Taking Your Fur Ball Along For the Ride: Tips To Ride Safely With Your Dog

Jake Robison - September 13, 2022

Despite stereotypes to the contrary, bikers are just like the rest of us—they treat their pets like family. At the American Motorcycle Trading Co., we know riders, and we understand how they love their furry friends. That’s why we’re so committed to keeping dogs and other pets happy, healthy, and safe around motorcycles.

It may take some time and effort to help your dog get used to the bike. Some riders wonder how to help their pets grow accustomed to the sound, while others wonder how to ride safely and legally with their animals. No matter which way you’re headed, this guide will help you share the love of the open road with your four-legged friend.

Consider the Breed

If your dog is of the right breed and the situation is approached safely, riding can be fun. Certain small breeds are well-suited to life on two wheels, such as:

  • Bichons
  • Cavalier King Charles spaniels
  • Havanese
  • Maltese
  • Pugs
  • Yorkshire terriers

While it’s easier to bring a small breed along for the ride, saddling up with a bigger dog is possible. With the right carrier or sidecar, even the biggest pooches can come along.

Pack Them Up

A close-fitting harness that’s worn across the back or chest is an excellent option for small dogs who like to be held but may be nervous in tank or tail bags. Your pooch will be where they like to be—close to you!

Choose a Good Carrier

People take their dogs almost everywhere these days, and motorcycle trips are no exception. To keep your pooch safe on two wheels, however, you’ll need the right kind pet carrier. Some models attach to the rear of a bike, while others are used like sidecars. Regardless of the type of carrier you choose, it should be roomy enough to accommodate the animal and it should be double-checked for safety and security before every ride. Motorcycle pet carriers can be bought online and in some local pet supply stores.

Know Your Dog’s Temperament

Before saddling up with your four-legged friend, take some time to evaluate his or her temperament. Riding causes mental and physical stress for humans and animals, and not all dogs are road ready. If your canine isn’t in good health, or they behave unpredictably, it’s best to leave them at home. If you’d rather sell your motorcycle than go without Fido, we can help.

Check the Weather Forecast

Many bikers like to go to rallies, such as the one that takes place in Sturgis, South Dakota each year. Most rallies happen during the summer, and all that heat—as well as the thunderstorms that can build quickly—may take their toll on a dog.

As you’re protecting yourself from wind, rain, sun, and other elements, you’ll need to make accommodations for the animal as well. Ensure that they have UV protective clothing, dog-friendly sunscreen, and enough water to stay well hydrated.

Take it Slow

Even the most well-behaved dogs may be a bit nervous when riding for the first time, and that’s why it’s a good idea to acclimate them gradually. Try taking short rides at first, sweetening the deal with treats, praise, affection, and positive reinforcement. Most dogs will pick it up quickly and they will learn to anticipate the next ride.

Pack Your Pup’s Gear

Like small children, dogs need extra supplies when they’re on the road. Of all the things you’ll pack for your dog, protective gear is the most important. Take the same precautions you’d take for yourself; buy goggles, a dog helmet, booties, and a jacket for cold-weather rides. For longer trips, bring a blanket, waste disposal bags, travel-ready dishes, and a first aid kit.

Help Them Out

While you’re probably already at ease on two wheels, it’s crucial to keep your dog’s comfort in mind. Sudden braking, the exhibition of speed, and sharp directional changes can be quite unnerving, and in some cases, they can even be dangerous. Try to keep unexpected movements to a minimum; it’ll make your dog happy and ensure a safe, uneventful trip.

Stay Within the Law

As fun as it may be, riding with a dog isn’t legal in every area. And, even in states where it is permitted, certain actions may land you on the wrong side of the law. These include:

  • Allowing the animal to ride on your lap. While your dog may be content to sit on your lap at home, doing it on the open road can be dangerous. While you’re on two wheels, a sidecar, backpack, or carrier is the best place for your companion animal.
  • Using an open basket at the rear of the bike. Many of us have seen people riding with their dogs in rear-mounted baskets, but it’s very risky. An open basket provides no protection or restraint for an animal, and any sudden movement can spell disaster. A sidecar or a carrier provides a safe and legal alternative.

Before packing up your dog’s gear and hitting the road, ensure that it’s legal to do so in your state. By avoiding these common mistakes and following the law, riders can keep themselves and their dogs safe.

Follow These Tips for a Safe, Dog-Friendly Ride

With their high speeds, sudden movements, and loud noises, bikes can be frightening to dogs who haven’t grown used to them. It’s not a very good idea to put a pooch in a carrier and hit the road. Rather, they should be given the time to become accustomed to the sound of the bike and the feeling of the backpack, carrier, or sidecar. With a little time and effort, plenty of treats and love, and the right gear, you can bring your four-legged buddy along for any ride.

Whether you are a veteran rider or just want to enjoy a new hobby with a furry friend, you will find the right bike for a great ride here at the American Motorcycle Trading Co. Call us today, browse our selection online, or click to get started.



Jake Robison


Jake Robison has operated powersports dealerships since 2003.  With an extensive background in the motorcycle industry including sales, service, parts, finance, management and powersports training, he covers all things motorcycles and enjoys sharing valuable information to newcomers on two-wheels

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