If you have been bicycling long enough, chances are that you have been chased by a dog. In towns and suburban areas, dogs are common and many are not leashed despite leash laws. In some instances, dogs on their owner’s property will chase you if they spot you spinning by the property.
Dogs are descendants of predators that would chase down prey and have retained that trait. If you cycle by their turf, then you are no more than a passing deer, raccoon, or other animal threatening their territory. So what should you do when a dog threatens you while you are on a bicycle and avoid critical cycling mistakes that could lead to a serious injury?
How to Deal With Aggressive Dogs While on a Bicycle Ride
- Out-sprint the dog. Depending on the breed and physical condition, many dogs are capable of running 15 to to 30 miles per hour for a short distance (greyhounds can go 45 mph). If you are able to do so, gear up into higher resistance and sprint away and hope there isn’t a hill looming just ahead or a busy intersection. Sprinting away, though, can be dangerous since you are engaging in the very activity that attracted the dog and you may not have enough time to get away and you may lose control of your bike if you hit a slippery or gravelly surface. You may also be on a bike trail where sprinting is out of the question. However, if you can sprint, then in many cases the dog will stop chasing you after less than a minute.
- Stop the bike and get off. Not all of us are conditioned for a fast sprint or in a spot where that is possible, or even have a bike capable of doing so. Many observers recommend that you stop and get off the bike while keeping it between you and the dog while avoiding eye contact and keeping your hands down at your side. Stopping may be enough to calm the dog down or make it bored enough to leave since you are no longer engaged in a game or acting as prey. Walk slowly away and get back on your bike when the dog is a safe distance away.
- Use your water bottle. One suggestion is to use your water bottle to spray the dog in the eyes. This can be tricky if you are riding but if the dog is close enough, you should be able to spray its eyes and give you time to sprint away.
- Get a dog horn or pepper spray repellent. Bike shops or at least Amazon will carry a small dog horn or dog spray repellent. A short blast from the horn should be enough to deter the dog. Because of extremely sensitive hearing, dogs will think it sounds like a nuclear explosion. Some pepper spray repellents can be effective from 10 feet away so spraying towards the dog’s face should be sufficient and allow you to get safely away.
- Ride straight at the dog. If the animal is in front of you and it looks menacing, ride hard and straight at it and the dog should move out of the way. You may risk having it chase you so be sure you have a long enough distance to sprint.
- Carry rocks with you. It does add some weight to the ride, but having a few chunks of stone that are aimed at and plunk off the dog’s head should be enough to persuade the dog to stop the chase.
- Yell. If you yell “Stop” or “Go home” in a loud voice, it may be enough to deter the dog. Many dogs are trained to obey such commands.
- Play stick. Stop and get off your bike and if you see a stick nearby, grab it and throw it as far as you can and see if the dog will chase it. This may be a good strategy if riding in the woods on a trail. If no sticks are around, then merely getting off and keeping the bike between you and the dog may be enough.
- Do not kick at the dog. One of the most crucial cycling mistakes you can make while evading a dog is to try and kick the dog while cycling. All you are doing is slowing yourself down and risking a fall. You are also putting your foot in the dog’s face, which presents an appetizing target.
- If you are being attacked. Should you find yourself on the ground with the dog biting you, keep your fingers rolled up and protect your face and throat. If you can, punch the dog in the nose . Should you have a shirt or sweatshirt on, roll your arms back and try to get the dog to latch onto the sleeve and let it slip off of you. It may distract the dog long enough for you to find a place of safety.
Consult a Bicycling Accident Attorney at West, Longenbaugh & Zickerman
Getting bitten or attacked by a dog can be serious. There are over 4.5 million dog attacks each year in the US with 850,000 resulting in a hospital or emergency room visit. Dog bite laws in Arizona hold dog owners strictly liable if you are attacked, meaning that you need only show that you were attacked and that the dog belongs to the defendant, though there are some exceptions. Call an experienced bicycling accident attorney at our office today at (520) 790-7337 for an in-depth analysis of your injury claim.