Introduction: Cycling Lead for Dogs

Picture of Cycling Lead for Dogs

My dog Lucky is half German Shepherd, and half Border Collie. His ancestors spent all day running around the hills, variously herding large flocks of sheep and protecting them from wolves.

Problem is, his energy levels are the same as his ancestors but there's no hills for him to run around and no sheep for him to guard. Two walks a day just don't cut the mustard. So how do I make sure he gets more structured exercise, whilst making sure he's safe?

Cycling is the only way I could keep up with Lucky over the sorts of distances that he'd like to cover, and it's something I really enjoy. Problem is if he was on a lead he might run into the bike, which would really hurt him, or pull me off the bike which would really hurt me. I could take him off the lead, but if he was distracted by another dog I might not be able to control him.
So I've made the cycling lead for dogs. It keeps him a fixed distance away from my bike, and because it's attached to the seat post it's much harder for him to knock me off if he pulls.

DISCLAIMER: This works for me and my dog really enjoys it, but that doesn't mean it's going to be right for you or your dog. I don't know anything about either of you, I'm just showing you what I've done. I'm not a dog or a bike expert. You are proceeding at your own risk, and these guidelines are provided on this basis.
If you're riding with a dog and he looks tired, stop. Don't try to go faster than him, and for god's sake don't drag him - you could hurt or even kill him.
Likewise, if you're not confident that you could control your dog when he's on a lead, don't ride with him on a bike! Lucky walks perfectly to heel on the lead, if he was difficult to handle I wouldn't have even though about this. Get advice from a professional.

Step 1: Ingredients

To do this you will need.

1. A dog (duh).
2. A working bike.
3. A redundant bike frame that you can cut into pieces. Lots of these lying around.
4. Short length of chain.
5. A pair of dee shackles.
6. A suitable harness for the dog. Collars are not a good idea for this project.


1. Hacksaw
2. Drill
3. Pliers

Step 2: The Knackered Frame

Picture of The Knackered Frame

Take the seat post out of the old frame, then use a hacksaw to cut the end of the top tube where it joins the head tube and the seat tube. You may also need to remove the chainstays.

You will be left with a tube that is plain on one end and still has the seatpost clamp on the other.

Drill a hole through the end of the tube and pass your dee shackle through the hole. Attach the chain to this, and tighten with the pliers.

Step 3: Attach to Bike

Picture of Attach to Bike

Take the saddle off your working bike, slip the end of your tube onto the seatpost, then tighten. Replace saddle at desired height. Slip the dee shackle through the hole you've drilled in the tube, and attach the chain to the dee shackle.

Step 4: Attach Chain to Dog

Picture of Attach Chain to Dog

Use the second dee shackle to fix your chain to the dog's harness. I had a chain with a clip at the end, but the photo should give you an idea. Cut any links that are smacking the dog as he runs along.
The chain should be short enough to stop the dog running sideways into your bike, but not so short the dog is being lifted off the ground.
UPDATE: After feedback, I just wanted to add a bit to say use a harness that fits around the dog's ribcage. Do not use a collar or anything that tightens when the dog pulls.

Step 5: Ride!

Picture of Ride!

Enjoy yourself! Start out with a run of just a couple of miles, and keep off the roads until you're both happy.


lumos2000 (author)2014-02-25

ahh I recognise those eyes from retrobike :)

Hello! I must get back on there. Started going a bit crazy in the end. Too many bikes and bits of bikes!

Hope you are well. :-)

jtmax24 (author)2012-08-24

Great work. I've been looking at ways to attach a dog to a bicycle or scooter that would be safe for them. Yours is pretty good. the only thing I would change is I would use a dog harness that doesn't put pressure on the neck, other than that it's really great. I've also been to which actually provides plans for building your own dog scooter attachments to scooters or bikes.

CJSudduth (author)2012-02-01

Couldn't you attach a kick stand instead of the extra attachment so when not in use you could push it in ???

That's a really good idea. Thanks! (:

greenfireflygirl (author)2009-07-09

I ride with my dog, using the leash that I walk her with, and the collar that I attach it to. I don't have a post hanging off my bike that would make other bike riders angry if they tried to chain their bike up beside mine in a bicycle rack, taking up all the room, and I didn't have to do more than a few seconds of work to set it up. Now, training the dog to run for me wasn't a problem, it was teaching her "go right" and "go left" that is taking the most time.

Here's a link to my flickr page and how I did it:

I like your don't try this at home line, perfect!!

Actually, the post just swings out behind the bike if you're not using it. You never know it's there. I am all for letting my dog run off the lead, but it's unquestionably dangerous if you're riding somewhere where there's other dogs or other cyclists. No dog is 100% reliable, and you can't predict the reaction other cyclists/drivers/walkers will have to a loose dog. Unfortunately, in some places you just can't let a dog run off its lead. Nice work with the training though!

Oh, I don't let her run off the lead, I use her leash looped around my seat post. Like you I find that you get the best control there, especially if a squirrel moves across your path. Your instructable is great, and certainly cheaper than the commercial solutions, but for me less is more. Smart to have it swing out of the way though, missed that part, I've tried to park beside someone before that had blocked off all of the rack that way, and how annoying is that?

That is INCREDIBLY dangerous. Seriously, if you have a lead dangling down by the back wheel and it gets caught it doesn't bear thinking about. The thing about my design is it keeps the dog and the dog's lead away from any moving parts of the bike. Hope I don't come across as saying something nasty or implying that you're not looking after your dog properly, I know that isn't true otherwise you wouldn't have been reading this! But I think your solution is really, properly dangerous. You could quite easily kill your dog doing what you're doing.

The leash doesn't dangle anywhere near the back wheel, it's attached to her, and while I've tried to get it caught in the bike, it just doesn't happen as long as it's clipped to her, I also don't ride with my pant legs taped up, and they've never been caught in the bike, they dangle a lot more, and a lot closer to the moving parts than the leash does. The fender on the back wheel does a good job of keeping the leash out of the wheel even when my dog switches sides. I like your design, it's great, but for me, it's just so much simpler to just put on the leash and go! Maybe someone else reading this will think I'm reckless, and hopefully you get a few people making your instructable, but unless I get hit by a car, or wipe out down an embankment or something like that, my dog won't be killed, or maimed, but thanks for caring!

susanrm (author)2009-07-08

Very nicely done. I invested in the Bikerdog for a couple of reasons: 1) It attaches to a lower point in the frame, which works better for smaller dogs (mine is 40 pounds) and makes it more difficult for the dog to drag you anywhere. 2) The rod is flexible and absorbs some shock. 3) The harness is designed to connect to the side. I'm really glad this method works for you! My one advice is - if anyone tries this method, be sure to introduce the bike to your dog gradually, walking your dog attached to the bike first in case they are afraid. It's taken some time, but my pit bull mix is finally happy to be able to pull the bike along.

I've never tried it on any other dog, but I can see how if your dog was shorter than Lucky there would eventually come a point where you had to mount it somewhere lower. I'm not aware of the Bikerdog. Where does it attach to the frame? I did consider attaching it to the braze ons for the rack on the chainstays, but decided against it because it would have been quite a lot of leverage, and I don't want to have to get them brazed back on. But you're absolutely right, lower would be better. If you had a more modern frame with compact geometry and you used my method, that would take the mounting point a lot lower. One thing I wouldn't agree with, though, is having a flexible rod (ooo er missus). Flex is not necessary, and could even be a disadvantage. But thanks for your comments. (:

Hey Chris, you can see the Bikerdog at The rod is a somewhat flexible plastic - that is, it's a polymer that is stiff for the most part, but has a bit of flex for shock absorption, but not enough to let the dog bend it at all. Not sure what the material is exactly.

Very interesting, but the lead is too long. It wouldn't prevent the dog running into the wheel, which could result in serious injuries to you and the dog. The whole point of my lead is it prevents the dog from running sideways into the moving parts of the bike. Still, an interesting link; thanks!

Sunny124613 (author)2008-07-17

My dog would be way too lazy and would probably get distracted by a cute Jack Russell:-)

Aw, bless!

yeah she is weird like that and then she would sniff the other Jack's butt for about 25 min!

bubblewrap74 (author)2008-07-13

I've always attached my dogs to my belt loops, as it's far more secure than handlebars, especially if the dogs are trained properly (mine are). Nonetheless I really like your idea! Just a question, how does the arm stay in place perpendicular to the bike? Doesn't it swivel around the seat post?

Cheers! I didn't explain it particularly well, but the binder bolt is still in place, along with a jubilee clip at t'other end of the tube. I set mine up so it doesn't turn freely, but can be pulled into place. It doesn't actually need to stay at a right angle to the rider, in fact it can't because you would catch your leg and move it from 90 degrees to about 80. While I accept it's not perfect, in practice, it's not a problem. I did think about mounting the bar to the pannier rack braze ons, where it would have been held solidly at 90 degrees. The bike above is a tourer, strong and heavy (stronger than most mountain bikes, in fact), but I was still worried about putting that kind stress on the chainstays and the rack mounts. It would probably would have been OK, but in effect it would have been acting as a lever against them, so still a risk.

Thanks. I'm not much on bike-speak so I assume you mean that the part the seat post goes through can tighten (using the old bike's hardware) around the seatpost and you would want to create an angle that was not perpendicular? I wonder if it would be worthwile to put a cotter pin through the seat post and through the frame of the old bike. Probably not since you might wreck the structural integrity of the seat post. Anyway, love this idea. Will be keeping my eye out in the alleyways for discarded bikes.

Fergie71 (author)2008-06-16

This is a great idea, but i'm sure my dog would end up killing me as soon as he saw a cat!


sniffydogs (author)2008-03-27

I exercise my dogs with this:
I rescue Bloodhounds, they outweigh me. This works great!

Yes, that's one of the products I saw. I wasn't happy with the quality of the commercial products out there, although I never saw this one for real.
I doubt this unit would be as strong as mine and an awful lot more expensive, but if you **must** buy something instead of make your own, I'm sure it's great.

GanngBanger 832 (author)2008-02-22

sorry my dog will jump in front

Not possible, unless he gets out of his collar. If he's going to try to, though, you shouldn't try this. Teach him to heel. It's a very useful thing for a dog to do, and not hard, if you're patient and consistent. Just remember, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. (-;

killerjackalope (author)2008-01-02

That's a pretty good Idea, there's a man that frequents one of the parks in belfast who made something similar for a shopmobility, he's quite old but he's funny and a bit mad, three alsations can apparently generate alot of speed for the shopmobility also it looks really cool like some kind of super dog/electric hybrid sled... The swingarm could also carry things when the dogs not on it or be an amusing weapon, think sideways bike jousting (with old scrappers of course)

Nice idea. As it's the new year, I'm going to try losing weight by attaching it to the front of my bike with a pie on the end of the chain. :-p Seriously, I quite like the idea of bike jousting- maybe someone fancies a try at a new version?

hmmm I reckon i have a few friends that would be willing to give bike jousting a go, the main worry I have is killing someone, having learnt from experiences that on a bike you can do serious damage to people that try to stop you (on my way home from work I go thorugh a bad neighbourhood) I put a guy in hospital because he wanted the bike and I didn't want to give him it. when you hit someone on a bike with intention it can be serious, granted I came off pretty rough aswell.

frogmeetcog (author)2007-12-20

I'm assuming you used a dumpster-condition bicycle for this progect? If one has no expendible bike frame for building stuff with, this could possibly be made with threaded steel pipe, adapted to the diameter of your seatpost...

The bike was one of several I had knocking about at home. Its headset, block, chain, front mech, brakes, cables and BB were all done for, so reusing it as a bike wasn't economically viable. The parts that were good (rear mech, chainset and wheels) were stripped off at a later date and will see service in a future project - watch this space! Bikes in this condition are very easy to find. Hang about at your local dump, you'd be amazed what people throw out just because it's old. Or you could contact a bike recycling programme, or join your local freecycle group. I would say a cheap, heavy plain guage frame steel frame would be much better for this project than one with butted tubes, or one made in more esoteric materials. I know it's a good project, but don't cut up your carbon fibre Trek to build it. :-p So in short, yes, you could use new materials to build this project, but it's only sensible if you've got something suitable lying around or you have money that's actually burning a hole in your pocket. Not sure why you'd use threaded pipe though. Let me know how you get on! (author)2007-09-23

Chris This looks really great. I think you've really got a great improvement on the existing things out there, and this will work great for many people. Personally though, I am too nervous to hook my dog to my bike in any way. I have been riding one-handed for 17 years (since I was 8), and I prefer to hold Riley's leash when we bike. I know this is not practical for many people, but I feel safer in the fact that I can drop her leash at a moment's notice if anything goes wrong. I have trained her to stay away from the front wheel of the bike at all times and if I drop her leash she will stop dead in her tracks and stay until I come back to her or call her. I also use a "prong" collar, which fits loose around her neck but will give her a pinch if the collar is tightened, much like an alpha wolf will nip at another wolf's neck to put him in place (the prongs are not sharp, and they only pinch, they don't seriously hurt the dog unless you missuse the collar). Riley is well-trained, but the collar acts as insurance in the case of a fluke or freak accident and she decides to take off. I would reccomend careful training for any dog that will be running along side of a bike, because it can be very dangerous. Even though I'll be sticking with my on-handed method, I again comend your awesome idea, and I think many people out there will find it to be just right for riding with their furry friends! I look forward to seeing more of your ideas in the future.

dacker (author)2007-07-08

I too see a need for some form of "break-away", but I can certainly understand your concern about it being too easy to release. How this for a compromise idea...? Instead of a hard connection at the dog's end of the tube, how about: 1 - Run a length of bungie cord down the length of the tube. 2 - Attach it near the seatpost via a small hole drilled thru the tube and fastened via a cotter pin or bolt/nut. 3 - Attach the short chain you show on the other end of the bungie. (Personally, I'd use 1" webbing or 0.375" nylon rope.) 4 - Optional? Fill the end of the tube with a wood/plastic plug which has a hole in the centre to keep the bungie from abrading on the edge of the tubing. This way, there is some give-and-take for both the dog and for the cyclist. Comments?

BlindTreeFrog (author)dacker2007-07-08

A length of chain bunched up/draped on the rod (think shower curtain when they are drawn open to let you into the shower) with a bump of some form at the end of the rod. Normal operation with a heeled dog shouldn't release the chain at all but if the chain is pulled on it would pull over the bump and drop the chain a chunk at the time. hopefully that made sense. Only down side I could see with bungie cord would be that it wouldn't give any indication that it was stretching until it's at the full stretch so you still get the jerk on the dog/bike

dacker (author)BlindTreeFrog2007-07-09

I see your point, but I would not want to rely on friction to do the job, plus, IIUC, once the chain is pulled out, it would not retract back into the tube.

Bulk bungee material is readily available in sizes from 3 to 12mm, or even larger. Each has its own resistance-to-stretch characteristics and could be sized to the size/weight/pull-strength/tendency to suddenly change direction of the dog. If a bungee were not enough you could double- or triple-up pieces, or move-up to rubber strap material. 3mm (and a tricycle) may be enough for a Chihuahua, but doubled-up 12mm may be needed for a young Lab.

For a stretch indicator, simply fastening a "jingle bell" to the bungee may be enough. Just fasten it so that it is pulled against the end of the tube or perhaps just inside the tube (if no cap is present). If the cord is stretched, the bell rings. If it rings so much you are driven nuts, move-up to the next size of bungie (or see if you have been dragging your dog the last half-mile!) <grin>

I can certainly see the merits of bungee cord as a material. I'll research what's available, and possibly incorporate it into a future version, although I suspect the stability of the bike could be adversely affected if the lead got much longer. I'm not keen on the idea of the lead getting permanently longer in any way, that would be very dangerous. The dog be able to run into the bike, with potentially disastrous results for dog and rider. At the speeds you should be going at with your bike connected to the dog (no more than 8-10mph, no faster than a running adult) I think the chances of the dog being injured if he stops suddenly are fairly slim. Lots of people have dogs on leads as a jogging companion, and I've never heard about a dog being injured if they stop and the runner carries on. The golden rule should be: You should always be able to stop quickly as soon as your dog does.

BlindTreeFrog (author)2007-07-08

Might be worth considering a break away link and a spool of light cord for about 20 feet incase the dog were to suddenly stop for whatever reason. That way you wouldn't go jerking on her neck and dragging her. Otherwise good idea.

Sorry, I should have made the third step clearer. I don't recommend using this with a collar. Use a harness, but not one of those ones that tighten around the dog's ribs when they pull. I thought about a breakaway link, but I was worried about it detaching too easily, and the dog running into the wheels of the bike (or traffic). Thanks for the feedback, I'll update the instructable.

That's why I was thinking of a spool with about 20 feet of cord. Something light enough that it isn't bulky but still strong enough that the dog can't snap it. That way if the dog does stop for whatever reason and the link breaks, you've got 20 feet (or 10 or whatever) to react before you pull on the dog or visa versa. Ultimately I'm sure that there are many ways to do this.

Mitten (author)2007-07-08

Doesn't that seem a bit dangerous? having the dog that close to the petals/chain/owwie hurtie stuff?

I've done a few hundred miles on it now, and at no point has Lucky come into contact with the bike. If he could, the chain would be too long.

NachoMahma (author)Mitten2007-07-08

. Not for a dog trained to heel. For an untrained dog, yes, it could be a disaster.

NachoMahma (author)2007-07-08

. That looks better than the commercials units I've seen! Fantastic!

Cheers! I built it precisely because the commercial ones didn't look solid enough to last.

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