Americans spend about $18 billion annually on motorcycles, including new purchases and maintenance, according to the 2013 Leisure Market Research Handbook.
Dog owners spent about the same amount on their furry companions in 2012, making both industries more lucrative than video games, movies, and music combined. The fun part is figuring out how motorcycle owners can enjoy one of their favorite pastimes — motorcycle riding — with their four-legged friends.
Training your dog to safely go motorcycle riding is no more difficult than housebreaking or teaching them new tricks. It just takes a little preparation and a lot of patience.
Hang On Tight
Gary Miller is a North Carolina resident who took classes at Montgomery County Technical College to become a gunsmith years ago. He wanted to bring his Labrador/pitbull mix best friend simply named “Dog” with him to class everyday, but his only mode of transportation was a motorcycle.
Miller trained Dog to climb on the back of his bike and hold on to his shoulders just like a human passenger would. Dog learned to grip Miller’s shoulders tight after falling off the bike a few times while going around curves and hitting the brakes.
Of course this method will only work for dogs large enough to sit upright on the seat and strong enough to hold on. A better method would be to attach a sidecar to your bike where the dog can ride more safely.
The one absolute necessity for any dog riding on a bike is eye protection. A pair of swimming goggles or clear safety glasses with a strap will suffice just fine. If your dog is easily spooked by the loud noise of your motorcycle, consider replacing the exhaust system for a quieter ride. A nervous pooch and a moving motorcycle are not a good combination.
Smaller Dog Method
Beagles, Yorkies, and poodles are three of the most popular small dog breeds in the U.S., according to All Small Dog Breeds. All three are also great hunting companions, which makes them perfect for bikers who also love the outdoors. But they are too small to sit like a human on the seat, which is where the creativity comes into play.
A pet carrier is the simplest solution. Some prefer the front carriers which hold your dog in much the same way baby carriers work. Saddlemen makes vented cargo carriers specifically for smaller dogs. These units attached to the back of your bike and allow your dog to stick her head out and enjoy the ride or just curl up and lie inside. Another options is to wear a backpack carrier and unzip it just enough for his head to fit through.
Make sure your dog is strapped to the unit to prevent accidents. A harness and bungee cords work best for this.
Follow The Law
Retired dog trainer Jeremiah Gerbracht was issued a ticket by a Los Angeles police officer in October of 1995 for riding his motorcycle with his Siberian husky named Harley. Instead of paying the ticket, Gerbracht decided to challenge it in court, reports the LA Times.
California Vehicle Code 21712-A deemed it unlawful for a person to allow another person to sit on a moving motorcycle in a place not intended for passengers. A municipal judge dismissed the case four months later, ruling that the statute was written only to apply to persons and not animals.
Few states have laws that specifically address the issue of riding motorcycles with pets. Like the Gerbracht case in California, it will ultimately be a judgment call by police. But as long as the wording of motorcycle laws in your state do not specifically outlaw riding with your dog, it’s legal. Check the website for your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles just to be safe.