How to Make Your Dog Comfortable Riding in a Pet Trailer

With the arrival of spring and nice weather, I’m starting to see more people out biking, towing a dog trailer with one or two pets happily riding along. When considering adding bike outings to your routine with Fido, how can you allow your dog to feel comfortable with this new activity?

Will My Dog Enjoy Riding in a Trailer?

It’s a good idea to ask yourself a few questions before purchasing a Bike Pet Trailer:

Is your dog fearful and cautious of anything new or is he adaptable and enjoys new experiences? In some cases a fearful pet might not be comfortable being enclosed in a trailer in traffic. Consider how much your dog enjoys riding in the family car. Does he enjoy traveling or is he more of a homebody?

Is your dog comfortable being in a crate or enclosed area? A pet trailer is not unlike a dog crate on wheels. If he refuses to get into a crate, riding in a trailer may not be the best activity for him.

Is your dog under 110 pounds? Larger trailers such as the Solvit Hounabout top out in this weight range. If you have a really large dog such as a St Bernard, Mastiff or Great Dane you might consider leaving the bike at home and going for a brisk walk!

Getting Your Dog Used To the Bike Trailer:

As with many training activities, be patient, take your time and break things down into small stages. When your pet is comfortable and happy, move on to the next step. Use positive reinforcement: treats and praise and limit the sessions to no more than 15-20 minutes.

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Take the wheels off and set the trailer up indoors as you would a dog crate. Most trailers will allow you to do this easily.

Place a treat or favorite toy beside the trailer cabin and then eventually inside.

When he goes in, pet him, give him lots of praise and love, and reward him with another treat.

During the day, try placing his food bowl in the trailer. Above all, be patient and let him take the time to get used to being in the cabin.

When he seems comfortable, put the wheels back on, take the dog trailer outside and attach to your bike. As in the previous steps, use treats, toys and positive reinforcement to get him used to jumping inside.

Once he’s comfortable, make sure he’s properly secured in the pet bike trailer. A well made trailer will have D rings built in for attaching a harness.

Many trailers have the ability to open the top so he can sit upright with his head exposed, this might be the most comfortable initially.

Start riding slowly and smoothly; sudden braking and acceleration might scare your dog. Make your first ride really short, just a trip down a quiet street or around the block. Talk to your dog calmly and at the end of the ride give him a few treats.

Once you have successfully taken a few rides around the block, start taking your dog with you on longer rides. Be sure to take your dog to fun places such as the dog park or beach. Soon, Fido will associate riding in a pet trailer with a fun destination and the two of you can enjoy this new activity.

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One Additional Hint: Some larger dogs feel a bit insecure sitting on the suspended floor of a trailer. An easy solution is to measure the floor, visit Home Depot and have them cut out a piece of 1/4″ plywood to size. Place this under the cushion and your dog will feel more secure with the ride.