Choosing a bike basket for your dog is pretty easy when you remember a few basics.
- The size and weight of your dog determine if you can or can’t use a bike basket. This is an ideal way for sharing a bike ride with a small dog. It is not so ideal for a large one. (Imagine your Mastiff sitting on the bike’s handlebars. We couldn’t either.)
- Most bike baskets are geared for dogs under 20 pounds. There are a few for slightly larger dogs, but not many. For anything larger than 26 pounds, you’ll need a trailer that attaches to a bike, but that’s another article.
- You’ll need to measure your dog sitting up. If you want your little Fido to be able to lie down, you’ll need to measure him in that position as well. But most dogs sit up so they can enjoy the breeze and the view.
Now let’s visit the types of carriers.
There are basically three types of carriers: wicker, metal, fabric. Wicker is the most earth-friendly material, plus it has a charming look to it, very country and rustic. But don’t be fooled – wicker is very durable and strong. Its downside – it’s difficult to clean if your dog has an “accident.” With wicker’s porous nature, it will take some scrubbing to get messes out of the pores.
Metal baskets look a little scary, but they’re the strongest as well as the easiest to clean. Just hose them off and you’re ready to go.
Both wicker and metal baskets have the best air circulation too.
Fabric baskets are the ones with the most bells and whistles. Generally made from tough fabrics like canvas or parachute nylon, they come with padded inserts, pockets, and carry handles or shoulder straps. While fabric baskets look cool, they’re also the least rigid. In addition, fabric baskets are also the most likely to sway while on the ride, which can be disconcerting for your dog.
Things to consider
- As mentioned earlier, weight is not the only consideration when choosing a bike basket. Length (whether the pup is sitting or lying down) is equally important. Measure to be sure. Then measure again.
- No matter how durable you think the basket is, bike baskets are not for mountain biking or off roading. Every tiny bump you feel will be magnified for your precious pup. Not only can this make the ride uncomfortable, it can seriously traumatize more nervous breeds. Especially if hitting a bump sends them airborne. Stick to smooth paths, sidewalks or streets.
- Most baskets come with a safety tether attached, and we recommend choosing one of those; however, if you go with one that doesn’t have a built-in tether, plan on adding your own for your safety as well as your furry friend’s. Accidents happen when a dog launches himself out of a basket, which can happen when he sees a squirrel or another dog. Not only can he injure himself when he lands, he can injure you too when you find yourself suddenly off balance and crashing to the ground. Tether your pup. For both your sakes.
- If your basket of choice doesn’t already come with a washable padded insert, plan on adding your own. This not only adds to your dog’s comfort, but it also absorbs whatever your pup might want to roll around in when you’ve reached your destination. Because as any dog owner knows, dogs will find the raunchiest substance around to roll in.
- As with any new dog accessory, conveyance or contraption, get your dog used to it before using it. Don’t just toss her in and expect her to be ready to roll. Set it on the ground in your home first and let her explore it. Then put it on the parked bike and put her in it. Then, when she’s comfortable, walk the bike around a bit, maybe down the street and around the block. Only then should you attempt to ride with your canine companion in the basket. You’ll both be better off for taking the time to get her adjusted to it.
- Understand that having the added weight of a basket plus a dog on the front of your bike will make steering harder. Go slow and get used to it before taking off on a 5-mile ride. Use the back brakes first (before the front), and lean back when braking. Dogs in baskets on the back of a bike add stability. Not so the front.
- If you regularly use your bike without your dog along for the ride, choose a basket that detaches easily.
- Do not ever ever EVER leave your bike unattended with your pup still in the basket. ‘Nuff said.