10th November 2016. When you strap on your helmet, lace up your shoes, and pedal out on your bike, do you ever find yourself feeling a bit lonely? Sure, exercise and fitness aren't all about being social. However, sticking to the same routine over and over can turn into monotony. That's the enemy of an intense exercise routine. As soon as you start to feel bored, you might begin to skip important activities. On your bike rides, you've probably seen plenty of people running with their dogs. Perhaps you've even seen some other cyclists pedal past you with their dogs running beside them. Have you thought about whether you should take your dog out with you when you cycle? It can be a good way to have more fun while you exercise, and of course, it has benefits for man's best friend, too. However, before you leash up your animal companion and head out, there are some things to consider. As with any change to your routine, there are pros and cons to each side of the equation. Before you can decide that biking with your dog is right for you, it's best to consider these points. We'll look at both the ups and downs of biking with dogs. We'll also lay out some helpful tips about cycling with dogs. So, what's in the "Pro" column?

The Positives of Biking with Canine Companions

  1. Challenge
Of the principal advantages is the increase you'll experience in the challenge of your bike ride. If boredom pros-and-cons-of-cycling-with-your-dog-keeping-pacekeeps you from reaching your full potential while biking, having a dog running alongside you will change that in a hurry. You must pay extra special attention to where you're going, where your dog is going, and your surroundings. Sometimes it can be a challenge to match pace with your dog, too. All of this adds up to create a more challenging ride that will force you to improve your skill at cycling.
  1. Encouragement
Sometimes, we all find it a little difficult to saddle up and go for our ride. Even when we set goals for ourselves, striving to meet them sometimes requires a willpower for which we just lack the energy. After a tough week, though, nothing is quite so encouraging as your dog's excitement to go running. Having your dog with you as you cycle is an excellent way to stay motivated. Not only will your dog want to run more, but he may even set the pace for you sometimes! Bonding with your pet through cycling will keep your interest level high.
  1. Fun
Let's face it: it's simply a pure pleasure to watch dogs enjoying themselves. Not only will your pet be having a blast running while you bike, but you'll enjoy yourself, too! Having fun is a big key to unlocking better fitness. When you engage with your activity on a deeper level, as you will with this kind of activity, you're better able to push for gains.
  1. Exploration
Cycling with your dog also creates an opportunity for exploring a wider area. Rather than cycling the same pros-and-cons-of-cycling-with-your-dog-parkboring route repeatedly, you can challenge yourself to find new places to bring your pet. Is there a dog park in cycling distance of your home? Take your dog for a brisk ride, then cool down while your pet socialises with other animals. After you've both had a rest, it's time to cycle back home. It's like having the social benefits of a cycling club all wrapped up in one furry package.
  1. Improved Pet Health
Finally, cycling with your dog is an excellent idea if you find they consistently have tonnes of excess energy. If your vet says it's okay for your dog to run while you cycle, it's likely to be a significant benefit to their health. Improving heart health in dogs works much the same way it does in humans ? regular exercise that elevates the heart rate equals improved cardiac wellness. Benefitting your health and your animal's is simple with cycling. When you combine this with all the other benefits, it's easy to see why so many people choose to take their animals along.

Don't Forget to Consider the Downsides, Too

  1. The large time investment
Dogs aren't born knowing how to run alongside a bicycle; in fact, it's quite a different skill from accompanying a jogger. In fact, some dogs ? maybe even yours ? will view bikes as prey, kicking off their chase instinct. Dogs showing aggression towards bicycles need extensive training to break them of the habit. You may not have the time or the energy to pour into making your dog comfortable with cycling. While it can certainly be worthwhile, it may also be too much of a long-term solution to your short-term enthusiasm gap.
  1. The need for special equipment
Imagine the difficulty of trying to hold onto a leash while pedalling and balancing on your bicycle. It's pros-and-cons-of-cycling-with-your-dog-tow-leashquite a challenge! While you can try to ride this way, it's neither safe nor effective. Instead, you will want to invest in a bike attachment that adds an anchor for connecting a lead, keeping your dog anchored to you, but at a safe distance and without any tangling hazards. For some cyclists, this could represent a financial requirement too large to be feasible. However, for the safety of your animal, it's money you will need to spend.
  1. The increased risk of safety hazards
Speaking of safety, you'll need to be extra alert while cycling with your dog. For example, you'll need to pay very close attention to the ground. Steep terrain or sharp objects could injure your dog's paw pads. Even something as simple as the weather being too hot can mean your dog risks burning its feet on hot pavement. When you take all these additional issues into consideration, it means your bike ride is not so simple anymore. For those who like just to hop on and go, it may not be worthwhile.
  1. Distance can be an issue
Dogs have limits just like humans do ? but sometimes, those limits aren't the same. If you're comfortable pros-and-cons-of-cycling-with-your-dog-too-tiredwith biking several kilometres every day, it can be frustrating when you need to scale back. Your dog may simply not have the fitness or ability to run so far, though. Add to that the need to stop and provide your pet with water once or several times, and it's difficult to keep your heart rate at the right level. That means less effective exercise. If you aren't willing to pull back on distance ? even temporarily ? cycling with your dog isn't for you.
  1. It can be a distraction from fitness goals
Ultimately, your goal with cycling likely involves improving your ability and health. Structuring a routine and sticking to it takes a lot of practice and effort. For some, throwing a dog into the mix simply won't work. It can lead to reduced fitness gains and an overall lack of focus on important goals. Having fun while you exercise is certainly important. Nonetheless, the fun cannot be a distraction from the hard work of improving your body. If you can't balance your fitness needs with the tasks necessary to equip your dog for cycling with you, it's probably best to avoid the practice altogether. Instead, focus on redoubling your efforts and finding other ways to make cycling more exciting again. Try a Trial Run and See How Your Dog Does Although it can indeed present difficult challenges to overcome, biking with your dog can be a rewarding experience. Make sure to speak to your dog's regular veterinarian before you begin, though. Once you receive medical clearance that your dog is okay to handle the exercise, you can strap on your safety gear. If you have the time and patience, try acclimating your dog to your cycling routine. It can take time ? especially if your dog doesn't like bikes ? but the result is lots of fun. Soon, your dog might be more excited to go out than you! Of course, it's also important to consider the times when it's better to refocus on your own habits. If your dog can't handle cycling with you, maybe a friend will ride with you. Always consider your options. Choose the one that's best for you, your fitness, and your pet.