June 21, 2018
Sometimes we want to take our dogs on the road, but we’re not using a car and most dogs aren’t going to be able to keep up on long bike rides. That’s where picking up a dog bike trailer can make all of the difference.
Of course, with so many of them on the market, it can be something of a pain to ensure that you pick up the one that best suits your own riding style, terrain, and needs.
Which is why we’ve gone out of our way to ensure that you end up with only the best. So let’s get right into it, and we’ll help you snatch up a great way to go on long rides without having to worry about the safety of your dog.
Who Needs a Dog Bike Trailer?
If you’re uncertain if you want one of these handy little trailers, think about some of the following:
- Your dog isn’t quite there when it comes to running alongside your bike. Not all dogs have the training or discipline which is required to run alongside their master during a bike ride. No need to let that preclude you from bringing your canine companion on biking adventures, however.
- You may also ride further than your dog can keep going. This is probably the biggest reason why people love dog bike trailers: you don’t need to leave your dog behind while you’re on the trail or road.
- If your dog doesn’t like serious exercise but loves to tag along then you’re in luck. This is often the case with short-nosed breeds, who simply overheat too quickly for a serious run, but there’s no excuse to leave them behind.
- Older dogs, or sick ones, often won’t be able to tag along but they still want to get outdoors for a while. If your dog just isn’t able to keep up due to issues with aging or illness, then you’ll want to pick one up so they can still get out in the fresh air.
Serious biking enthusiasts can often outrun even the most energy-filled dogs, and if that’s the case for you, then you should seriously consider picking up a dog bike trailer. In our research, we found this was the biggest reason people looked for trailers.
After all, even if your dog can make it part of the way with you: why not let them come along for the whole ride. Every dog deserves his day.
What to Look for in a Pet Bike Trailer
You’re going to want to keep all of the following at the front of your mind while you’re getting ready to hit the road with your favorite pup.
Sizing and Capacity
Depending on how large your dog is… well, they need to fit in the trailer for it to be of any use for you. That means that it’s important to check the base size of the trailer before you find the perfect one.
There are a ton of trailers sizes out there. We find it’s best to get your dog to sit down on a folded towel of the same size as the trailer you’re looking at in order to ensure that you’ve got one of the right sizes for your dog. You may even want to let them lay down if you’re planning on really extensive journeys.
Just as important is weight capacity. If your dog weighs more than the weight capacity, then you’re going to just end up with a busted trailer in short order.
We find it’s best to go a bit overkill in this respect, in order to ensure that you have more than you need if you hit a bump in the trail.
Check on how the trailer attaches to your bike before you make a final decision.
Find a model that will be easy to hook up to your bike for the best results. Some trailers are much more of a pain to get on and off than others.
Another big thing to look for is a secondary safety. Even something as simple as a strap can save your dog from doing a reenactment of Toad’s Wild Ride if the worse were to happen and the bracket or coupler were to break during a ride.
Let’s face it, attaching a trailer of any sort to your bike and going for a ride isn’t going to make your bike handle any better.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to prevent you from still having a good time on your ride either, or completely compromise the safety of your ride.
Instead, you’ll want to look for something which has multiple axes on the hitch and fits relatively snugly against the back wheel for the best handling. Remember a bike trailer needs to be able to move both up and down, and side to side but a model which can twist as well is going to be better all around.
A trailer which is built better has two important advantages:
- It’s overall a much safer way to transport your pup around. A trailer which falls apart can lead to disaster in a hurry, for both you and your animal.
- They last longer. If a trailer costs 50% more but lasts three times longer… it’s probably a good buy as long as you have the initial budget to purchase it.
All of the trailers we’ve selected are solid enough to be safe, but some are just going to last longer than others.
How your dog gets in and out of a trailer is a big concern for many of us.
While backloading trailers are easier, they’re not quite as safe. For smaller dogs, this is a bit less of a concern but if your dog is over 20lbs or so then spend the time to make sure you’ve got a trailer which allows for front or side loading.
Sideloading models, in particular, have an extra use: if your dog is going to be running part of the way you can leave them undone, taking care not to drag them on the ground, and quickly fasten them while you’re at a stop.
Some pet trailers fold down for much less storage space being taken up.
This is important even if you’re not particularly short on space, because even a small dog trailer is going to take up a considerable amount of room in your garage. Some people “solve” this issue by storing them in the backyard, but in most climates, that’ll just to a faster degradation of the dog trailer.
No need for things to get sun-faded too quickly, and over time UV light will cause serious damage to even the toughest materials.
So, unless you’re willing to put up a considerable amount of space in the garage, you should look for one which folds down easily.
You’ll want pockets on the outside of the trailer.
Trust us on this, no need to take up space in your backpack or on your bike’s cargo rack for the extra water and food you’ll need to carry for longer journeys with your animals.
Depending on the size, you may even be able to get some extra stuff for you in there as well. It’s a quality of life feature which many people seem to forget about when they’re picking out their trailer.
Some trailers have a bit of extra use. They may convert to a dog stroller or cart for instance.
We took a look at some of these and found that if they don’t compromise the quality of the cart too much then they can be pretty useful.
We didn’t list any, but there are definitely some cheaper ones out there you’d do your best to avoid.
Internal dividers are something people either love or hate.
For those who want to carry two small dogs in a medium sized trailer, for instance, they’re pretty awesome. They can also let you hold items on one side while you’re out shopping or riding a trail and the dog safely on the other.
Otherwise, you’re not going to get much use out of them and some can be a pain to operate around.
Best Bike Trailers for Large Dogs
All of the following are well suited for dogs who are a bit on the large side. Keep in mind even the best dog bike trailer isn’t going to carry something like a mastiff. Some of them get pretty big, however.
Since the most important category for any bike trailer is the weight capacity and internal cabin size we’ll list those first before we talk about the rest of the things which might be of importance to the rider.
Burley Tail Wagon
Cabin Size: 30”x29”
Weight Capacity: 65lbs
Of all of the large dog trailers we took a close look at, the Burley Tail Wagon stood out by far as the best on the current market. It’s rugged build and extra features put it head and shoulders above the competition.
While it doesn’t come with its own internal leash, there’s a good leash holder as well. This vital safety feature shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly if you’re riding anywhere it gets bumpy. The tailgate comes with extra pockets, and it has a removable floor for easy cleaning when you’re done with the ride.
It also comes with a 2-in-1 cover, keeping your pet out of the weather or rolling up to allow for awesome air flow as you go down the road to keep them cool, and all of the necessary safety features required while you’re on the road with your best friend.
Add in the quick-release, 16” tires and the fact that it folds down for easy storage and I’d say we’ve got ourselves a winner.
Our opinion: There are quite a few good large dog trailers out there, but we’d say that none of them can really compare to the Burley Tail Wagon on every front. It’s simply the doggone best.
- Extremely durable construction
- Comes with the necessary safety features
- Folds down quite small
- Most of the recommended extra features
- Rather expensive
- Rear-loading, while sometimes convenient, isn’t the safest
DoggyRide Novel Dog Bike Trailer for Pets
Cabin Size: 31.5”x21”
Weight Capacity: 110lbs
There are two versions of this great dog trailer better, but our personal favorite is the one that comes with the cargo rack on top. Due to the larger capacity of this trailer, compared to many of our favorites, this actually makes the cargo rack quite useful since it really isn’t going to be able to fit a dog which hits 110lbs.
Even the rack-less version has an impressive amount of cargo space, however, as well as allowing for you to carry more stuff than you can with nearly any other dog trailer right from the outset.
One of our favorite parts, however, is that it converts easily into a stroller with an easily purchased kit.
Overall, it’s a tough and durable trailer that’s sure to last for years if you treat it right.
Our opinion: For those with the intent of being to go the extra mile, or ten, the DoggyRide Novel Dog Trailer is a fantastic choice. Just be aware you’ll pay for it.
Rage Powersports Pull-Behind Dog Bicycle Trailer
Cabin Dimensions: 29”x20”
Weight Capacity: 85lbs
It’s not the best game in town, but if you’re looking to stretch your dollar and still end up with a great bike trailer, then you’ll probably be interested in this one. It’s got a roomy cabin and a high enough weight capacity for almost any dog, and in addition to that, it has the added advantage of a square cabin for dogs who’d like to sit at the front or the back of the trailer.
It also has 20” pneumatic tires, which help out quite a bit since they conform well enough to ride on slightly rougher surfaces like gravel trails.
It folds down quickly and easily as well, making it one of the easiest to store once it’s been broken down.
One of our favorite features? You can ride with the top unzipped, allowing your dog to get some air while the two of you go on your trek.
Other than that, it’s a pretty standard affair, however, but it does come in at about a third of the cost of most of the competition, which definitely makes it an attractive option for many people.
Our opinion: While there’s nothing particularly special about this dog trailer, it’s definitely worth it for the amount it costs. Pick it up if you’re on a tight budget and you won’t be disappointed.
- Budget priced
- Top opening window
- Universal hitch fits most bikes
- Square cabin allows for more room for your dog
- Lacks some special features that are almost essential
- Not suitable for harsh weather
Solvit HoundAbout Pet Bicycle Trailer
Cabin Dimensions: 33”x22”
Weight Capacity: 110lbs
If a roomy square cabin is what you’re looking for then you’re in luck. The HoundAbout has a very roomy interior, allowing sitting space for all but the most massive of mutts. There’s a lot to be said for this one when it comes down to it.
The first thing we noticed was the price. It’s very well priced overall, although it might be stretching the budget a bit for some. We also found that it was probably the easiest of the trailers to put together right out of the box, which makes a big difference for those without technical inclination.
It’s also extremely sturdy, surpassing all but our favorite in that category.
That’s not to say it’s without issues. It’s not particularly maneuverable, so if high speeds are you and your dog’s thing then you may want to give it a pass. It also sits weird on bikes with larger tires than 26”, causing a slant which can be quite uncomfortable for the dog to ride at.
You can also purchase a stroller kit for this one, allowing you to walk your dog in it as well as going for a good ride.
We’re also particularly enamored of the cargo-style pockets at the top. While most dog trailers have pockets, these are just a step above and beyond.
Our opinion: For those looking for a square cabin for their larger dog, this is the way to go. Just be aware of its limitations before you commit.
Best Small and Medium Sized Dog Bike Trailers
Of course, you’re not out of luck if you’re looking for something a bit smaller. These trailers have the advantage of being smaller and, as a general rule, better handling than their larger counterparts. If you’re looking for something for your smaller dog, then you’ll find all of the following to be good choices.
DoggyRide Mini Dog Bike Trailer
Cabin Size: 21”x 16”
Weight Capacity: 55lbs
Of all of the smaller trailers we looked at, this was definitely our favorite. It’s got a small interior cabin that boasts enough weight capacity that even the pudgiest of pugs will have no trouble riding along with you.
The hitch is relatively small, making it more maneuverable than any of the large dog trailers we looked at as well. In addition to that, you can pop open the sunroof to let your dog stick their head out and enjoy the ride as you go.
There’s even a protective rain and windscreen which you can drop down over the front window, just in case the weather takes a turn for the worse while you’re out riding. There’s a water bottle pocket as well, allowing you to easily carry some extra water for the dog.
You can also easily convert it to a stroller if you want to purchase the kit, increasing it’s already versatile use.
Our opinion: Overall, this serves as the best of the small bike trailers we looked at. It’s sturdy, handles well, and has just enough extra features to make it stand out from the competition.
Best Choice Products 2 in 1 Pet Dog Bike Trailer
Cabin Size: 23”x 27”
Weight Capacity: 66lbs
If you want an out-of-the-box 2-in-1 then we’ve got what you’re looking for. This sturdy, albeit heavy, bike trailer functions as a stroller without the need for an extra purchase. It’s not without a few drawbacks, but let’s talk about the good stuff first.
Right out of the gate it comes with all of the safety features you need, including reflectors, a visibility flag, and a handbrake. It’s also priced for those on a budget, especially since a stroller or bike trailer could both easily cost more than this 2-in-1.
The extra versatility straight out of the box is the big draw though.
As for the drawbacks: it’s not quite as sturdy as the manufacturers would have you believe. The biggest problem though is its weight, coming at 37lbs its a bit of a mule, even before you add the dog or any cargo you’re planning on hauling.
It also handles like it’s a bit bigger than it is.
Our opinion: On the other hand, if you’re looking for versatility and a great price, then you’ll be quite pleased with this 2-in-1. Give it a shot, you can save a lot of money if you were planning on getting a stroller as well.
Schwinn Rascal Pet Trailer
Cabin Size: 31”x 24”
Weight Capacity: 50lbs
If you want to save some money on your small dog trailer, and still get a great value, then you’ll be quite pleased with the Schwinn Rascal. Dollar-for-dollar you won’t be able to find anything better, and that’s a good bargain if you ask us.
It starts out with a great ability to fold down to about 3” tall. This makes it easy to store and great for those who are short on space, and who isn’t these days?
The thing we liked the most was the included non-slip pad on the bottom. This will keep your dog from sliding around too much in case of emergency stopping or turning. On top of that, the overall build-quality is simply fantastic.
Made by Schwinn, the rascal is also one of the easiest to connect and disconnect of all the trailers we took a look at. Even the non-technically inclined should have no issues getting it on and off.
Its main disadvantage is that it can’t quite compare to some of the more expensive options on the market and there’s no stroller kit available for it.
Our opinion: On the other hand, since it was made by a bike company, Schwinn offers an incredible value at a low price when it comes to their bike trailers. Who’d have thought?
Necessary Safety Equipment for Your Dog Trailer
There are some necessary extras you need to make sure you have before you’re really ready to hit the road. All of the following really is required, especially if you’re riding on the roads instead of a trail.
- Reflectors-Even in situations where it doesn’t seem particularly low light you should have both front and back reflectors on the trailer. Placed out to the sides they give other cyclists and cars a good view of where you’re at. These are relatively easy to find if your favored trailer doesn’t have them.
- Safety Flags-Since trailers sit so low compared to your bike a safety flag is a great way to give motorists a heads up. These are easy to find if your favorite trailer doesn’t come with them from the outset.
- Safety Straps-Few trailers come with these, but you should look into finding some. If your trailer’s hitch breaks then you’ll be able to keep it under control and close to your bike.
- Parking Brakes-Brakes are usually integrated with the trailer although we couldn’t find a real aftermarket solution. These will keep the trailer where it’s at when you’re seated, since you can get a surprising amount of roll with the bike and trailer’s weight added together.
- D-Rings for Leashes-It’s important to make sure that you use your leash holder whenever possible. For the most part, they’re there to keep the dog from jumping out, but during an emergency, it’ll also make sure your dog is in the trailer. All of the trailers we reviewed had these to one degree or another.
- A Helmet-Bike riding, even for experienced riders, can be a hazardous affair. You never know what might jump out at you on the road and a helmet can render a dangerous collision into a relatively harmless one. This is doubly important since a trailer means you can’t drop the bike if you get in trouble.
Safety Tips for Your New Dog Bike Trailer
Riders who haven’t used any kind of trailer before are often shocked to see just how much their mobility on the road is reduced. You’re also reduced to using the brakes and relatively broad turns as a way to get out of trouble instead of the normal evasive riding like skidding to a stop.
For that reason, we recommend that you take things slow. When you first begin you’re likely to want to just hop on and get a move on with your dog. Instead, assemble the trailer and attach it.
Ride around your driveway or somewhere safe, with the trailer unloaded, of course, you’ll quickly find the following to be of benefit:
- You’re going to need more room to stop. Bike trailers add quite a bit of weight, but not a lot of extra drag, make it a habit to slow down more early than you normally would.
- Keep it slow to start with. This will make turning easier and also allow you to get used to the braking process. You probably want to keep slower than your normal pace as well, just to make sure you and your pup are safe.
- Keep your initial trips short. Even an avid cyclist might find the weight of a pup and trailer will make them more tired than just the bicycle.
- Keep it smooth. Seriously, even if you’re a superb mountain biker and just want to hit a mild trail neither your puppy nor you are going to appreciate the consequences.
- Make sure your dog is buckled up. Any kind of quick action is going to throw them around, and you never know when your mutt might see a squirrel or fascinating tidbit on the ground to chase after.
Getting Your Dog Trailer Ready
Most dogs aren’t going to be ready to just hop in the trailer and get going.
Start slow. Assemble the trailer and encourage your dog to check it out. Some might be a bit wary, but open a flap and just see how it goes.
Even if they seem wary, give them some mild encouragement to get in. Give them a lot of “good boys” and treats the closer they get to it.
At this point, you may want to toss their favorite treat in through the flap. The majority of dogs will go just about anywhere for their favorite treat, and once they’re in give them a lot of praise and encouragement and maybe another treat or two.
Don’t push too hard, if it takes a few tries then so be it. You want them to associate the trailer with having a good time.
Strap them in once they’ve gotten used to it. Try pulling the trailer around a little bit just to see how they react to it. Some dogs will love it right from the outset, others will hate it. If your dog falls into the latter category then don’t push them too hard.
Once they’re no longer anxious about the whole affair you can take things further and begin by hooking it up to your bike.
Hopefully, you’ve already figured out how to ride with the trailer – but start slowly either way.
Start slowly, up and down the driveway or just around the block and see how your dog reacts to the whole thing. Remember that forcing your dog into situations where they’re anxious is just going to make things worse overall and it will take them much longer to get acquainted.
Once they’re comfortable with that, it’s time to go for a real ride with your pup. Truth is, most dogs will learn to love it pretty quickly and any dog with a large sense of adventure will quickly grow to appreciate their trail time.
There’s no need to leave your dog at home when you’re going on biking trips. With a dog bike trailer, you can go just about anywhere, anytime, as long as you have your bike and your canine companion hooked up it’s time for new adventures.
Remember, safety first, but once the two of you get used to it it’s going to be a lovely journey and something that both of you quickly grow to appreciate.
So why not pick one up today? They’re a great way to spend even more time with your buddy.