Necessary Safety Equipment for Bike Trailers. Towing your dog behind you in a trailer entails some safety risks. So it is vital to follow basic bicycle safety practices and select a trailer with all of the protective features possible. Look for trailers that provide the following features:
- Reflectors — Reflectors make it easier for motorists and other cyclists to see you in low-light conditions. They should be considered mandatory equipment for those who plan to ride in the dark (including dawn or dusk). However, you can purchase after-market reflectors, should your desired trailer lack them.
- Safety Flags – Flags are great for increasing your visibility during the day. Some of the best safety flags are mount into long poles, which extend above the height of the trailer. Like reflectors, you can purchase safety flags for trailers that do not come with them.
- Interior Leash Ties or D-Rings – You’ll need to keep your dog securely attached to the trailer. It will prevent the dog from moving around too much in the trailer. It also avoids your dog from running off if something unforeseen happens (for example, if you take a spill). Leash ties and D-rings are the most common ways to do so.
- Parking Brakes – You’ll want to be sure that the trailer doesn’t roll around. Especially when you are loading and unloading your pet, always look for trailers that feature a parking brake.
- Safety Straps – Safety straps are usually in the hitch mechanism. They serve as a backup ether to keep the trailer attached to the bike, in case the first hitch fails.
Dog Bike Trailers Safety: Taking Precautions
When purchasing a trailer, make sure it includes all of the vital safety features. You’ll need to use it carefully to ensure you and your pooch return home in one piece.
Follow the steps below to help reduce the chances of accidents and injuries.
Allow More Distance for Stopping. Bike trailers aren’t that heavy, but when combined with your dog’s weight, they’ll increase the overall mass you are piloting down the bike path. It means that it will take you much longer to stop than it usually does, so stay on your toys. Be careful that you don’t stop too suddenly either, as this can cause you to lose control.
Slow Down When Turning. While a trailer gives you a broad base, you can still tip over if you try to corner like your riding in the Tour de France, sending you, your bike, and pup skidding across the pavement (ouch). Slow it down, speedy, and corner like your grandpa would while driving a minivan.
Start Slow and Short. Remember that you’ll be working a lot harder than usual when towing a loaded trailer behind you. You don’t want to find yourself exhausted on the road’s side during your miles from home. Make your first few trips shorter than average, before trying to travel for extended distances.
Stick to Smooth Surfaces. Even if you ride a mountain bike designed to handle the roughest terrain, use your bike trailer on smooth, flat surfaces. Stick to roads, sidewalks, and bike paths (always follow your local laws and regulations). Stick to roads, sidewalks, and bike paths (still support your local laws and regulations).
Buckle Up Your Pup. It would help if you always were sure that your dog is securely attached to the trailer. It will help keep him as safe as possible in the event of an accident. Still, it can also help keep your pup’s weight in the middle of the trailer, making it easier for you to keep your balance.
Wear a Helmet. (In my best dad voice): Wear a helmet, dummy. You may even want to wear knee or elbow pads too. Don’t worry about looking silly; safety is far more important than style. You may even want to purchase a helmet for your canine companion as well.
Introducing Your Dog To Bike Trailers
Once you receive one of your new bike trailers, you’ll need to introduce it to your dog. While many dogs take to trailer-riding with little effort, others will be nervous about riding inside. Accordingly, you’ll need to start slow and introduce your dog to the trailer gradually.
Begin by putting the trailer together in a quiet room, and then let your dog come in, give the trailer a sniff or two and check it out. You don’t even need to attach the trailer to your bike to do this. Don’t rush things and let your dog approach the trailer on its own. Give your buddy lots of praise and treats as he checks out the trailer.
If this first step goes well, you can open up the trailer and encourage your dog to enter it.
Again, don’t force your dog if he needs a little extra encouragement, tosses a high-value treat. You can also throw one of his favorite toys inside to provide some additional incentive. Be calm and reassuring, and praise him once he jumps inside. Try to make the entire procedure a fun, positive experience.
Once your dog is comfortable sitting inside (which may take several different sessions to accomplish), strap him in and close up the trailer. If he appears to be taking things in stride, you can begin pulling the trailer around by hand. Keep things slow and gentle and help him learn that he is safe in the trailer and that there is nothing scary about the experience.
Once your dog is comfortable in the trailer, begin hooking it up to your bike and going for a short ride. Once you’re satisfied that the dog is pleased with the experience, you can head out for a proper bike ride.
Don’t Push Your Pooch.
Keep in mind that some dogs need more time than others to adjust to new and strange objects. Some dogs take days; others take closer to a week or two to get comfortable with different items like doggie treadmills or nail clippers.
Forcing your dog into situations, they’re anxious about will make things 10x more difficult.
You might need to post the trailer on Craigslist within the month if you aren’t patient with your pup! Take your time and let your dog get acclimated at his rate – he’ll get there eventually!
Do you use bike trailers to get your dog out and about? What challenges have you experienced that we didn’t cover? What types of features have you found especially helpful?
Let us know all about your experiences in the comments below.