Our dogs, Oshi and Sasha are now about 10 years old. They’re only small, being a cross between Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso.
A couple of years ago the vet said not to take them for walks that were too long. Even though it’s only about 600 metres from our front gate to the start of the closest track to the beach I generally take the dogs down in the car or in their special bike trailer so we can maximise the fun, off-leash, part of the walk. After all, a return walk along the road adds 1.2 Km to the walk. Sometimes I take them to the other entrance, which is 900 metres away and gives us the opportunity to walk a different part of the beach.
The bike trailer was actually designed to hold children, but it works very well for the dogs. There’s a ‘well’ at the front for kids to put their feet in. I filled that space with an empty cardboard box. Over the whole floor I put a cheap foam mat to give the dogs a better surface for jumping in and for sitting or lying down.
The sides are clear plastic and there’s a sort of netting panel that folds down over the front and is secured with velcro. There’s a plastic cover that can go over the net if it rains, but I don’t bike in the rain so I keep it rolled up at the top.
Oshi generally stands or sits in the trailer, but Sasha’s more of a
just in time dog who will sit rather than stand and lie rather than sit. She doesn’t believe in expending more energy than necessary. In fact, when she and Oshi play chasing, that usually means Sasha stands in one place while Oshi rushes around her in circuits.
I taught the dogs an
all aboard command for jumping into the car or into the trailer, while
hoppity hop gets them out again. They obligingly wait for the commands, which gives me a chance to steady the trailer, as otherwise the bike can fall over. I also had to invest in a stand that holds the bike upright, even with the trailer attached.
On the rear axle of the bike is a hitch that’s bolted on. The trailer has an arm that slides over that hitch and is locked in position with a pin and also a safety strap (detached for the photo). The trailer arm also has a flexible section, as you can see in the photo.
The trailer itself weighs only around 5 Kg, and the two dogs together weigh another 15 Kg or so. That means that all up I’m towing around 20 Kg. It’s good exercise.
The other problem with small dogs is their ability to stay cool in warm weather. Our dogs don’t do too well when it’s warm or hot. Oshi, in particular, really feels the heat. The vet pointed out that dogs dissipate heat through their airway: nose, mouth, throat etc. These dogs don’t have the long snout of a fox terrier, though their faces aren’t as squashed in a pugs. Also, our dogs aren’t the kind that go swimming, so they have trouble keeping cool.
This summer has been so rotten — cool, cloudy, rainy — I’ve been able to take the dogs out for a walk pretty much any time of the day, but usually in summer we need to be home before 8 am or it’s just too hot for them. Biking them down to the beach also means they don’t start to heat up until we’re already at the more fun part of the walk.
I was uncertain when I bought it, but now I know the bike trailer was a great investment. Oshi and Sasha seem to love it too.