Bike Your Dog To Work

Alison LucienAlison Lucien knows her accessories. With ten years of fashion-industry experience behind her, she understands that the right bag or earrings can take a vintage dress from kitsch to cool. And the same goes for bikes. She rode her vintage Schwinn—which she brought all the way from her Ohio hometown—to work for years in NYC, but she couldn’t find high-quality, fashionable accessories to add style to her ride. Lost in a sea of unflattering spandex bike shorts, heavy metal baskets, she was inspired to start Eleanor’s – Stylish bicycle accessories for ladies.

Last year, an  article on USA Today’s blog  highlighted this trend and described the positive impact that dogs can have in corporate settings.   The idea that the workplace environment is improved by the presence of pups is based on more than just warm fuzzies (although that’s certainly a part of it).

Bike Your Dog To Work: Puppy Tails
Photo: Puppy Tails

In the article,  Rebecca Johnson, director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine, points out that dogs are a great way to relieve stress at work and provide a restorative distraction from the daily grind.   She cites the fact that people experience hormonal responses when they interact with dogs, and these tend to alleviate stress and foster greater and more positive interactions between co-workers.   In fact, there’s even a national Bring Your Dog To Work Day  taking place on June 21st this year.

Well this is all well and good, but how exactly do you get Fido to the office?   If you’re environmentally conscious, trying to save some pennies, or just an avid cycler like me, you might think that adding a canine to your commute is easier said than done.

Nantucket Bike Basket Company Pet Carrier

If you’ve got a tiny little lap dog 10 pounds or less, then this Nantucket Bike Basket Company Pet Carrier is the thing for you.   The basket easily mounts on your handlebars and can just as easily detach, and it’s made of sturdy rattan with a wire cage lid that lets plenty of fresh air and scenery reach your pup.   It also comes with a comfy little pillow for extra coziness during your commute.

Have a slightly larger pooch?   If your pet is in the mid-size range, lets say between 10 and 75 pounds, you’re still in luck.

Basil Pluto Pet Basket with Caged Lid
Photo: Olive Dog

Dog-owners whose canine companions are up to 30 pounds can still opt for the classic look of a woven bike basket with this Basil Pluto Pet Basket with Caged Lid.   This little number is front-mounting with a suspension fork and comes complete with an airy wire cage and a soft cushion for the ride.

Burley  also makes a number of products to help you maximize the usefulness of your bike, not the least convenient of which is their Tail Wagon covered dog trailer.   The Wagon is ideal for dogs up to 75 pounds and easily hitches to your bicycle.   It’s made of durable material that maintains your pet’s safety, while mesh windows allow Fido to check out his surroundings and soak up some of that fresh air.

Burley Tail Wagon

The flooring is removable for easy cleaning, and there are a number of pockets so you can stow additional pet gear.   The whole thing folds up for easy storage so it won’t take up a ton of space in the office, either.

If you’ve got a dog over 75 pounds, we know you aren’t messing around.   This Cargo Bike from Madsen Cycles is the perfect way to get your big dog to and from the office.   The bicycle itself is designed to be super sturdy and easily maneuvered, and the 40 gallon plastic cargo carrier is a spacious place for your sidekick to sit.

Cargo Bike from Madsen Cycles
Photo: Madsen Cycles

It even comes with two removable benches and  seat belts, so it’s infinitely versatile. This bike is great for commuting, especially when you’re bringing along that special somebody.

For the ultimate dog lover, who needs to transport a pack opposed to one pup. There are options which will require additional DIY ingenuity but they are doable starting with a solid chassis such as a Surly Bill Trailer, or this trailer from Bikes at Work:

Multi Dog Trailer
Photo: Bikes at Work

But finding the right pet carrier is only the first step.   Before bringing your bud to work by bicycle, it’s important to train him to be comfortable on the road.   Here are a few tips for acclimating your dog to his new ride:

  1. Select a bike basket/trailer that allows your dog to sit comfortably inside.
  2. Make sure there’s a blanket or pillow in the bottom of the basket for added comfort.
  3. Tie your dog securely in the basket/trailer with a dog harness or leash.
  4. Walk the bike with your dog in the basket a few times before taking him for a real ride.
  5. While walking, talk to him and keep a hand on him, urging him to sit and relax.  Reward with treats.
  6. Ride up and down the sidewalk for a few days letting him get used to the movement  and turning motions. Keep your hand on him if necessary. Make the sessions short at  first and gradually lengthen as he becomes more comfortable.
  7. Find a bump or rough spot like you would normally encounter while riding and go over  it repeatedly and constantly reassure him each time until you notice he is able to  anticipate what is going to happen and seems to be more relaxed about it.
  8. Try to anticipate things that might scare or excite your dog like riding near loud traffic,  encountering large dogs, cats or squirrels and expose him to them.
  9. Reward with treats and in no time you and pooch will ride safely and stylishly.
Dog Biking
Photo: Most Beautiful Pages

Following these tips will help you both adjust to traveling together to and from the office.   Then, once you’re at work, it’s important to make sure that both your dog and all your co-workers are comfortable.   Check with your human resources person about existing pet policies, and check out these Office Etiquette Tips for Dogs  that the ASPCA  put together.

The key to a hard day’s work is, of course, the ten-minute break. Plan your breathers around Fido’s needs so you two can enjoy  time-outs together.

We’re sure that in no time you and your pup will be hanging out around the water cooler.   Your co-workers will enjoy the company and you’ll feel good knowing that you’re not leaving your four-legged friend alone and lonely from 9 to 5.

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13 thoughts on “Bike Your Dog To Work”

  1. Ted Johnson says:

    Thanks Alison!

    Two thoughts:

    I’ve been wanting to try out the Clifford Canine Carrier from Timbuk2 for awhile now. It looks like a great solution for people who have medium-sized dogs.

    I used to have a dog who I would bike to work just using metal grocery panniers. I put foam rubber on the bottom for his feet. He had to be taught not to jump out. I taught him by letting him jump out a couple of times and he found out how unpleasant that was.

    Shopping Panniers Dog

    But the bigger problem was having my dog at work because he was a nipper. He didn’t nip everyone, but he nipped and broke skin a couple of times. He was very cute, and strangers would want to pet him. He would panic nip.

    I was proactive. Before my employer had to tell me to leave my dog at home, I offered to install a baby gate in my office to keep my dog in my office. That solved the problem.

    The moral of the story is that getting your dog to work is only part of having a successful dog-friendly workplace.

    BTW: My little vampire dog was Dog of the Day on Yes, that exists. His page is still up.

  2. Cdub says:

    “She cites the fact that people experience hormonal responses when they interact with dogs, and these tend to alleviate stress and foster greater and more positive interactions between co-workers.”

    Unless, you know, your coworkers don’t like dogs. Still, I don’t mind my cubemate bringing a dog in as long as I get to blast their least favorite music genre all day from my speakers pointed right at their head.

    IOW, keep your (non-service) dog at home.

  3. BluesCat says:

    Over two decades ago, I worked at a development company whose owner would bring his Great Dane to the office. The big fellow was a lovable couch potato who liked to snooze in my office on the floor next to my desk, forcing me to step over him to get to my file cabinet.

    I think he liked me because he smelled my two dogs and two cats on my clothes, but he didn’t like my boss. Shortly after I was fired, I heard that he bit my former boss.

    (heh, heh)

    GOOD Dog!

  4. Shanna Ladd says:

    I was hoping that our 2 Malamutes could bed down under my desk (didn’t get approval). Traveling down the path my set up would look opposite of the above!
    I like the idea of being able to take the little dog with me on a trip. Having a basket that can go on the bike & then detach easily for a train or ferry ride would be great.

  5. Graham says:

    Alternatively, if you have a high energy dog like myself who would love nothing better than to run for miles and miles with you, making them ride in a trailer would make them very sad!

    My boxer mix loves to run beside the bike on a loose leash. I think that he is glad that I’ve finally found a way to keep up with him!

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Agreed! With my former seven-mile dog/bike commute (the one in the photo above), there were a couple of safe stretches through parks where I would let him down to run off leash.

      It’s a good thing if you arrive to your workplace with a worn-out dog who wants to rest. So, if possible, give the dog some exercise on the way to work — even if the only safe way to do it is to stop for a while at a dog park.

      My current dog commute is on foot. I would need the mega-trailer, multi-dog scenario — and probably an e-bike — to bring these dogs in by bike. And the dogs wouldn’t be nearly as restful on arrival.

  6. Matt Johnson says:

    Is nobody going to comment on Ted’s saucy off-the-shoulder/I-love-Richard-Simmons look?

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Perhaps when everyone is done swooning.

  7. I´d love to take my dog cycling!!! 🙂


  8. stacey davis says:

    xtracycle with 3 foot wide side car for our old english bull doggees

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      I’d love to see a photo of that.

  9. Brian says:

    i use a Burley Trailer to carry my Standard poodle , took a little training for me and her but now she loves going for rides even to work. i even tow it to our favorite Mtb spots and then drop it at trails head so she can run.

  10. Steve Piercy says:

    For pets up to 110 pounds, there is the Solvit Houndabout.

    I have the large size for my yellow labrador retriever who weighs 87 pounds.

    From Duke in a Bicycle Trailer

    Product demo videos are here.

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