Biking with your dog can be an enjoyable activity for both parties, but this isn’t always feasible – some dogs lack the discipline to run alongside your bike, while others lack the physical ability to do so. However, bike trailers can allow you to tow your pup around when it wouldn’t otherwise possible!
We’ll explain a little about bike trailers for dogs below and detail the five best models currently on the market.
There are a number of reasons it may make more sense to chauffer Fido around on your next bike ride, rather than having him run alongside you. A few examples include:
Your pup lacks the discipline to run alongside your bike. Many dogs are healthy and energetic enough to run alongside you for considerable distances, but they are too easily distracted to do so without yanking you off course every 30 seconds. By giving your pup a lift, he still gets to see the world go by and you get to enjoy a nice ride. However, if you hope to one day have your buddy run alongside your bike, consider looking into bikejoring and how to train your dog to get used to running beside a bicycle.
Your typical rides last longer than your dog’s energy level. If you like to take really long trips on your two-wheeler, you’ll probably outlast your dog’s stamina. By towing a bike trailer, your dog can run alongside you until he tires, at which point he can jump in the trailer and catch a ride the rest of the way.
Your dog isn’t really into exercise, but loves to tag along. Many dogs – particularly short-nosed breeds like pugs and bulldogs – love to get out and about, but they lack the physical traits to run very far or for very long. Trailers make it easy to get your dog some outdoor time and fresh air, without taxing his little body too much.
Your older or sick pup needs a chance to get outdoors. If your dog is recovering from an injury or suffering from illness, a bike trailer gives you the chance to get him outside for a while, without forcing him to expend much energy himself. This is also a good approach with senior dogs, who can’t keep up with your bike anymore.
There is a world of difference between really good bike trailers and those that will leave you stranded on the side of the road, in a bind with a busted trailer. Be sure to consider the following characteristics and features when making your decision.
It’s also important to purchase a trailer that suits the specific needs of you and your dog: You’ll need a much more robust trailer to cart your 60-pound boxer for 10-mile ride than you would to take your 5-pound Pomeranian around the block.
Your trailer won’t do you any good if your dog can’t fit inside comfortably, so be sure to measure your dog’s length and compare it to the interior dimensions of any trailer you are considering. You should also check out the weight limit, particularly if your dog weighs more than about 30 or 40 pounds.
Different trailers connect to your bike in different ways, so you’ll want to be sure that you select a model that will be easy to hook up. Additionally, look for models that feature a secondary strap or attachment point, to prevent the trailer from rolling away if the primary hitch fails.
All bike trailers are somewhat unwieldy, but well-engineered models provide much better handling and maneuverability than economy models do. A well-designed dog bike trailer not only make it easier and more fun to use the trailer, it will keep you and your pup safer while doing so. You never know when you’ll have to avoid a pot hole, car or other obstacle.
Well-made dog bike trailers are not only safer for you and your pup, they last longer and hold up to more abuse than cheaply made trailers do. Look for things like robust, air-filled wheels, a strong frame and high-quality connectors and fasteners, when trying to decide on the best bike trailer for your needs.
Even if you take your dog out for a spin every day, your trailer will spend more time in your garage than anywhere else. Unless you’re just swimming in spare space, it’s important to consider the amount of storage space you have available. While some trailers must be stored “as-is,” others can be partially collapsed to save space.
Your dog won’t care what color the trailer is or how snazzy it looks, but you will probably enjoy your selection more if you pick one that is aesthetically pleasing and looks cool on the road. There are no right or wrong answers here, just pick one that appeals to you!
Different bike trailers have different points of entry; some require that you load your pup in from the top, but it is generally preferable to select a model that allows your dog to enter from the front or side. This is particularly true if you have a large dog. The best trailers feature multiple doors to give you some extra flexibility.
Many bike trailers can also be used for other purposes, which increases their relative value. For example, some trailers can be disconnected from your bike and converted into a stroller or cart, that can be used to wheel your dog around when your bike isn’t appropriate or allowed. You can also use these types of trailers to carry other items as well.
Some of the nicer bike trailers for dogs include internal dividers. These allow you to bring two small dogs along for the ride, while keeping them safely separated. Dividers can also allow your dog to ride in one side, while the other side can be used to store various items.
From time to time, you’ll need to unhitch the trailer for a while. To help make this easier, good bike trailers include a kickstand of sorts, to support the front part of the trailer while disconnected from your bike. This not only provides more comfort to your pup, it will result in less wear and tear on the hitch.
Some bike trailers feature exterior pockets, which are helpful for carrying keys, cell phones, water bottles or treats. If exterior pockets are important to you, be sure to select only those that can be zipped or shut securely in some way, to keep your belongings from bouncing out while you are riding along.
Towing your dog behind you in a trailer entails some safety risks, so it is important to follow basic bicycle safety practices and select a trailer that has all of the protective features possible. Look for trailers that provide the following features:
In addition to purchasing a trailer that includes all of the important safety features, you’ll need to use the trailer in a safe manner to ensure you and your pooch return home in one piece.
Follow the steps below to help reduce the chances of accidents and injuries.
Allow More Distance for Stopping. Bike trailers aren’t that heavy, but when combined with the weight of your dog, they’ll increase the overall mass you are piloting down the bike path. This means that it will take you much longer to stop than it normally does, so stay on your toys. Be careful that you don’t try to stop too suddenly either, as this can cause you to lose control.
Slow Down When Turning. While a trailer gives you a wide base, you can still tip over if you try to corner like your riding in the Tour de France, sending you, your bike and your pup skidding across the pavement (ouch). Slow it down, speedy, and corner like your grand pa would while driving a minivan.
Start Slow and Short. Remember that you’ll be working a lot harder than normal when towing a loaded trailer behind you. You don’t want to find yourself exhausted on the side of the road, while your miles from home. Make your first few trips shorter than normal, before trying to travel for extended distances.
Stick to Smooth Surfaces. Even if you ride a mountain bike designed to handle the roughest terrain with ease, your bike trailer is designed to be used on smooth, flat surfaces. Stick to roads, sidewalks and bike paths (always follow your local laws and regulations).
Buckle Up Your Pup. You should always be sure that your dog is securely attached to the trailer. This will not only help keep him as safe as possible in the event of an accident, it can help keep your pup’s weight in the middle of the trailer, making it easier for you to keep your balance.
Wear a Helmet. (In my best dad voice): Wear a helmet, dummy. You may even want to wear knee or elbow pads too. Don’t worry about looking silly, safety is far more important than style. In fact, you may even want to purchase a helmet for your canine companion as well.
Once you receive your new bike trailer, you’ll need to introduce it to your dog. While many dogs take to trailer-riding with little effort, others will be nervous about the idea of riding inside. Accordingly, you’ll need to start slow and introduce your dog to the trailer gradually.
Begin by putting the trailer together in a quiet room, and then let your dog come in, give the trailer a sniff or two and check it out. You don’t even need to attach the trailer to your bike to do this. Don’t rush things and let your dog approach the trailer on his own. Give your buddy lots of praise and treats as he checks out the trailer.
If this first step goes well, you can open up the trailer and encourage your dog to enter it.
Again, don’t force him to do so – if he needs a little extra encouragement, toss a high value treat or one of his favorite toys inside to provide some additional incentive. Be calm and reassuring, and praise him once he jumps inside. Try to make the entire procedure a fun, positive experience.
Once your dog is comfortable sitting inside (which may take several different sessions to accomplish), strap him in and close up the trailer. If he appears to be taking things in stride, you can begin pulling the trailer around by hand. Keep things slow and gentle and help him learn that he is safe in the trailer and that there is nothing scary about the experience.
Once your dog is comfortable with being pulled around in the trailer, you can begin hooking it up to your bike and going for a short ride (perhaps up and down your driveway). Once you’re satisfied that he is comfortable with the experience, you can head out for a proper bike ride.
Keep in mind that some dogs need more time than others to get adjusted to new and strange objects. Some dogs take days, others take closer to a week or two to get comfortable with foreign items like doggie treadmills or nail clippers.
Forcing your dog into situations they’re anxious about will make things 10x more difficult – you might end up needing to post the trailer on Craigslist within the month if you aren’t patient with your pup! Take your time and let your dog get acclimated at his own rate – he’ll get there eventually!
The following five bike trailers are among the best on the market. Any would make a fine choice, but you will be best served by carefully considering which trailer suits your individual needs.
About: The Aosom Elite Pet Trailer is a steel-framed, collapsible bike trailer that provides a comfortable ride for both you and your pet.
The outer shell is made from polyester and features several large mesh panels that provide your dog with plenty of fresh air and a great view.
About: The Solvit HoundAbout Pet Trailer is a metal-framed trailer that features a 600d polyester shell and a waterproof, flexible floorboard to keep your pup contained, dry and comfortable. The trailer’s collapsible design allows you to store it easily when you aren’t out racking up the miles. Price: $$$ Features: About: The Best Choice Products 2-in-1 Bike Trailer is a dual-purpose trailer that can be converted into a pet stroller, if you’d rather push your dog instead of peddling. The Best Choice Trailer features a lightweight steel frame and water-resistant polyester shell to keep your pet safe and protected from the elements. Price: $$ Features: About: The DoggyRide Mini Bike Trailer is a high-quality, moderately priced trailer that can also be used as a stroller with the optional stroller kit. Made from a powdered steel frame and a nylon shell, the DoggyRide Mini Trailer is very durable, despite being slightly small when compared to some other models. Price: $$$ Features: About: The Burley Tail Wagon is a premium trailer, designed for owners who want the best and are willing to pay for it. While approximately twice the price of the second most expensive model in our review, it is extremely well built and comes with so many great features that it is well worth the additional cost. Price: $$$$$ Features: *** Do you use a bike trailer to get your dog out and about? What challenges have you experienced that we didn’t cover? What types of features have you found especially helpful? Let us know all about your experiences in the comments below.
2. Solvit HoundAbout Pet Bicycle Trailer
3. Best Choice Products 2-in-1 Dog Bike Trailer
4. DoggyRide Mini Dog Bike Trailer
5. Burley Tail Wagon
About: The Solvit HoundAbout Pet Trailer is a metal-framed trailer that features a 600d polyester shell and a waterproof, flexible floorboard to keep your pup contained, dry and comfortable.
The trailer’s collapsible design allows you to store it easily when you aren’t out racking up the miles.
About: The Best Choice Products 2-in-1 Bike Trailer is a dual-purpose trailer that can be converted into a pet stroller, if you’d rather push your dog instead of peddling.
The Best Choice Trailer features a lightweight steel frame and water-resistant polyester shell to keep your pet safe and protected from the elements.
About: The DoggyRide Mini Bike Trailer is a high-quality, moderately priced trailer that can also be used as a stroller with the optional stroller kit.
Made from a powdered steel frame and a nylon shell, the DoggyRide Mini Trailer is very durable, despite being slightly small when compared to some other models.
About: The Burley Tail Wagon is a premium trailer, designed for owners who want the best and are willing to pay for it. While approximately twice the price of the second most expensive model in our review, it is extremely well built and comes with so many great features that it is well worth the additional cost.
Do you use a bike trailer to get your dog out and about? What challenges have you experienced that we didn’t cover? What types of features have you found especially helpful?
Let us know all about your experiences in the comments below.
Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.