Don't Take Unnecessary Risks

When you have a dog with you, your balance is slightly shifted. You may have been confident before and had no issues navigating through a bit of gravel or patch of ice, but that could change while carrying your pup. With a dog on your back, it's important to try and avoid these and go a little slower on the downhills.

Follow Local Traffic Laws

Remember, stopping at that red light is another opportunity for strangers to tell you how cool your dog is! Take advantage of becoming a celebrity temporarily and be responsible by following the law.

Careful Taking Pictures and Videos

Let’s be honest, a dog in a backpack is a snap-worthy moment, but please be aware of your surroundings. Watch out for unpredictable pedestrians and impatient drivers. Consider keeping most of your photography off-street. I am obsessed with how much Watson’s ears catch the wind while we ride, but I can’t let them distract me from the environment I’m riding through.

Bring Supplies

It sounds contrary, but keeping their heads up is actually a lot of work for dogs. When we go out for a longer ride, I have to remind myself that Watson would probably have just napped for the last two hours at home. No wonder he’s tired and sometimes very hungry after a ride. Just like you have water and snacks for yourself, make sure to keep treats and water around for the pup.

Check the Weather

Watson chills in his owners K9 sport sack backpack carrier

On any extreme weather day, it’s best to limit riding with the dog. Sometimes a downpour can’t be avoided, but if it’s over 90 degrees it might be best to keep the pup at home. (I can’t wait to test the K9 Sport Snuggler this coming winter to keep Watson cozy through the Boston winter).

Don't Forget their Leash

I have a little checklist that I do when I go for bike rides with Watson:

  • keys
  • wallet
  • phone
  • leash

Final Piece of Advice

Riding with a dog is fun, so enjoy it! Riding my bike with my dog is the best experience. Even after riding for a year together, I still can’t get over how much I love the look of the wind in his ears and how much joy he brings to the world around him as we go by!

About the Author: Laura Jillian Gray is an avid bike rider, advocate, and instructor. She sees the bike as a resource to get us to a more sustainable world. She's also a huge dog lover. Her passions were finally able to collide this past year with the K9 Sport Sack when she could bring her dog out on the bike with her. Follow their adventures at Randonnista.com and @WatsontheBikeDog.

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