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Encountering Dogs on Rural Roads

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Encountering Dogs on Rural Roads

Old 04-19-15, 09:06 PM
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rlsmith1994
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Encountering Dogs on Rural Roads

I have been riding on rural country roads in Illinois for a few years now, and have had several encounters with dogs. I know of four strategies, and have tried three:

1. Try to speed past the dog. This has only worked with little dogs. Big ones outrun me, and one even snipped at my leg. I've read this almost always doesn't work.
2. Stop, get behind the bike, and assert dominance by yelling and acting mad, followed by slowly walking away. I've used this with dogs that seem aggressive, but it's scary because the dogs still get pretty close. Sometimes they back away; other times I've had to backtrack and it took about 15-30 minutes to slowly inch away.
3. Stop, get behind the bike, and act friendly. If the dogs are smaller or seem friendly, I will act friendly and even let them smell me. But again, this is scary because they're so close.
4. Pepper spray. I have heard this is the most effective method, but I've never used it. I met a huge yellow dog on my last ride that was very aggressive and I had the can pointed at its eyes, ready to pull the trigger, while it was bearing its teeth at me, but it walked away at the last minute (maybe it had been sprayed before?)

Any thoughts or other advice in terms of dealing with dogs? I've heard some people just use pepper spray every time, but I don't want to jump the ***, so to speak. However, a loud, aggressive dog can be scary, and maybe it's just better to spray it in the eyes before things get out of hand? If a dog actually did bite me, I would be forced to try as hard as I can to try and kill it in self-defense, and I want to avoid that at all costs -- then again, maybe actual dog bites of cyclists are rare?
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Old 04-19-15, 09:19 PM
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With the caveat that I really haven't encountered that many dogs on my route, I just haven't had much trouble with them. But I'm completely unafraid of dogs, and if one runs at me I just talk to it, stop if it looks like it won't back off, and I tell it off, point back where it came from and tell it to go home. At worst they just stand there and wait for me to mount up, in which case I just go really, really slowly to not give them any sport, and they just get disgusted, bark a little more and then wander back.
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Old 04-19-15, 09:46 PM
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Most country dogs are what I call "property line dogs". They know and will defend the property up to the line, and once having run off the intruder (you) will break off the chase and go home. So if you can see a fence line within sprint range, go for it.

Of course, not all dogs are property line dogs, so make sure you leave something in the tank just in case.

I'm most successful channeling my "master's voice" and in clear certain terms commanding the dog to "GO HOME!", which they do. You have to deliver this with authority, not fear because dogs can sense the difference.

I used to ride with someone who kept a rolled up newspaper in his back pocket. When a dog he'd brandish it and issue a command. Apparently folks in the country train or discipline dogs with a rolled up newspaper, and dogs recognize the authority it represents.

The one thing you don't want to do is lose control of the bike while trying to defend yourself, so find something that can end the chase, or dismount, and use the bike as a shield.

Understand that (most) dogs have no interest in biting you. They're defending the property, and will chase to run you off, or will maintain a certain distance if you stop, so it's one or the other.
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Old 04-19-15, 10:27 PM
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I have thought of an electric cattle prod or a paint ball ***. My wife thought about an air horn. Dog whistle might work.
Not sure why the word "***" is replaced with "***".

Last edited by texbiker; 04-19-15 at 10:28 PM. Reason: wording
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Old 04-19-15, 10:40 PM
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Up until a week ago, it had been quite some time since I had been chased by a dog without the owner around. Sometimes I'll pass a dog with the owner working in the yard, but they rarely get onto the road. Most of the dogs I pass are behind a fence, and I don't worry about them... sometimes I'll race them just for fun.

Then I was just cruising down to the end of my road and got chased by two different dogs (perhaps a big one and a little one at the first house, followed by another big dog at a second house).

If I have some warning, I usually hit it at as fast as my feet can pedal. But, I also point my finger at them, and yell in a loud authoritative voice "GO HOME"!!!!!

The second house had me worried because it was at a dead-end turn-around. So, I not only couldn't speed past, but I had to stop (or head up someone's driveway).

So, I pointed, yelled GO HOME, and then hit the brakes. The dog stopped, shut up, and sat in the corner of the property and watched me turn around and come back past. I suppose the corner of the property is "home" enough.

I cruised back by the first house and the dogs were gone, so perhaps the owners saw and heard both me and the dogs. I'm not quiet when I yell.

Originally Posted by texbiker View Post
Not sure why the word "***" is replaced with "***".
Yes, the G-Word is strictly forbidden on this site, not sure why. Especially when some people want to grease their bikes with a grease G**.
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Old 04-19-15, 10:49 PM
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Pepper Spray. I've had a can for several years, have never had to use it. But it is my main stratagey if I am not able to out distance the dog, or if it doesn't lose interest quickly.
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Old 04-19-15, 11:53 PM
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Although I've never had to use the technique, I've heard that firmly yelling "Get off the couch!" works. Sounds funny but when you think about it there's a certain logic to it.
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Old 04-20-15, 12:39 AM
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Dogs don't bother me. In that, I don't run from them.
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Old 04-20-15, 07:33 AM
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you've never seen dogs until you've ridden at night in North/South Carolina. Actually, it's not easy to see them then, but there are a lot of them. I've never had a problem with dogs. The real problem is when you are chased by two or more dogs, that is a situation to worry about
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Old 04-20-15, 10:46 AM
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Spray the dog in the face with a stream of water from your water bottle. I can get them at 10-15 away and I don't even break my stride.

The really dangerous dog is the one in the middle of the road ahead of you. If thats the case, you have to go straight at him fast, and then at the last moment break left or right, with the possibility of hitting the dog, in which case, you are in trouble.
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Old 04-20-15, 10:51 AM
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If the dog is just letting me know their presence and that I am close to their property, I quietly "shush" them....and it usually works.

A serious charger, I give off a loud serious of barks like really big alpha dog while I lay down 1200 watts til I reach the hound's boundry. Problem is how big that boundry is in the hinderlands.

If that fails, one could use pepper spray or just shoot them like police officers do.
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Old 04-20-15, 11:50 AM
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I always understood the biggest danger is potentially crashing because the dog got under or in front of the wheels, at great speed. Unless I'm positively certain I can easily outrun 'em, I never speed up. Slowing down and shouting them back always worked for me.
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Old 04-20-15, 11:58 AM
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Only had 2 encounters with dogs on my bike. Tried outrunning both, and failed. First one got in front of me, turned and took a tire to the ribs. I managed to stay on 2 wheels, but he left after that and hasn't come back on the road when I pass since. The second one got a face full of cleat when he snapped at my leg. He left after that and I've not been down that route again. In the interest of full disclosure, I was ripped up by a dog (Chow/German Shepard Mix) when I was 8, and 33 years later I'm still skittish around larger ones.
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Old 04-20-15, 12:29 PM
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I think running from a dog is possibly the worst possible thing to do. Of course they're going to chase you.
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Old 04-20-15, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I think running from a dog is possibly the worst possible thing to do. Of course they're going to chase you.
And you increase the risk of a crash, that could easily be worse than a bite.
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Old 04-20-15, 01:08 PM
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Pepper spray. There are enough risks without dogs causing additional problems. Pepper spray does no permanant harm and they learn after one or two shots and won't chase you again. In the long run this is better for the dog too since it will discourage them from chasing others and possibly being hit. I prefer not to use it but am quick to do so if a dog looks like they'll be a problem. Some dogs will back down as soon as you hold the can out.
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Old 04-20-15, 01:23 PM
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When I did a lot of back country roads I would come a crossed the same dog that would chase me every time. After the third or fourth time of almost crashing my bike I got a can of wasp/hornet spray. The next time the dog started chasing me I was ready. When he started toward my bike I gave him a shot of spray. He backed off immediately. The next ride the dog started out after me then he must have remembered me because he just stood in his yard barking till I passed. Never had another problem with him after that. The spray is accurate up to 20 feet and works as good or better than pepper spray on dogs and humans if needed!
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Old 04-20-15, 01:34 PM
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Outrun them. Don't try anything complicated that could cause a crash. Last dog encounter I had a warp-speed exit out of a dead-end country road. Dead-ends are where I've usually had my worst experiences, as on the busier streets, Darwin has already culled the stupid chaser-dogs, usually the young ones. Plus the grow-ops are located at the end of cul-de-sacs.

Anyway a German Shepherd chased me over the equivalent of 4 city blocks at an average speed of 40km/hr. This dog then peeled off to reveal an even faster mixed-breed something. Smart tactics - leadout dog and team sprinter dog. Anyway, they eventually tired. God help me if I had been on a mountain bike, or I had delayed my sprint by as little as one second.
BTW: it helps to learn to read dogs. These were not tail-waggers (I'm bored and want to play) or barkers (get out of my territory). These were teeth-bared, ears back silent killers coming out to eat me.
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Old 04-20-15, 01:57 PM
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Fortunately I haven't been threatened by dogs yet. I had one very large and athletic dog run toward me and I knew there was no way I could out run him. The owner was also in the yard and the dog never left the lawn (thankfully). Another time (might have been the same dog) a large dog came up on me very quickly without barking and suddenly he was there over my left shoulder. But he didn't do anything and just stopped. Another time a small dog started chasing me and it made me laugh because he was so small. I was never worried about him but I did admire his determination to catch me (which he couldn't do).
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Old 04-20-15, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by practical View Post
Fortunately I haven't been threatened by dogs yet. I had one very large and athletic dog run toward me and I knew there was no way I could out run him. The owner was also in the yard and the dog never left the lawn (thankfully). Another time (might have been the same dog) a large dog came up on me very quickly without barking and suddenly he was there over my left shoulder. But he didn't do anything and just stopped. Another time a small dog started chasing me and it made me laugh because he was so small. I was never worried about him but I did admire his determination to catch me (which he couldn't do).
Of course every dog is different, but a bit of dog psychology can help calm fears. Dogs are protective of their master's domain and will run off any unwelcome intruder. The fact that you are moving confirms you as a target to be run off or after. But that's it, most dogs chase because that's what they do. They have no interest in actually catching you or biting (or course you never know), so when a dog is chasing and barking odds are he's not a threat. It's the silent ones who are making a beeline for you and not alerting you by barking that are more serious, and need to be watched very closely.
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Old 04-20-15, 02:28 PM
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My only dog incident was on one of my random rides just last month. This huge dog explodes out of the bushes running flat out, with lots of fierce barking. It was only about 500 feet before an intersection with lots of cross traffic, a well-practiced ambush. He stopped at the curb though, tail wagging. I think he was just trying to scare me, to see if I'd fall over or something.
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Old 04-20-15, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I think running from a dog is possibly the worst possible thing to do. Of course they're going to chase you.
Yea, but if you are a good rider on the flats they should not catch you if yuo have any lead to start.

A lot of dogs are territorial, the property line dogs mentioned earlier are the most extreme examples, but there are others less clear, you exit their territory and 99% of dogs lose interest.

I had one dogr that tried for me twice on the same, very hilly route. The second instance was the scariest as he lunged from the high grass right next to the road. Nothing I could have done as there was no warning.

The funniest was a group of 3 big dogs about a mile up the same climb. They started from in front of and above me, charging down. One was quite large, the other 2 only as big as Joey, about 120 lbs. At first terror, then I noticed no barking and tails wagging. Then I realized a friendly jump could mean a broken collarbone, so clipped out. In the end I got a bit of a rest with the time spent petting 3 big friendly dogs, the hardest part was convincing them to head back home. Sadly the problem dog was not out that day. I'm sure the 3 would have followed me and solved my other problem.
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Old 04-20-15, 03:05 PM
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When I was a kid with a paper route, dogs were always an issue. So my dad filled up a small water ****** with ammonia and sent me on my way with the advice to "Aim for the nose". Worked like a charm. Still does. And a small super-soaker will throw it 15 feet no problem. If the pooch ain't fenced in, or leashed, I can't let it be my problem.
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Old 04-20-15, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rlsmith1994 View Post
I have been riding on rural country roads in Illinois for a few years now, and have had several encounters with dogs. I know of four strategies, and have tried three:

1. Try to speed past the dog. This has only worked with little dogs. Big ones outrun me, and one even snipped at my leg. I've read this almost always doesn't work…

Any thoughts or other advice in terms of dealing with dogs?... If a dog actually did bite me, I would be forced to try as hard as I can to try and kill it in self-defense, and I want to avoid that at all costs -- then again, maybe actual dog bites of cyclists are rare?

Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
I think running from a dog is possibly the worst possible thing to do. Of course they're going to chase you
I haven’t encountered a dog in years, including in exurban (not rural) Metro Boston, but in my touring days in Michigan and on a cross-country tour,

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
... I used to have a pretty effective way of handling dogs. I would ride at submaximal speed, and as the dog got close I would scream to startle them, and then speed up. They invariably gave up since they were startled and hesitated, and were already going full tilt.
Just out of curiosity, how would you kill a dog, assuming you are unarmed except with usual portable cycling tools?
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Old 04-20-15, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
you've never seen dogs until you've ridden at night in North/South Carolina. Actually, it's not easy to see them then, but there are a lot of them. I've never had a problem with dogs. The real problem is when you are chased by two or more dogs, that is a situation to worry about
Concur, though back home in the middle of nowhere central NY, much the same.

I've used spray them with the water bottle, last month, got one mid bark, right in the mouth and eyes... He stopped and coughed his brains out...

I've had good luck with helmet mounted head light on flash... funny, on solid but flashing in eyes not as effective.

Some dogs are in for the fun of a run... Some like the chase, and some, well they're just out for blood.
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