Ask A Trooper

Sgt. Jesse Grabow

Question: Can someone with a motorcycle permit have their small dog riding on the motorcycle or would that be considered a passenger? We have already purchased a helmet and leather jacket for this lucky pup! Thank you for your response.

Answer: First of all, where will this dog be seated and how? I see less issues if you are talking about a motorcycle side car or a motorcycle trailer equipped with a kennel. But if you are talking about on the actual motorcycle with you, I don’t think this would be very safe for you or your pet.

If you are going to carry a passenger, there are a few key items to keep in mind:

Equip and Adjust 

Your Motorcycle

• A passenger seat and footrests are required by law.

• Adjust tire pressure and suspension settings for the additional weight. (Do not exceed weight limitations specified in the owner’s manual.)

• Re-adjust mirrors.

Passenger Preparation

• Provide protective riding gear: eye protection, a DOT-approved helmet, boots, gloves, long riding pants and a high-visibility motorcycle jacket.

• Passengers under age 18 are required by law to wear a DOT-approved helmet.

• Small children are required by law to be able to reach both footrests with their feet while sitting on the passenger seat.

Getting On and Off 

the Motorcycle

• Start the engine before the passenger gets on.

• Squeeze the front brake while the passenger gets on or off the bike.

• Passengers should get off the bike before the operator.

Passenger Safety Tips

• Hold operator’s waist or hips, or motorcycle’s passenger hand-holds.

• Keep feet on footrests at all times, including while stopped.

• Keep hands and feet away from hot or moving parts.

• When turning, look over the operator’s shoulder in the direction of the turn.

• Avoid turning around or making sudden moves that might affect operation.

• If crossing an obstacle, rise off the seat keeping your feet on the foot pegs with knees slightly bent and allow legs to absorb the shock upon impact.

Operator Safety Tips

• A passenger will affect handling due to extra weight and independent motion.

• Braking sooner with greater pressure may be necessary.

• Use extra caution in a corner.

• Allow more time and space for passing.

• Be ready to counter the effects of wind.

• Avoid extreme speeds and dramatic lean angles.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205.  (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at,