With a range of products available for taking dogs cycling, we talked to four owners about the kit they use to make everyday journeys with their dogs. In this blog, we’ll discover the pros and cons of some of the most popular options for taking dogs cycling, so more of us can make greener, safer and more active journeys with our four-legged friends.
Travelling by cargo bike is just one of the ways in which dog owners are transporting pets without the use of a motor vehicle. Photo: Peter Wight
More than half of all UK households own at least one pet, making them much-loved family members to many of us.
Dogs are the most common household pet in the UK, with an estimated 13 million of them having a place in our homes and hearts.
So it’s no wonder that when dogs live with us, they need to move with us too.
Although most dogs need one or two walks a day for their physical and mental health, they often also need to make journeys which are beyond the bounds of their daily routine.
Journeys which enable them to:
- Visit friends and family
- Exercise in open spaces
- Join holiday and leisure activities
- Attend day care and kennels
- Take training classes
- Go to the vets (sorry fur-friends but this one had to make the list).
There are many reasons why dogs need to travel, and these trips don’t always need to be made by car or public transport.
Cycling with dogs is becoming increasingly easier, with many more products now available which enable them to be transported safely.
We chatted with four dog owners about how they make safe and active journeys with their four-legged-friends.
With the help of their dogs, Gwennie, Moss, Penny and Suki, we’ve listed the pros and cons of the different types of kit which these dogs are making greener journeys in.
Our furry contributors from left to right: Gwennie, Moss, Penny and Suki. Photo: Jenny Babey (Moss).
Trailers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes making them a popular choice for transporting dogs for utility, leisure and touring.
Their weight limits vary by model but you can expect upper limits to be between 20kg and 50kg.
Most models will hook on and off bikes with relative ease, making it easy to restore your bike to its original state within a few clicks.
Cycling with any trailer can take a while to adjust to, you’ll need to be aware of your increased overall length, width, drag, turning circle and weight.
Trailers are available in a wide range of price points, so do your research into the different designs and specifications, and consider if you'll require features such as:
- Off-road tyres and suspension
- Road safety features like a flag, reflectors and lights
- Sun, wind and rain protection
- Durable or light weight frame (For example, aluminium will be lighter to tow, but steel is stronger and better suits heavier loads).
It’s also important to think about your dog’s own unique personality.
Do they like to curl up in small spaces or stretch out in larger ones?
Do they love to hide under covers or feel the wind in their fur?
Take time to think about how they’ll experience a dog trailer and put yourself in their paws.
Suki, a 12kg Beagle, enjoys riding in a children's bike trailer which her owner Maria repurposed for her.
Maria cycles with Suki, a 12kg Beagle, in a repurposed children’s bike trailer.
“I love being able to take Suki on bike rides, it’s so much nicer not having to leave her behind.
“The trailer can carry quite a bit as it has pockets, plus Suki will happily sit amongst the shopping.
“Suki sometimes gets bored on longer journeys and chews the fabric of the interior, so I make sure I take lots of treats as a distraction.
“I also take regular stops for her to hop out, and when it’s safe to, she’ll happily trot alongside for short distances.
“The trailer I use is quite heavy, so I’m thinking about getting an e-bike to make towing easier.
“Passers-by love to see Suki in the trailer, it makes kids and adults smile. It also raises the profile of different forms of cycling.”
Pros of a dog trailer
Suitable for most sizes of dog, but especially larger, heavier or more than one
Can be easily attached and detached from a bike
Spacious interior (depending on dog size) can suit longer journeys and dogs who need to stretch out
May offer added storage
Some double up as strollers, perfect for young pups, senior dogs or those in ill-health.
Cons of a dog trailer
Large to store when not in use, though some models fold down
Requires own maintenance
- Requires own lock to leave unattended
Dogs who generally like to be ‘in front’ of their owners may feel anxious being behind.
Baskets offer a neat, semi-permanent option for transporting smaller dogs of around 12kg and under.
Once fitted, there’s no need to take a basket off your bike, reducing the time it takes to start a journey.
Baskets also conveniently double up as general storage.
Different models attach in different ways.
Some fit to the rear on an existing pannier rack, some to the front on handlebars, whilst others are sold with custom platforms which attach to the main frame of your bike.
In all cases your dog gets a full fresh air experience, not missing any sights, smells or sounds.
It can take time to adjust to cycling with your dog in a bike basket, as the added weight will affect the bike’s handling.
The more space your dog has to move around, or to sit to one side of the basket, the more you’ll feel an uneven and unpredictable weight distribution which will affect your balance.
Penny, a 10kg Sealyham Terrier, in her original basket (left) and in her new one (right). Penny enjoys the fresh air that comes from riding on the back of her owner Genna's bike.
Genna cycles with Penny, a 10kg Sealyham Terrier, in a rear-mounted basket.
“I recently upgraded Penny’s basket from a sideways shape to a lengthways one, which is harder for her to turn around in. (See image)
“The first basket I had was perhaps a bit too big for her, as her wiggling and shifting weight distribution made me feel quite unsafe whilst cycling.
“Balancing is now much easier and we’re both safer as a result.
“Penny really enjoys riding in the basket for the interaction she gets with the environment.
“And when she’s under the weather or in season, it’s a great way to give her some fresh air and enrichment.
“Penny is a Sealyham Terrier, they are notoriously lazy couch potatoes.
“The basket means I can get her to the best dog walking spots without using up her energy to get there.
“It enables her to get time off the lead at the beach, park, common and local nature reserve, which of course she absolutely loves.”
Pros of a basket
Always ready to use with no set-up
Lightweight and compact
A combination of front mounted and rear mounted baskets may suit a pair of dogs who need to be separated during travel
Front mounted baskets enable you to keep an eye on your dog at all times.
Cons of a basket
Only suitable for smaller dogs
Can affect balance
May not suit more senior dogs who need to stretch out and move for comfort.
Dog cargo bikes
Cargo bikes are the ultimate multi-utility cycle and are viewed by many as a lifestyle choice and an investment.
Not only are they suitable for transporting dogs, but also children, shopping, luggage, work equipment and much more.
It's not unusual for their boxes to have upper limits of 100kg, that's a sizable dog and their friends.
Research is essential for such an investment, as you’ll encounter various options when it comes to design, electric powering and internal fittings.
Test riding before you buy is highly recommended to ensure it will suit your needs.
Some models are designed specifically for transporting dogs and come with features such as harness and lead clips and rain covers.
A unique feature of some models is a drop-down entry ramp complete with non-slip mat, perfect for dogs who are unable to jump in and owners who are unable to lift them.
You don’t necessarily need to buy a dog specific cargo bike as many can be converted with the installation of durable loops to attach leads and harnesses to.
Like baskets, cargos offer dogs the opportunity to ride upfront and take in all the sights, smells and sounds of a ride, but be cautious to check how far they’re able to lean over the edges, as no pooch wants to lose their nose to a lamppost or passing lorry.
Moss, a 14kg Labradoodle, makes greener journeys in his owner Jenny's e-cargo bike. Photo: Peter Wight
Jenny cycles with Moss, a 14kg Labradoodle, in a cargo bike.
“I decided to get rid of my car but still needed a way to transport Moss to our local parks for a run-around.
“Originally I purchased a trailer as it was cheap and easy to use, but Moss is needy, and the mesh windows meant he couldn’t fully see out.
“He vocalised his distress when we cycled, and despite trying it a few times in the hope that he’d get used to it, he only got louder.
“I finally had an excuse to buy myself a Bakefits Short e-cargo bike and I love it.
“Moss is still to be completely convinced, but riding upfront he can see my face, get lots of treats, and enjoys poking his head out of the rain cover to feel the wind in his fur.
“It’s been a great talking point with other dog owners and even drivers who’ve been stopped next to us at traffic lights.”
Pros of a cargo bike
Suitable for many sizes of dog, especially larger, heavier or more than one
Flexible and spacious, enables dogs to ride with children and items such as shopping
Multi-utility, may become the first choice for many other types of trip
With a ramp, the best choice for dogs with limited mobility who can’t be lifted
Durable and long-lasting investment which retains value.
Cons of a cargo bike
Large to store
Heavy duty and expensive lock required to secure such a high value cycle
Can be heavy to pedal without electric assistance
Cannot replace some of the benefits of owning a conventional bike, such as light weight and easy to transport by other means.
Although these aren’t going to enable you to cycle with your dog, they might make more walking journeys possible.
And like trailers, you can expect upper weight limits to range between 20kg and 50kg, which will accommodate a wide range of dogs.
A stroller can really benefit a dog who is more senior, tires easily, has reduced mobility, or is a young pup.
When your dog’s energy is limited, a ride in a stroller could preserve it for maximum fun, stimulation and socialising once you've reached a dog walking spot.
Models and price points vary greatly, so consider if you’ll require features such as:
- Durable or light weight frame
- Additional storage
- Sun, wind and/or rain protection
- Folding design for storage
- The ability to convert to a bike trailer.
And like the other options listed in this blog, a stroller can double up as a handy wheeled device for transporting heavier items by foot.
Gwennie, an 8kg Smooth Fox Terrier, first started riding in a stroller whilst recovering from leg surgery, and continues to use it occasionally as she gets older.
Claire walks with Gwennie, an 8kg Smooth Fox Terrier, in a stroller.
“Gwennie broke her leg in 2019 and required surgery along with weeks of prescribed crate rest.
“I couldn’t imagine her being cooped up for so long, not enjoying fresh air.
“I decided to invest in a stroller which doubles up as a bike trailer, thinking this would give another travel option as she recovered.
“The stroller was a real blessing post-surgery but it’s since gone on to support Gwennie in older age too.
“Now Gwennie's nearly 14, the stroller comes out for long day trips, hot days and for any situation where she’d appreciate a private sanctuary.
“As she ages, I’ve noticed her feeling more physically vulnerable and fearing being stepped on in busy places.
“The stroller is perfect for settling her down in places like pubs and restaurants.
“Since walking with Gwennie in the stroller, I've noticed many more people doing the same with their dogs.
“It's great to see the less able pets in a family still getting out and about with the rest of their pack.”
It's important to recognise that walking a dog in a stroller should never be a replacement for the physical exercise a dog needs.
Instead, a stroller should be viewed as a mobility or wellbeing aid to make more journeys and experiences possible.
The choice is yours (and theirs)
Do some research and try before you buy if you can.
Consider testing, hiring or borrowing kit so that your dog can get a feel for the options you're considering.
The great thing about our four-legged friends is that they are brutally honest.
Most will let us know pretty quickly what they do and don't enjoy.
And as an owner, you'll have a good understanding of your dog's adaptability.
Together, you'll work it out.
However you decide to get active, we wish you glorious, greener journeys together.