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Dog issue

Old 06-06-08, 07:29 AM
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thechemist
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Dog issue

Well I come across an unleashed pitbull on my commute home almost everyday. Normally he is fine and near his door when he starts to charge and i enjoy the need to accelerate given i usually drop him by a good bit.Yesterday for the first time he was pretty close to the street and I had forgotten he was coming up. Needless to say he was a good 10 feet before I outpaced him.

Question should I drive by later in the day and talk to the owner about this or call if I can get the number or simple ignore the close call.
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Old 06-06-08, 07:40 AM
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Mace in the face puts dog in it's place.

Seriously, use mace.
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Old 06-06-08, 07:46 AM
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Talk to the owner. Tell him your next conversation will be with Animal Control. I've had this conversation with someone on my route. He was rude and sour and pretty much an @$$, but the dog doesn't run out to chase me on the highway anymore.

It wasn't just my safety involved, it was also the dog's.
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Old 06-06-08, 08:04 AM
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I've read that mace is a good deterrent, however I've also known some people who, if their dog was maced would stand by the sidewalk waiting for you to drive by to mace you. While its probably a good idea to have it on you and at the ready if you feel threatened, I wouldn't use it just as a deterrent un;ess you feel imminent danger (which, with a charging pit at 10 feet you probably did).

I'd opt as Banzai mentioned, to talk to the owner. This may be difficult given the fact that there is a pit bull that's known to charge when someone gets near the house. I know at least here in Michigan there are leash laws, and while a certain number of offenses can lead to the animal being put down (not the leash part, but the charging and uncontrolled dangerous animal part, I'd like to think that the owner would rather control their dog than have it put down. I know that I felt terrible having to fill out the forms at the hospital when I was bitten by my neighbor's dog, simply because I didn't want to be the one report that lead to its euthanasia.

Most of the time, people are pretty responsive to talking. Sadly, there are jerks who take extreme offense to it. The only dog that has ever chased me was scarcely larger than a squirrel, so I felt more concerned for its safety than I would a large pit. Its still of concern but this thing probably wanted to lick me to death, not maul my face off.
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Old 06-06-08, 08:16 AM
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People treat dogs as extensions of themselves, so when you call their dog a dick, they take it personally. In this case you have a dog that's just being a dog and an owner who's being irresponsible. I can't believe that people would let their dog out to do stuff like that consistently. I understand the dog getting out once or twice, but every day deserves some action.
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Old 06-06-08, 08:22 AM
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I've always stopped and made the dog leave, personally. It's pretty rare that they come out into the road again after that. If they did and it was a busy street, I'd probably talk with the owner.
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Old 06-06-08, 08:25 AM
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The conversation I had with the dog owner was after walking back to the guy's house with his dog. The dog was friendly enough once we were both moving slower.

The dog was chasing me out onto the shoulder of a state highway, forcing me on the day of the conversation to swerve into potential traffic to avoid the dog. (I would have hit the dog rather than a car though...) The dog was also in danger of being hit by a vehicle, or me.

The point really got across when I reminded him that a town this small and poor doesn't have large animal facilities. A call to Animal Control is a 24 hour death sentence for the animal. That same dog still barks, but he's been restrained ever since.
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Old 06-06-08, 10:35 AM
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If you like dogs, contact the owner. You're not doing anything to discourage the dog's behavior, he's going to keep it up and sooner or later it's going to land him in real trouble.
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Old 06-06-08, 11:03 AM
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Thanks guys. It is a back road and traffic is pretty light but when the dog gets up and moving I dont really hold my line and veer toward the middle of the road(given room as I never trust cars). I am sure he is calm if I were walking and I will probably drive to the house and talk to the owner. We do have lease laws here in TN if i recall. Will need to look it up.
thanks and safe riding
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Old 06-06-08, 11:13 AM
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Talking to the owner will probably involve a compromise in your own safety due to the pitbull being between you and the house. If there are leash laws in your area, I would just call animal control.
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Old 06-06-08, 11:17 AM
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I don't like the constant demonizing of pitbulls. Unfortunately the breed may be made "extinct" in pet ownership in North America due to bad people.

Most pitbulls I know, who all have good owners, are all big baby dolls. The sweetest most snuggly dogs ever.

I have a mutt that's part pitbull. Not a mean molecule in him. In fact, he's the only dog that the cat will let get within 5 feet of her. The Lab/Shepherd mix doesn't manage that without getting his nose split.
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Old 06-06-08, 11:41 AM
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With repeat offender dogs like this, I've found that giving em a good hosing with a water bottle over the course of a couple days is usually enough to teach them. After that, if they do come across the yard, it generally requires me only pull out the bottle to make them turn around.

A call to animal control would not be unwarranted though, if leash laws are applicable.
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Old 06-06-08, 11:48 AM
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If you feel that this is a dangerous situation, make the call. Let the Animal Control folks talk to the owner and keep you out of any possible confrontation with them. I had to call on a neighbor's dog 3 years ago. The neighbor and I got along, but he never fixed the dog issue until AC came to chat with him. They never told them I made the report and the issue was resolved quickly. If there is no history to go on, and this dog nips someone or causes any damage, including a bike wreck, then AC can only make an initial report at that point.
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Old 06-06-08, 12:05 PM
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I wouldn't ignore the incident - either call the owner, stop by and talk to the owner, or report the incident to Animal Control. I had a friend who got in a nasty crash a few years ago from a dog that ran out in the road and took out his front wheel - he didn't even see the dog coming as apparently the dog had calculated a perfect intercept vector and was charging him from a field on the side of the road.

Point I'm trying to make is that someone could get hurt, crashed or bitten, maybe you next time you ride by the house.
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Old 06-06-08, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikecentric View Post
apparently the dog had calculated a perfect intercept vector
That's how my incident started. Luckily I didn't have to hit the dog...in retrospect I was impressed at the dog's ability to so accurately go CATA on me.
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Old 06-06-08, 01:54 PM
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I wouldn't bother trying to contact the owner...he may live up a long driveway with other pit bulls, and he may be a tweaker hillbilly who's paranoid about any strangers getting near his meth lab / still.

I would:

1) Contact Animal Control and report the problem. Contact them again every time the dog threatens you. You'll be doing a favor for other cyclists, and anybody else who has to walk or ride on that road.

2) Carry cop-strength pepper spray (not "mace" as advised above, and not the watered-down "Halt" product). Make sure you get it in the "stream" not "fog" dispensing pattern. Keep it in your jersey pocket and when the dog gets close, pull it out, aim for his nose/eyes, and let 'er rip. If the dog is approaching from the side, or overtaking from behind, it's pretty easy to accurately deliver a short blast while you're still riding the bike.


FWIW, I love dogs, but won't put up with loose dogs that chase bikes. In my experience, full strength pepper spray works great on dogs - it doesn't seem to hurt them, but the immediately lose all interest in the chase.

Just be careful with wind direction - blowback's a b*tch!
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Old 06-06-08, 02:08 PM
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Dogs like to chase bikes because they are moving. For an able adult its one thing to sprint away from the dog. Kids maybe not.

I ride out in the rural areas and there are a lot of dogs out there just hanging out waiting. One I used to see every time I rode was particularly fast. One day I just stopped right in front of the house out in the middle of the street. The dog ran full speed toward me until I stopped then he slowed down and kept his distance. Some dogs just want to play and some others are just bullies with no follow through. Others could take a chunk out of you.

I carry a long frame pump for the day one catches me.

My favorites are the fast ones on the really long chains that stop suddenly and get surprised everytime it happens.

I am a dog lover by the way. But just like people there are some bad apples.
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Old 06-06-08, 02:18 PM
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Rather than talking to the owner or Animal Control, talk to the dog so to speak. That is what I do when I regularly ride past a dog that likes to run out into the road. I slow down before I get there and/or walk and try to meet the dog. My sister has seven (?) pit bull mixes. All of them friendly. But if left out front unattended, they would probably run after someone on a bike or just run out to the street to greet anyone walking past. Dogs tend to be more aggressive toward someone running or riding by, but may be friendly when someone is going real slow or walking.
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Old 06-06-08, 02:19 PM
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You may try getting to know the dog. Bring it a snack. A bit of bacon or something, every day for a week should do it.

I can understand how it would be beneficial to train the dog not to chase bikes, one method of which might be associating cyclists with pain from pepper spray... but this doesn't help make the dog any friendlier. Dogs chase things because that is what they're bred/trained to do, especially wierd giant bugs that have people riding them through that dog's territory.

As a psychologist specializing in animal learning, I can tell you that most animals and especially dogs respond better to rewards than punishments. Would you rather have that dog associate you or other cyclists with pain, fear and anxiety, and view cyclists as potential threats, or would you rather it associated cyclists with pleasure, snacks, and praise?

I am of the persuasion that you should blame the owner, not the dog. I've had dogs all my life, and currently have 2. There's no reason that dog should be unleashed in the front yard, loose, and able to assault any passersby. My fence is in disrepair (I rent), and occasionally my smaller dog finds a hole and escapes. The dog gets scolded, the fence gets patched. When I lived in an apartment and didn't have a yard, the dog stayed indoors until I walked it on a leash. If the owner isn't responsible enough to do these things, he/she has no business owning a dog. I don't care how nice/old/non-threatening they think their dog is. Leash laws are there for a reason, and many dogs are unpredictable or untrained. Pitbulls are notoriously a grab-bag when it comes to demeanor, you never know what you're up against.

Leave a note or contact the owner, and contact animal control. I'd use force on the dog as a LAST resort. You're punishing an ignorant, untrained dog for the OWNER's mistakes. You're CERTAINLY not going to help cyclists (in general) win popularity contests if you go around macing everybody's dogs.

Last edited by mojomuskrat; 06-06-08 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 06-06-08, 02:28 PM
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Talk to the dog owner...end of story.

If it really is a Pit Bull, I doubt the owner wants their dog running down the street after people. I would tell the owner your next call is to Animal Control. Just take the nice approach, don't get mad unless the owner gets mad.
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Old 06-06-08, 03:05 PM
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I had a few moments to think about it on my drive home, and I thought I should elaborate on my last post:

If you go the food route, this is the way I would procede.
First, I would slow down as I neared the dog, and stop when I got to it. If it attacks, then it is OK to use force, local authorities contacted, yada yada. In all likelihood it will stop a yard or two away and bark, at worst. Talk in a sweet tone to the dog, and show it that you have the food. Then toss the food in front of the dog, and then leave.
Next day, I would do something similar, but eventually I would start making the dog wait longer or get calmer before I fed it. The goal is to gradually do this until the dog is 1) familiar with you, and 2) calm when you go by. Don't give it food as it chases you, because this might just reinforce the chasing.

I'm no bleeding-heart animal lover, but I think it is atrocious that the first suggestions here were to mace the dog and be on your way. Macing the dog, who doesn't know any better, is analogous to parents suddenly macing the baby when it craps in the diaper at the start of toilet training.

When you mace the dog, you inflict some level of pain when other non-painful methods could have been just as (if not more) effective, the dog now fears bicycles and may show aggression towards them (they certainly aren't going to be submissive, calm, or happy about them!), the owner hates cyclists because they go around macing their dogs. None of this helps the cyclist much. You may/may not still get chased. MACE IS A LOSE/LOSE/LOSE situation for cyclists/dog/owner. After all, a can of dog treats has to be cheaper than a can of mace!

That said, if you are really attacked/bitten/cornered and the dog will not back down, force can be used as a LAST RESORT. Other options are animal control, or taking a different street.

Good luck, and report back, whatever you decide to do.

Last edited by mojomuskrat; 06-06-08 at 03:15 PM.
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Old 06-06-08, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mojomuskrat View Post
I had a few moments to think about it on my drive home, and I thought I should elaborate on my last post:

If you go the food route, this is the way I would procede.
First, I would slow down as I neared the dog, and stop when I got to it. If it attacks, then it is OK to use force, local authorities contacted, yada yada. In all likelihood it will stop a yard or two away and bark, at worst. Talk in a sweet tone to the dog, and show it that you have the food. Then toss the food in front of the dog, and then leave.
Next day, I would do something similar, but eventually I would start making the dog wait longer or get calmer before I fed it. The goal is to gradually do this until the dog is 1) familiar with you, and 2) calm when you go by. Don't give it food as it chases you, because this might just reinforce the chasing.

I'm no bleeding-heart animal lover, but I think it is atrocious that the first suggestions here were to mace the dog and be on your way. Macing the dog, who doesn't know any better, is analogous to parents suddenly macing the baby when it craps in the diaper at the start of toilet training.

When you mace the dog, you inflict some level of pain when other non-painful methods could have been just as (if not more) effective, the dog now fears bicycles and may show aggression towards them (they certainly aren't going to be submissive, calm, or happy about them!), the owner hates cyclists because they go around macing their dogs. None of this helps the cyclist much. You may/may not still get chased. MACE IS A LOSE/LOSE/LOSE situation for cyclists/dog/owner. After all, a can of dog treats has to be cheaper than a can of mace!

That said, if you are really attacked/bitten/cornered and the dog will not back down, force can be used as a LAST RESORT. Other options are animal control, or taking a different street.

Good luck, and report back, whatever you decide to do.

No offense, but:
  1. I don't have time to be the neighborhood dog trainer
  2. I don't have the credentials to be the neighborhood dog trainer
  3. I don't want to be the neighborhood dog trainer
  4. I do want to dissuade the dog from chasing either me, or the next little 8 year old girl who comes walking or cycling along.
  5. I have serious doubts as to whether your methods would work anywhere, anytime, in the real world.

I have used pepper spray on dogs on at least half a dozen occassions. Each time, it worked very well...the dog(s) lost all interest in chasing me. They never seemed to be in any overt pain - there was no whining or whimpering. Typically, they just headed for some tall grass and started rubbing their muzzles in it. I'm sure it was "uncomfortable" for the dogs, but...so be it.

Note: your methods outlined above also seem to assume that there's just one dog involved that you can establish some sort of "relationship" with. In the real world, there's often a pack of dogs...in that world, pepper spray to the "lead dog" can quickly alter the behavior of the pack. I doubt that sweet talk and food would work nearly as well.

Last edited by SSP; 06-06-08 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 06-06-08, 03:45 PM
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Yeah, I'm sorry, but I'm doing that dog a favor by macing it. More importantly, I'm protecting myself, which, I believe, is my right. As much as I'd like to coach the dog away with stern remarks and gestures, I feel like the road is where my attention should lie and one of the two options takes much less time: mace.
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Old 06-06-08, 03:55 PM
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Well, this thread has essentially broken down into four options:

1) Harm/injure the dog.
2) Train the dog.
3) Talk to the owner.
4) Talk directly to the authorities.

I prefer 3 or 4. As the human being in this situation, let's confine ourselves to solving the problem with the other human beings involved. Option 1 is there if you are actually in bad danger. Option 2? Not your dog.

The problem isn't the dog. It's the owner. Let's all be rational.
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Old 06-06-08, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by thechemist View Post
Well I come across an unleashed pitbull on my commute home almost everyday. Normally he is fine and near his door when he starts to charge and i enjoy the need to accelerate given i usually drop him by a good bit.Yesterday for the first time he was pretty close to the street and I had forgotten he was coming up. Needless to say he was a good 10 feet before I outpaced him.

Question should I drive by later in the day and talk to the owner about this or call if I can get the number or simple ignore the close call.
The owner is responsible for keeping the dog under control, but you have been training it to chase you.

If you don't like having the dog come after you, talk to the owner. If that doesn't work, call animal control. Also, quit egging on dogs if you don't want them coming after you. I know it's sacrilege to alter speed, but we do it all the time for idiots in cars. You should do it anytime it's smart.
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