Got a bike tour coming up and you’re thinking about bringing your dog? It’s not as crazy as it sounds, I did it twice and we both had a great time. Here are some things to think about.
The main elements for success are an attentive well behaved dog and a patient owner. As crazy as it sounds, I was able to let her run next to me off-leash when we were climbing mountains; she was very smart and always responded to commands. And to make things easier on her she rode in a trailer on the flats and during descents.
I bought the trailer used for about $20. It was a bike trailer designed for carrying children. I took the seat out and added a ¼” plywood floor and gave her a blanket on the bottom for a little padding. She wore a simple harness and I attached a leash to her harness with the other end knotted to the trailer to keep her from jumping out. The harness was great, it kept her from getting tangled in the leash as she spun around in the trailer over and over. The trailer came with a rain cover that I thought about removing, but I found it works really to reduce drag if you’re riding against the wind. Purpose built dog trailers for cycling are available, and they look great, but my pockets were never deep enough for something like that, and I like to make and retrofit things.
If you and your dog are accustomed to camping, things will be pretty easy. I hoped she would sleep in the tent vestibule, but after a long day I didn’t want to argue with her when she wanted to sleep on my feet with the blanket on top of her. Bring 2 collapsible dog bowls for food and water. You don’t need to bring an entire trips supply of food, just stop along the way to resupply. And don’t forget the dog treats.
I carried my own gear in panniers on my bike; see my other articles for details on that. A small first aid kit is probably a good idea to bring along. We never had any problems but abrasions could be a problem if a paw slips out while on the move. Make sure your dog has a current name tag with your phone number.
I did two 2-week tours traveling this way; my dog/traveling companion Lily was a ~35 lb Border Collie. It doesn’t get much better than riding along a river with your best friend, stopping now and then to share a snack and maybe going for a swim. As you arrive in to town you’ll be the subject of a lot of conversation and smiles, make sure to stop for a chat and laugh along with the people as you roll on past. Chances are they’ve never seen anything quite like this. Have a blast!