4th August 2020
You and your dog will see a variety of different things while out and about on your daily walks, most of which your pooch is probably used to, but have you ever come face-to-face with a cyclist? It can be quite worrying to imagine how your dog will react to a bike even if it’s something they’ve come across before.
We look at how to keep your dog safe around bikes, the rules around shared cycle paths and how to stop your dog from chasing bikes.
How do I keep my dog safe around bikes?
Every dog will react differently when seeing a cyclist; some are afraid, while others are inclined to chase the whirring wheels. Whatever the response, it can be dangerous for you, your dog, whoever is riding the bike and those around you.
Seeing the path ahead
If your dog is afraid of bikes and you're likely to bump into one along your walk’s route, it might be best to keep your dog on a lead unless you can see the path ahead of you. This way, a cyclist won’t be able to startle your pooch and you’ll have enough time to put them back on the lead if you see a bike ahead of you.
Stay alert to your surroundings
Stay alert on your walks, as cyclists could approach you and your dog from behind. Regularly checking the path behind you will allow you to prepare your dog or distract them as the bike passes.
Buy accessories to warn others
There are different accessories available to buy which can be clipped on to a dog’s collar or harness, that will let those around you know that your dog is nervous. This can serve as a polite notice to cyclists to slow down, or even dismount, when they get close to you and your pooch.
Stick to predictable environments
If it’s the weekend, school holidays or even just a nice day, it might be a good idea to stick to a predictable area that you and your dog know well. This could be going to a nearby dog-walking field, or simply going for early morning walks when you know it will be quieter.
What are the rules on shared paths?
When out walking on shared paths, all users should be considerate to those around them. These paths can be used by scooters, prams, bikes, runners, dogs and walkers, meaning they can get quite busy at times.
There is no legal requirement for dogs to be kept on leads while walking on a public right of way but check with your local authority as there may be an order in place on certain paths and always look out for signs.
With there being no law on keeping your dog on a lead, they do need to be kept under control. You might want to keep them on a short lead as you walk on shared paths as this can help keep your pet safe from fast cyclists, children on scooters and other users that can quickly appear from behind you and your dog.
How can I stop my dog from chasing bikes?
Certain dog breeds have an instinct to chase something that moves as it’s likely their breed was either originally used for hunting or herding, which required the ability to respond to its surroundings. This can be bad news when it comes to things like runners, bikes or even cars and can result in injuries on both sides of the chase.
So, how can you stop your dog from chasing bikes?
Introducing a bike
If you have a bike at home, this can help you introduce a bike in calm and familiar surroundings. If you can, push the bike alongside you while another member of the family walks your dog. This way, your pooch will get used to the movements and noises a bike might make.
Then, once your dog is used to walking alongside a bike, get a friend or family member to ride past slowly as you stand to the side with your dog on the lead. Tell them to sit and stay and watch them as the bicycle passes.
Remember: Give your pooch a treat when they listen, to reinforce their good behaviour!
You might have to provide treats quite often if they are sitting and staying, to make sure they stay interested in what you’re offering instead of what’s passing.
Repeat and move closer
Once your dog is listening to the commands you give and are happily distracted by the treats you provide, you’ll be able to move closer to the staged bike.
Channel their chasing
Buying a ball, frisbee or other throwing toys can help you appropriately channel your dog’s chasing instinct.
Every dog is different, and some will never get used to bikes passing them. As their owner, you know your dog best; if you’re unsure of their reaction or recall, always keep your dog on a lead to keep your dog and those around you safe.