Most dogs love to travel. They enjoy sniffing out new places and the excitement of taking a ride in the car. Just notice the glee on dogs’ faces when hanging out windows of passing cars. Have you ever passed a motorcycle with a dog riding on it and wish your dog could be that cool? Do you know how to keep your dog safe on a motorcycle?
Before you hop on your bike with your canine sidekick and ride on down the road, there are steps you must take to prepare both yourself and the dog for the rush of adrenaline. Certainly, dogs love to be with their owners at all times, but it is your responsibility is to ensure your pup’s safety on your two-wheeled adventures. And, depending on your dog’s personality, it could become a pro at riding shotgun.
Ease Your Dog into Motorcycle Riding
Not all dogs are fit to ride motorcycles. A dog’s personality and size are two factors that must strongly be considered when thinking about adding your dog as a passenger on your bike. For some dogs, the stress and anxiety are too much for them to handle. Large dogs may be more difficult to safely secure for the speeds that motorcycles can reach.
Generally, the more confident or laid back your dog is, the better passenger it will make regardless of its size. If you think your dog’s temperament is up for the experience, you still need to ease them into riding the motorcycle. Simply tethering your dog to the motorcycle and hoping for the best is not how to keep your dog safe on a motorcycle.
Sidecars, Tail Bag and Dog-Friendly Other Options
Finding a secure place for your dog to sit is fundamental to keep your dog safe on a motorcycle . The size and type of transporter will depend on whether your pet is large or small. If your pet is a small dog, you may at first consider simply holding your dog as you drive, but that’s exceedingly dangerous, both to yourself, your dog and other drivers on the road.
Larger dogs may be able to just “hold on” to the seat, but again, that is a huge safety issue, especially for longer rides. The best choice is to make sure your pet is secured for their protection. There are several different choices of items to use to contain your pet in one location while you’re driving the motorcycle.
- Backpacks and Slings – Smaller dogs can be placed in backpacks or chest slings similar to the ones parents use to carry babies. The pet should be comfortable being carried in the tote before you attempt to take them for a spin on the motor vehicle.
- Custom Dog Seat – If you’re a regular traveler who wants a companion on your many road trips, you might consider having a custom dog seat installed on your bike. The special setting allows a pet of any size the ability to ride as a two-up passenger.
- Tail or Tank Carrier – Dogs of the smaller breed variation can easily fit into a carrier that can be installed on the tail or tank of the bike. Some bikers even have a special carrier built that has windows and ventilation for the pet’s comfort.
- Sidecar – The ultimate dream of combining pet ownership and motorcycles. Sidecars are the most expensive option that also comes with a lot of spectator attention. It is an option to consider if it fits into your budget and you have a larger dog who has an adventurous spirit.
Take Your Time
Think of it as a parent teaching their child to ride a bicycle. It takes encouragement and patience. You can begin by setting your dog on the motorcycle when the engine is running so they can get used to the noise and vibration. It may take more than one training session before your pup is accustomed to the bike.
Once your dog seems relaxed with the rumble of the bike, you can slowly begin to roll the bike at a low speed that won’t injure your dog if they get spooked and jump off. Any strides your dog makes in accepting the motorcycle should be rewarded with praise and treats.
You can also try calming treats at the beginning of training to help keep your dog relaxed. However, the calming treats should be used with training instead of just drugging the dog into compliance. Your dog’s safety is the most important thing when traveling, whether in a car, motorcycle or airplane.
Know the Law
Read more to find out what you’ll need to ride safely and legally. Typically, dogs can legally ride on motorcycles if they are safely secured; however, it’s best to check your local municipal motor vehicle laws to see if there are additional rules you need to follow to keep your dog safe on a motorcycle.
Doggie Essentials for Road Trips
If you’re merely taking your bike (and pet) for a spin around the block, you don’t need to bring a lot of extra items. However, if you’re taking a trip that will last a few hours or longer, then there are a few things you will need to keep your dog comfortable and happy. What should you bring with you on the road?
Food and Water
Even short trips of a few hours will leave your pet parched and possibly hungry. Always bring water on excursions. Nylon travel bowls are perfect for your pooch’s needs. The loop on the side of the bowl can easily be attached to a belt or zipper to save room on the bike.
You don’t have to schedule your bike ride around your pet’s feeding schedule if you bring their food with you. Be sure to prepare some canned dog food for your canine friend. Don’t forget to pack the calming treats in case your dog gets nervous during the road trip.
As cute as it is to see dogs sticking their heads out of car windows or their fur blowing in the open wind, it’s actually very dangerous for their health. Rocks, dirt and other particles can cause irritation in their eyes or even become lodged in the eye. The best way to avoid the potential health problems of exposing your dog to the high winds is a pair of Doggles. That’s dog goggles. They look as funny as they sound, but they work great in protecting your pet’s eyes.
You will need a travel leash for the potty breaks at rest areas along the way. Many rest stops don’t have enclosed areas where pets can roam free. Leashes are often required and keep dogs from running into traffic.
Your pup should also have a collar to attach the leash. A collar is also necessary for identity information about your pet should they get loose and run off.
Microchip or Nametag
Nametags and microchips are the most popular methods pet owners use to let strangers know if the dog is a stray and how to contact the owners in the event of a lost pet. Nametags often communicate the pet’s name, along with the owner’s address and cell phone number.
A growing number of dog owners are choosing to include humorous notes on the nametag, such as “Call my mom. I’m lost and she is at home crying.” Just don’t forget that the most important thing about a nametag is your pet’s name and your contact information.
Microchips are passive devices that will return a unique and identifying number when scanned. This number can be searched on a number of databases to find the owner’s address and phone number. Unlike name tags that are immediately visible and accessible, microchips require a microchip scanner and database search for identification purposes. However, if you find yourself frequently coming upon lost dogs, you may want to consider purchasing your own personal microchip scanner.
Ready to Hit the Road, Jack
Pet owners often say they would bring their dogs with them everywhere if they could. If you’re a biker, now you can safely bring your beloved pet with you on motorcycle outings. Some dogs will never be comfortable riding motorcycles;, but it can be a fun and exciting experience for both the owner and their willing dog as long as you know how to keep your dog safe on a motorcycle.
Leo Wilson graduated from a university with a major in animal health and behavior. He had over a decade of experience working in the pet industry and has contributed many dogs and pet-related articles to several websites before he decided to start sharing his knowledge on his own blog. And when he is not busy working, he and his wonderful wife love spending time at home with their 3 dogs and 2 cats.