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Bike safety with your dog

Helen: So, at this time of year it’s very popular for people to go out on their bikes with their dogs. How can they do that safely?

Jo: There are various things that you need to bear in mind if you’re considering riding your bike with your dog alongside. It’s not something I’d recommend because you can’t risk assess at the same speed when you’re riding your bike as you would if you were slowly walking somewhere.

So, things like, for example, a cat you wouldn’t see it necessarily until you were on top of the cat and then your dog could run after the cat and you end up on the floor. Things like broken glass, you might not see it until it’s too late and your dog has to run through the broken glass and hurt its paws.

Also, dogs overheat much more quickly than humans do and you won’t be able to tell necessarily from the angle you’re at, sat on a bike, whether your dog is actually overheating, whether it’s getting calluses on its paws or whether it’s experiencing any strains or sprains. So, riding a bike with a dog is not something that is ideal.

You can get the little trailers that go on the back of the bike, for example, that you maybe put small children into. You could use something like a K9 car harness and strap your dog into the car harness. But if you’ve got a bigger breed that’s going to prove quite tricky so we just avoid riding a bike with a dog at all.

Helen: Do you have any top tips on how to keep dogs safe around other people riding their bikes?

Jo: I guess it all comes back to that risk assessment and whether you’re in an area where there are likely to be people riding their bikes and if you are keeping your dog on a lead. Practising really good recall or emergency down, so that the dog drops to down when you ask it to with a hand signal are things that could save your dog’s life. So, for example, if your dog runs off towards a road if you’ve got a good recall you can call the dog back. If your dog is running across a path and you see a bike coming and you can call that dog back again, you’re going to minimize the risk of injury to the dog or the human riding the bike.

Mix that in with an emergency down when you need to and you can just do a hand signal if your dog can’t hear you it can drop down or if it can hear you as well it can hear the request for it to go down, it will just drop down in an instant.

Helen: Ultimately accidents do happen and I’m sure there are scenarios of dogs running in front of bikes and there being a collision. What sort of signs of injury should you look for and how would you treat them?

Jo: If a dog is hit by a bike, they could experience bruising, internal injuries and shock. They could have symptoms that indicate that they’re in pain that could be more subtle, you may hear an initial yelp or there could be more subtle symptoms like panting or pacing or walking with their elbows out which may indicate chest pain. So, if your dog is hit by a bike you do need to get it checked out by a vet whether you think that there is an injury there or not as it may be something that’s not visible to the untrained eye.

About Jo Middleton

Dog first aid trainer and founder of Dog First Aid Franchise Ltd – an organisation with a veterinary team boasting over 50 years experience.