Why Is My Dog Afraid Of Bikes? 4 Reasons Explained

by Stuart | Last Updated:   November 2, 2020
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If your dog has been showing some irrational fears when it comes to bicycles, do not panic. It might actually be more natural than you think.

If your dog is scared of bikes, it is most likely just being cautious rather than fearful. It could also be because your dog does not understand what the bike is.

That was just a short answer. In the following article, we will take an in-depth look at why your dog is fearful of bikes and what you can do about it. So, keep reading.

Dog who is not afraid of bikes sleeping next to one on the ground.

Why Your Dog Is Afraid Of Bikes

Sometimes our dogs can behave strangely and it leaves us wondering why they do that. They might be as brave as can be but then sometimes you can bring something as simple as a bicycle in front of them and they cower away. So why do they do this?

There are several reasons why your dog can be scared of bikes and this includes the following: They simply don’t understand what it is, they might mistake it for another animal that is larger than them, they could just be cautious and not actually scared, and finally, past events can be a factor

Let’s take a look at each of these factors in a little bit more detail.

1. They Don’t Understand What It Is

This could be the most common reason. See, as intelligent as our dogs can be, there are certain things that they don’t understand and this could cause them to be fearful.

Think of it as being fearful of the unknown.

At the same time, it could just be them being cautious of something that they don’t understand and we will actually cover that further down in the section.

2. They Mistake It For Another Animal

This is especially true for when a bicycle is moving fast. If a dog catches the bicycle in his eyesight, he might mistake it for an animal that is trying to flee away and that is often why dogs chase bicycles.

At the same time, if the bicycle is approaching the dog, and especially if it is a bigger bicycle, the dog might mistake it for an animal that is coming towards him or her.

This is when the fight or flight instinct of the dog will kick in.

3. They Aren’t Scared, They Are Just Cautious

It is easy to mistake a dog who is just being cautious of something as being scared. We need to understand that when you look at a dog in its basic nature it is a predatory and scavenging animal.

So, as a species, they have survived for thousands of years by being cautious.

This actually leads to an interesting point that I have noticed with a lot of dogs. I have noticed this with a lot of dogs and I am sure you have noticed this too.

Have you ever seen a dog bite the front wheel of a small bicycle with a small child on it? This is because, as cautious as the dog is for itself around a bicycle, they might also be trying to protect the children from it.

Dogs might not understand exactly what bicycles are and they tend to see them as dangerous objects. It can take a lot of experience riding in a bike basket for dogs to really get comfortable around bicycles.

4. Past Events

So, pretty much with any behaviour that a dog shows, it could be because of past events such as past traumas or even things that they enjoy doing.

People often underestimate the memory that a dog has but studies have shown that a dog can have memories from when it was still in its mom’s stomach.

So, even if nothing bad has ever happened to your dog specifically, there could have been events that happened with its mom. Or if your dog has ever taken a ride in a dog bike basket it may have been scary for them.

AT (Behavioral Adjustment Training) for dog’s fear of bicycle and (Unintentional) Trigger Stacking

Dog Training

  • The Emmy-winning host of “Lucky Dog”, Brandon McMillan is an expert trainer dedicated to building relationships between humans and animals. In his MasterClass, Brandon shares his simple, effective training system to help you develop trust and control with your dog.

What Causes A Dog To Be Fearful?

There are a lot of reasons why dogs can be fearful and it mainly has to do with genetics or past events. Because it could be genetic, there might not be anything that caused it.

There are certain breeds that are more fearful or cautious than others.

Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Scared Of Everything

This is a tricky one to answer, not even the scientists can give you a definite answer but there are a few theories flying around as to why dogs suddenly get fearful without provocation. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons.

  • The dog Might be experiencing pain that you do not know about. This causes them to be extra cautious.
  • A regressive memory might have surfaced.
  • The dog could be suffering from depression due to changes within the home or from separation anxiety.

What stands out for me the most is regressive memories and the fact that dogs can carry memories across with them from when before they were born.

It just baffles my mind.

What To Do If You Have A Fearful Dog?

Unfortunately, if your dog is fearful, they will probably remain fearful for the rest of their lives but that doesn’t mean that you should let that get in the way.

It is like having a child who is scared of heights, you are not going to go and throw your child off of a  building to get them over their fears.

So, you shouldn’t have to do that with your dog.

What you can do is take them for dog training and this should help you better control the dog’s fears.

I have actually had this experience where my dog, who, from the day we got him, seemed normal but as he got older, he started having a few irrational fears. With patience, we have managed to control his fears but we still don’t put him in any situations that might make him uncomfortable.[1] 

Is It Bad To Bike With Your Dog?

We have written an article about cycling with your dog. There are ways to go about it and there are ways to not go about it you can find that in this post: Is cycling with your dog cruel?

The bottom line of that article was basically: Don’t drag your dog, make sure that the leash has enough slack, don’t go too fast, and make sure that you take enough breaks during the cycle. Also, remember to take water for the dog.

If you’ve attached a bicycle trailer for your dog but find they are apprehensive about getting in it, don’t force it. A dog can be so fearful of such a new experience that it can actually be traumatizing for them.

Conclusion

That brings us to the end of this article and for my closing point I would just like to say that if you do have a fearful dog just be patient with them and everything will work out but, in the end, don’t put them in any uncomfortable situations.


Personal experience with my dog Leo who is a Chow cross. It has taken over a year of patience to get him more comfortable with certain things.

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.