Dog and bike safety

Dog enjoys time outside in a grassy field

Dog walkers and cyclists often share paths and trails, which can be hazardous if basic precautions aren't taken. Follow these guidelines to ensure a safe experience for both animals and people.

Tips for dog walkers

  • Use a 4-6 ft. leash. Avoid using retractable leashes, as they can stretch too far too quickly and trip passersby, or allow your dog to run into traffic if the pathway is near a road.
  • Keep your dog close to you. Some people are afraid of dogs, so don’t allow your dog to approach others unless they invite him. Never let your dog run loose when there are other walkers and cyclists nearby.
  • Anticipate lunging behavior. Many dogs (particularly herding breeds) dart after moving objects, and a dog lunging at a bicycle can scare the rider or cause an accident. If you notice a bicycle approaching, lead your dog off of the path and ask him to sit. Reward him with treats until the cyclist passes by. This reinforces calm behavior.
  • Thank cyclists who alert you to their presence before passing.
  • Always pick up after your dog.

Tips for cyclists

  • Always signal your approach, even if the dog and walker are not in your direct pathway. Many walkers don’t hear cyclists coming, and surprises can be dangerous. A friendly “on your left,” “coming up behind,” or a bike bell ring can prevent an accident. Slowing down slightly will also give the walker and dog more time to react to your warning.
  • Give dogs extra space when passing by. Many dogs react fearfully to sudden movement, resulting either in aggressive or panicked behavior (the dog may lunge/snap or back out of its collar). Slowing down and going wide around dogs and walkers can prevent these kinds of reactions.
  • Avoid excessive speed on shared trails.

Need more behavior help?

If you have additional questions about your dog's behavior, contact our behavior pet helpline. For more helpful tips and resources for training and managing your pet's behavior, you can also visit our behavior resource library

Contact Behavior Helpline