Riding a motorcycle with a dog is an exciting adventure that many pet owners enjoy. While it may sound daunting at first, with proper preparation and training, it can be a safe and fun experience for both you and your dog.
In this article we will cover what the laws say about riding a motorcycle with a dog, how to train your dog to be comfortable and safe, and what accessories you will need.
What does the law say about riding a motorcycle with a dog?
The Highway Code differs between countries, however generally, it states that animals may be transported as long as they are protected. This means that dogs must be restrained, either by a pet carrier or a sidecar.
Article 170 of the Italian Highway Code (“Transporting people and objects on two-wheeled motor vehicles”) says that:
“On the vehicles referred to in paragraph 1 (motorcycles and mopeds, ed.) it is forbidden to transport objects that are not solidly protected, that protrude laterally with respect to the axis of the vehicle or longitudinally with respect to the shape of it by more than fifty centimetres. Within the above limits, transporting animals is allowed providing they are kept in a special cage or container.”
Therefore, dogs can be transported by motorcycle, as long as they travel safely inside special carriers and the dimensions of these fall within the protrusion limits of the vehicle.
Is your dog fit to ride on a motorcycle?
Motorcycles are one of the most dangerous vehicles to drive on the roads. Even if you’re a skilled or professional driver, a crash can still happen at any time. The risk is even greater if you decide to take your dog along for the ride, as they may be a cause for distraction. This is why it is so important to ensure that your dog is comfortable on a motorbike, and will cause minimal distraction to you and others on the road.
While dogs are generally great pets, not all dogs will be comfortable riding on a motorcycle. Before deciding to embark on a new adventure with your dog, it’s important that you take the time to consider whether your dog is a good fit for a motorcycle buddy.
It’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable if you have to ride for long distances. It may seem like a good idea to take them for a ride, but if they’re uncomfortable it could cause them to panic, causing a dangerous situation on the road.While a large dog can ride on the back of a motorcycle, it is very dangerous for the animal. Not only will it be susceptible to the dangers of the road, but it will also be exposed to the wind and weather.
Size and weight.
Please consider your dog’s size. Generally, it would be far easier and safer to ride a motorcycle with a dog that is small in size and weight. Firstly, in order to comply with the Highway Code, nothing must protrude laterally over the vehicle, which may be difficult for a large dog. Secondly, for the safety of you, your dog and others on the road, it’s important that your dog is stable on your motorcycle. A large dog may find it hard to balance and will cause the vehicle to feel more unstable. Furthermore, you, the driver will find it harder to ride a motorcycle with a large weight on the back of your vehicle.
If you want to ride a motorcycle with a large dog, your best option would be to invest in a sidecar.
Dog’s personality and behaviour.
Dog’s can be a massive distraction, which can be very dangerous when riding a motorcycle. The perfect motorcycle buddy is a calm dog that won’t move around a lot. Of course, there are ways to train your dog to be calm on a motorcycle, which we will discuss later, however, not all dogs will be suitable. If you have a nervous or anxious dog, please consider whether the experience will be too stressful for your dog. It’s also important that your dog is well behaved and obedient. A disobedient dog can be a serious traffic hazard.
If you are unsure of whether your dog is a good fit for a motorcycle, you can slowly introduce your dog to the motorcycle and monitor your dog’s behaviour and progress.
Always check the health condition of your dog before hopping on the motorcycle. If your dog is showing any signs of sickness, please avoid taking them on a motorcycle. A sick dog will be far more uncomfortable and nervous, which could be a serious hazard on the road.
How do I prepare and train my dog?
Dogs are not born ready to travel by motorbike, so you need to get them used to it gradually, preferably as puppies. A puppy will be far easier to train to ride on a motorcycle, particularly between 2-4 months. During this time is the socialisation period, where it’s important to introduce them to many different environments and experiences. A puppy that is well socialised is far more likely to grow to be a calmer, less fearful adult.
It’s important to take these steps at your dog’s pace. Only move onto the next step when you feel like your dog is comfortable with the step you are on. By forcing your dog to move on too quickly, may cause stress and fear.
It’s also a great idea to reward calm behaviour with your dog’s favourite treats, at each step.
1. Start with the motorcycle engine off.
Once you have the right gear for your dog, it is time to introduce them to the motorcycle. It’s important to start off slowly by getting your dog familiar with the motorcycle. With the engine off, get your dog to sit on the motorcycle.
2. Turn the engine on.
Once your dog is comfortable with being on a stationery motorcycle with the engine off. It’s time to turn the engine on. This will help your dog get used to the sounds and vibrations of the motorcycle, making them more comfortable when you eventually start riding.
3. Do some short rides.
After your dog has become comfortable with the motorcycle with the engine on, it is time to start short practice rides. Start with very slow speeds, simply moving back and round. If your dog seems comfortable, you can gradually increase the distance and speed.
4. Then move onto longer rides.
If your dog is happy on the motorcycle, you can keep working your way up to longer journeys. Of course, make sure you take frequent breaks to give your dog a chance to stretch its legs and relieve itself.
What accessories do you need?
So, if you are planning on riding a motorcycle with a dog, you must do your research so that you can purchase the proper gear for them. The main things to consider is your dog’s comfort and security. You will need to invest in a specially designed dog carrier or harness to keep your dog safe during the ride. This will prevent your dog from jumping out or falling off the motorcycle and getting injured.
Whether you are a beginner or an expert rider, before transporting your dog by motorcycle, you need to have a series of accessories for your pet’s well-being and protection. It should be specified that transporting medium and large-sized dogs is more complex and, in this case, it would be better to travel with a sidecar. In general, however, the following things are needed:
1. Pet carrier.
When transporting small dogs on motorbikes, it is advisable to use a pet carrier, which should be firmly joined to the motorbike, or a specific tank bag. When selecting a carrier or harness, make sure it is the right size and fits your dog comfortably. It should be sturdy and well-ventilated, with enough room for your dog to move around and stretch its legs. Of course, the cage must not protrude on the sides of your motorcycle.
When you are looking for the best pet carrier for motorcycles, you have to consider several different factors. These may include the following:
- ease of use and load;
- strong enough to survive in the wind;
- secure enough to keep your pet in place;
- durable enough so it will be able to withstand being on a motorcycle without getting damaged;
- ensure that it will not fall off while you’re riding down the highway;
- be able to stay still and not wobble around;
- reasonable price for its purpose;
- functionality for your pet’s use;
- right size for your four-legged friend.
2. Crash helmet for dogs.
The crash helmet is also a lifesaver for your furry friend: opt for a rigid or semi-rigid model of helmet that will adapt to the shape of your dog’s ears and has internal padding to ensure greater protection. The crash helmet is also used to protect your dog’s sensitive ears from wind and draughts.
Some dogs will find it uncomfortable wearing a crash helmet, especially if they’ve never worn anything on their heads before. Therefore, it’s important to get your dog used to wearing a crash helmet, before you set off on your road trip.
3. Specs / goggles.
Finally, provide eye protection for your dog. At speed, a bug or debris in the eyes is not ideal and may cause your dog to freak out. That problem can be avoided with some goggles.
Similarly to the crash helmet, if your dog has not worn goggles before, it will likely find it uncomfortable at first. Spend some time getting your dog used to wearing goggles before hopping on the motorcycle. It’s always a good idea to use your dog’s favourite treats as a reward.
Different ways to ride a motorcycle with a dog.
Another option is wearing a pet backpack whilst riding a motorcycle with a dog. A backpack will allow your dog to face forward and stay secure while on your back. When selecting a pet backpack, it’s important to consider the right size for your dog, and ensure that it is sturdy and well ventilated. However, it is important to keep in mind the weight shift while you ride and determine what best suits your riding skills.
Sidecars for dogs is becoming a more popular option for motorcycle fanatics. I would personally argue that a sidecar is the most comfortable option for a dog on a motorcycle. Most sidecars will come with a padded seat for your dog to sit, lay down and turn around in. They are far more spacious than many pet carriers and backpacks. There are many different sidecars on the market today, so you can find one that’s a perfect fit for your dog. They are a lot more expensive than the other options, but it may be a worthy investment for your dog’s safety, comfort and joy!
Tips for riding a motorcycle with a dog.
Careful with your dog’s lead.
Ensure that your dog’s lead is not dangling down as you don’t want it to get entangled with your motorcycle wheels.
Take plenty of breaks.
Make sure you make plenty of pit stops to let your dog do its business and stretch its legs. You want your dog to be as comfortable as possible when riding.
Pack treats, food and water.
Ensure that your pet is well-hydrated and fed on your journey.
Protect your dog from the wind and cold.
It can get pretty cold riding on a motorcycle, so please protect your dog from the wind and cold by dressing them in appropriate clothing. Goggles and a helmet are also a good idea.
In conclusion, riding a motorcycle with a dog can be a very fun and rewarding experience for you both. However, it’s important to be mindful of your dog’s safety and comfort. Take some time to consider whether your dog is a good fit for a motorcycle buddy. Spend some time getting your dog used to the motorcycle and ensure your dog is calm on your vehicle before setting off. It’s also important to select the right gear. You want your dog to be safe, secure and comfortable. So, whether you decide to use a sidecar, pet carrier or backpack, ensure it’s the right size, is sturdy, cushioned and well-ventilated. Goggles and a helmet are also a good idea to protect your dog from the wind and any potential harm.
Happy and safe riding!