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Have Dog, Will Travel

Have Dog, Will Travel

Motorcycle Touring With Man's Best Friend

Ever wish you could combine your favourite pastime with your canine companion? We've got the complete guide right here.



Man’s and woman’s best friend. Who wouldn’t want to share their favourite pastime with their bestie? Just because they have four legs, bad breath, and no opposable thumbs doesn’t mean they can’t come along for the fun. Plus, for them riding a motorcycle is way better than just sticking their head out a car window!

There are many means by which Rex can ride with you:

The Doggie Sandwich


@wobblycat on Instagram

The Carrier Pillion


@glen_shifted on Instagram

The Sidecar Dog


@uralmotorcycles on Instagram

The Tank Dog

@rockstorephotos on Instagram

The Hugger


CarolinaCamera on YouTube

But like taking any passenger on a motorcycle, the responsible rider/owner must ensure their pooch’s safety and comfort. The key is to take baby steps over multiple sessions, just as in any other training. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Make sure she is comfortable around running motorcycles. For Sadie, this was natural because she would love to come greet me coming home from a ride. If you want to be deliberate about it, just bring your dog to your bike, make it fun, and give lots of good treats. Then start the motorcycle with her around, praise and treat.
     
  2. To make her comfortable as a passenger, hold her while you are sitting on the bike, then praise and treat. Then do the same on a running motorcycle.
     
  3. Eye protection: You wouldn’t ride without it, so neither should your dog. We use Doggles, made specifically for dogs, but there are other options like Rex Specs as well. We started by letting Sadie sniff the headgear, then eventually we put it on her and gave her lots of praise and treats.
    (Pro Tip: Make sure you know how to put the eye protection on properly! For example, with Doggles, it was a bit confusing since the straps create two loops: One that goes behind the head and another that goes under the chin. It took us a while to figure that out! Then on car rides, we would let her stick her head out the window as usual, and then we put on her doggles and let her stick her head out. Praise and treat. Sadie took to wearing them right away, as she immediately understood that they block the wind from her eyes and made her more comfortable.)
     
  4. Now that the foundation has been laid, we took her on a ride! Make sure the first few rides are short and low speed (not too slow that you’re wobbling). Praise and treat when you return. We made a Doggie Sandwich (see above photos) to begin with, so we could secure her. We put on her body harness, and used a short leash to connect her to the rear passenger by looping the leash around the person.

After she was comfortable with the Doggie Sandwich, we tried the Tank Dog. I put a grippy pad on my tank so Sadie could hold on better and also to protect the tank from claw scratches. (I just used the sticky mesh fabric used to line cupboards because we had extra. @electricterry uses a dog bed on his tank for his husky, Charger.) Again, she took to it very quickly! Before long, she loved standing up to smell the air, and leaned into the corners! 

Now that you know how to transition your dog to a passenger, you’ll be packing dog treats along with your own snacks for your rides!

Resources

Ron did several trips with Suzi from Toronto to PEI and back! He has a great detailed writeup on how he and Suzi prepared for these trips which I consulted when I started on riding with Sadie.

Eye Protection

Wait, is it legal to ride with a dog in Ontario?

In Ontario, there is no provision for pets in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). However, if a police officer feels the motorcycle is being operated in an unsafe manner, they  may opt to charge the rider with "crowding the driver's seat (HTA section 162), and/or "careless driving" (HTA section 130). While the author feels it is not inherently unsafe to ride a motorcycle with a dog, it is the rider's responsibility to exercise good judgement and caution to ensure a safe and fun ride for both.

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