Author Topic: The free-ranging dogs on long tours. Temporary annoyances, possible dangers.  (Read 7547 times)

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Offline Westinghouse

Here is a detailed answer about dogs. I wrote it on another thread for a person planning a transcon on a recumbent. This person was a disabled veteran planning on turning the cranks by hand. As for dogs on tour, I have had many experiences with them. Some cyclists might carry pepper spray, which I have done but never used. I saw another advise carrying a water pistol containing a mixture of water and ammonia; this I have never done. The fact is that dogs can be an occasional annoyance or hassle or whatever, but by and large they are not a real danger unless one comes charging at you from out of nowhere, startling you, and causing you to involuntarily swerve out into traffic. It happens.


There is something about the movement and sound of cycling that sets dogs off into a headstrong frenzy of barking and chasing. I mean, you come along, and there is some dog in a yard. It has been lolling around all day perhaps. It catches sight of you going by on your bike, and it immediately goes nuts. It starts barking, snarling, yelping, and growling, and chasing you at high speed and going for your heels with all its might. I have seen dogs go absolutely bananas at the sight of me cycling, even if I was two hundred feet away from them. I have seen them come charging out at me, stopped only by a fence around the property. They would follow all along the fence line to the end, and then go ape trying to jump over the fence or tunnel under it.  This kind of reaction comes from dogs of all sizes from the largest dogs to even those little Mexican Chihuahuas. That is no kidding. I was cycling through some town. Somebody was carrying one of those little Mexican dogs. It saw me. It went crazy trying to jump from its owners arms and chase along.


I have worked out a manner of dealing with dogs. In spite of all the noise and chases not one dog has ever actually bitten me.  However, they do seem to be fond of going for the feet, and some have come close to biting. First, slow down a bit, look at the dog and yell out a loud, sharp report, and when I say loud and sharp that is what is meant; something like you might expect to hear from a marine corps drill sargeant. You might have to yell a number of times. The yelling will bring some dogs to a halt. Some will stop temporarily and continue, and slow down or halt every time you yell. Just yell out hut or ha loud, sharp, and clear. If that does not dissuade the cur from pursuing his pleasure or whatever it is he gets out of the chase, come to a dead stop and give him the yell. He will stop. He may turn around and take off. He may tarry a while and snip and growl. He may come close, but my experience is the actual attack will not happen. I have cycled 34,000 miles through 19 countries, and six or more times across the USA, so I know of what I speak.


I have always ridden an upright touring bike, therefore, having a dog running along and chasing at my heels is a different matter from riding a recumbent with the animal more nearly at the vital parts such as torso, head, and throat. My general advice is this. If you are concerned, do what I have told you, and carry a water pistol with water and ammonia in it, if legal to do so, or a very good pepper spray, not one of those little key chain things, but a canister with a real fog or large volume spray that comes out, but do not use it as a first response. If you yell and stop and yell, the dog will stop his pursuit. In other words, do not run and it will not chase. Often, as you are stopped at the roadside waiting for the animal to lose interest, its owner will come out and call it back, and it trots on home. If you stop and it stops and loses interest, it might head back to its territory on its own, but if you take off it will turn around and continue chasing. Dogs, for the most part, are a temporary nuisance, but not a real serious danger. However, I am sure cyclists have been actually attacked, and perhaps even injured.


When stopped, the hound may come close, but will not actually sink its teeth into your hide. If it is particularly vicious or mean, give him a whiff of the pepper spray or whatever, but I have never found that to be necessary. If you get off the bike and walk a ways, which you would not or might not be able to do, it could lose interest; get back on and cycle away, and it will pick up where it left off, or just go home.
Try not to let a dog catch you by surprise in close quarters. That happened to me once, and I tipped over injuring my ankle. It was at night on a quiet, placid road. A very large dog came charging aggressively from out of the bushes near the side of the road. All of a sudden I heard this very loud barking and snarling, and saw a blur out of the corner of my eye. In an attempt to stop, dismount immediately, and get the bike between myself and the attacking dog, I forgot my feet were strapped into the pedals, and tried to get off on the right of the bike, I fell over and twisted my ankle. Well, at least I fell over away from the dog and not toward it. After all that the dog just stood there looking at me, and turned around and left. It was one of the larger breeds of dog, and I am sure it would not have harmed me, but it caught me completely unexpected, and I reacted unthinking with a start. There was no time to think through what to do. The subconscious mind told me I was under attack and needed to respond, and I did.


You might have dog problems in some areas at times, and no dog problems whatsoever in other places. In 1984 in winter along highway 90 in Florida free ranging dogs were all over the place, and I might add, were often seen dead along the roadside after having been slammed by motor vehicles. In 2007 I cycled 90, and there was not the first problem with the first dog; very different from 1984. In countrified areas dog owners may be more disposed to letting their dogs roam free. Some may be fenced in, but have some little tunnel dug out under the fence in some bush-covered corner. They actually seem to be smart enough to try and cover or hide their tunnels. Anyway, that is about all I can tell you. If you go into Eastern Europe, you may find canines of a very different stripe; very different from the friendly domesticated kind we are used to in the USA. But people have been attacked and killed by dog-packs in the USA.


As for some of those dogs I encountered in eastern Europe, nothing short of a firearm would save you.  Some of those would run you to earth and kill you and eat you. I had never seen anything even remotely as vicious as those, and have not seen anything like it since. If there is any such thing as a homicidal, insane, psychotic, murderous, savage dog, those dogs were it. Thank God for chain link fences. They must have been raised to be that way.

Offline UncaBuddha

In October of last year a lady in her 60's was horribly mauled by some dogs in Ohio. She lost a leg I believe and the other leg was "reconstructed". If you are on FB, you can see the story on Ohio Gravel Grinders.


Offline Westinghouse

Yes, and a woman was mauled to death by a pack of free-ranging dogs in New Mexico. Others also around the country.

Offline Ty0604

I actually worry more about dogs than automobiles while on tour. Have been chased more times than I remember and have used my bear spray more than once on a pack of dogs.

Oddly enough my most terrifying moment ended up not being one at all. Last year in Delaware I came around the corner with a long uphill ahead on a narrow two-lane country road to three pit bulls in the middle of the road in front of their house. I thought for sure I was SOL. Pulled out my bear spray but as I approached they excitedly wagged their tails and came over to smell me. I was still annoyed that the owner had let them loose on a known bicycling route but perhaps they had escaped.
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Offline Westinghouse

I too would be cautious coming up suddenly on three pit bulldogs lurking in the road.  These dogs have a bad reputation for viciousness, very strong jaws and not letting go.  It is said they are actually as gentle as a lamb.   The ferocious ones are trained to be that way.  Like lawyers, it is the 95 % that give all the others a bad name.  I probably would have turned around at the sight of them, and looked for another way.

Offline froze

I too would be cautious coming up suddenly on three pit bulldogs lurking in the road.  These dogs have a bad reputation for viciousness, very strong jaws and not letting go.  It is said they are actually as gentle as a lamb.   The ferocious ones are trained to be that way.  Like lawyers, it is the 95 % that give all the others a bad name.  I probably would have turned around at the sight of them, and looked for another way.

Except not all Pits are gentle as little lambs, there is a reason why homeowners insurance companies won't insure a home with Pits.  I'm a landlord, and my commercial policy on the buildings won't allow me to rent to anyone with a Pit.  There are a few other dogs they won't allow either.  This reputation Pits have is documented by claims at insurance companies which is why they don't want them on the property.

My mom had a Pit and it was gentle as a lamb, but others are not.  So, while 5% (no documented percentage available, but let's use that since that example was given) other breeds will be less than .01%, so that is why insurance companies don't want that breed as well as a few others.  I only accept small dogs, and they have to show renters insurance in case of a liability issue, plus pay $20 a month extra which effectively discourages most of my renters from having a dog or a cat, which I do not allow cats at all.

The other dogs insurance companies don't like are Chows, Rotts, Doby's, Presa Canarios, and even German Shepherds.  Some other insurance companies will get even pickier and they add another 5 dog breeds to that list, Great Danes, Akitas, Siberian Husky, and wolf hybrids.  But if you are willing to pay a higher premium you can find insurance companies that will accept any dog, but I'm trying to keep my premiums, thus expenses, low.

Offline Westinghouse

I too would be cautious coming up suddenly on three pit bulldogs lurking in the road.  These dogs have a bad reputation for viciousness, very strong jaws and not letting go.  It is said they are actually as gentle as a lamb.   The ferocious ones are trained to be that way.  Like lawyers, it is the 95 % that give all the others a bad name.  I probably would have turned around at the sight of them, and looked for another way.

Except not all Pits are gentle as little lambs, there is a reason why homeowners insurance companies won't insure a home with Pits.  I'm a landlord, and my commercial policy on the buildings won't allow me to rent to anyone with a Pit.  There are a few other dogs they won't allow either.  This reputation Pits have is documented by claims at insurance companies which is why they don't want them on the property.

My mom had a Pit and it was gentle as a lamb, but others are not.  So, while 5% (no documented percentage available, but let's use that since that example was given) other breeds will be less than .01%, so that is why insurance companies don't want that breed as well as a few others.  I only accept small dogs, and they have to show renters insurance in case of a liability issue, plus pay $20 a month extra which effectively discourages most of my renters from having a dog or a cat, which I do not allow cats at all.

The other dogs insurance companies don't like are Chows, Rotts, Doby's, Presa Canarios, and even German Shepherds.  Some other insurance companies will get even pickier and they add another 5 dog breeds to that list, Great Danes, Akitas, Siberian Husky, and wolf hybrids.  But if you are willing to pay a higher premium you can find insurance companies that will accept any dog, but I'm trying to keep my premiums, thus expenses, low.


I had no idea about dogs and insurance premiums.  Instinctively, it does make a lot of sense.  I mean, who wants to be in a place populated by dogs half the size of a horse, and animals known for deadly attacks?  You want to live in a safe place, not return to the jungle. It is the same reasoning that prevents renting to some kinds of people.  Is it appropriate to move a repeat recidivist offender who is in and out of prison next door to a family with children?  It is not a good idea because, like some dogs, they raise the possibility of harm to others.

Offline froze

I too would be cautious coming up suddenly on three pit bulldogs lurking in the road.  These dogs have a bad reputation for viciousness, very strong jaws and not letting go.  It is said they are actually as gentle as a lamb.   The ferocious ones are trained to be that way.  Like lawyers, it is the 95 % that give all the others a bad name.  I probably would have turned around at the sight of them, and looked for another way.

Except not all Pits are gentle as little lambs, there is a reason why homeowners insurance companies won't insure a home with Pits.  I'm a landlord, and my commercial policy on the buildings won't allow me to rent to anyone with a Pit.  There are a few other dogs they won't allow either.  This reputation Pits have is documented by claims at insurance companies which is why they don't want them on the property.

My mom had a Pit and it was gentle as a lamb, but others are not.  So, while 5% (no documented percentage available, but let's use that since that example was given) other breeds will be less than .01%, so that is why insurance companies don't want that breed as well as a few others.  I only accept small dogs, and they have to show renters insurance in case of a liability issue, plus pay $20 a month extra which effectively discourages most of my renters from having a dog or a cat, which I do not allow cats at all.

The other dogs insurance companies don't like are Chows, Rotts, Doby's, Presa Canarios, and even German Shepherds.  Some other insurance companies will get even pickier and they add another 5 dog breeds to that list, Great Danes, Akitas, Siberian Husky, and wolf hybrids.  But if you are willing to pay a higher premium you can find insurance companies that will accept any dog, but I'm trying to keep my premiums, thus expenses, low.


I had no idea about dogs and insurance premiums.  Instinctively, it does make a lot of sense.  I mean, who wants to be in a place populated by dogs half the size of a horse, and animals known for deadly attacks?  You want to live in a safe place, not return to the jungle. It is the same reasoning that prevents renting to some kinds of people.  Is it appropriate to move a repeat recidivist offender who is in and out of prison next door to a family with children?  It is not a good idea because, like some dogs, they raise the possibility of harm to others.

I do background checks on all would-be renters, but laws in Indiana are such that a convicted child molester is required to tell landlords of their status because if there are families living in an apartment the molester cannot be there or face being arrested.  There are special places these people can go where they're not around kids and they must register wherever they live, I have a special place I would like to see those people go live, but the law would frown on me taking them there...

Even if after doing a background check and they check out ok, move in, then suddenly are doing illegal activities, here in Indiana, once the person is arrested, I can go to court and get an emergency 7 day eviction.  One of the buildings I bought had such a tenant, thankfully he got arrested, and I evicted him, more thankfully he accepted Christ into his heart at a later date, but I would still not rent to him because of the damage he did when he left and has never paid for those damages, but he has been straight and legal now for the last 12 years and to me that's more important than paying me back for the damages.

Also here in Indiana, there is what is called Section 8 housing, these places take poor people and felons, I will not convert any of my places to Section 8 even though I would probably make more money, and guaranteed payment.

I was in another line of business for over 25 years before becoming a landlord, that line of business required that I be a quick and accurate study of people, and due to that experience I know when someone is not going to be a good renter, and all the people that I have rented to have never given me an ounce of problems.  Landlords are not supposed to not rent to someone because they think that person may be bad, but there are loopholes we use to get around that.

The one thing I forgot to mention is that a renter who has a dog must also pay a $100 security deposit that is non-refundable, on top of the $20 a month and renters insurance.  So far I haven't run into any issues with some strange dog, they do have to tell me the type of dog due to my insurance company's restrictions so I can give them a thumbs up or down.  If I ever do run into a problem like someone gets a dog and doesn't tell me the monthly fee will be double!  That would probably make them move out, which would be fine with me.

Offline Mark Manley

I have just got back from a trip to the US which included a ride along the C and O canal, I rode less than 10 miles on road the whole time and encountered aggresive car drivers on three occasions and one near miss when a large SUV turned left on me in DC stopping only a few feet away from running into me. Each time I thought perhaps I am in the wrong as I was riding on the other side of the road and with different traffic regulations but after considering each incident concluded no it was just aggressive driving.
As it happens my only actual accident was on the canal itself when the last rider in a group of three coming the other way pulled out to overtake the second rider straight into the front of me throwing my bike and I into the growth next to the canal with them coming to rest on the gravel. They immediately apologised and offered me their Go-Pro footage but as no actual damage was done or injury sustained on my part I did not feel the need to make an issue of it and after a few minutes we all carried on our separate ways.

Offline Westinghouse

Mark Manley, I live in Florida. This state is probably the most dangerous area to be riding a bicycle. So they have been telling us on television. Anywhere around here a cyclist had better stay on the sidewalk. The little bit of cycling I have done here in the fort Lauderdale area was hazardous. Some drivers seem to think a man on a bicycle has no legal right away when the driver is in a hurry.

Offline froze

Mark Manley, I live in Florida. This state is probably the most dangerous area to be riding a bicycle. So they have been telling us on television. Anywhere around here a cyclist had better stay on the sidewalk. The little bit of cycling I have done here in the fort Lauderdale area was hazardous. Some drivers seem to think a man on a bicycle has no legal right away when the driver is in a hurry.

I get the occasional motorist screaming at me that cyclists don't belong on the road as they go by along with some colored metaphor; I will try to catch up with them if possible and explain the error of their thinking in a polite educational way, doing that could lead to a physical confrontation, but anyone who has pretended to get aggressive has immediately back down and drove off, those people that yell that stuff are nothing but Chihuahuas, flyby Rambos, and they will back down.

But I thought the high incidents of cyclist accidents and fatalities in Florida were due to all the old motorists on the road driving that shouldn't be driving?

Offline freightbike

I had a couple of farm dogs chase me for about five miles in MO. I lost them when I went down a hill and around a curve where they lost sight of me and gave up. What gets me angry is when I'm in a state park where there is a leash law and folks seem to think it's okay to let them off the leash. Last summer, I was on a ride in south western MN at a state park called Blue Mounds. I was on a little used but official trail in a part of the park where if I had lost my footing, I could have been badly injured. Two large dogs sprang at me from out of nowhere with their with their owner showing up moments later. The excuse I got from the owner was that no one ever uses that trail. In south eastern MN Beaver Creek Valley state Park on that same trip, another dog came at me with a growling tone and bark. I opened up on that dog owner, with every nasty word I had as  a truck driver, to the point that by pulling out my smart phone and chasing him out of the park, into his car and getting a screen shot of his license plate as he fled. I reported both of these to park rangers the first on they had had contact with before but the last one was from WI and they might not have him on their records.
May the wind at your back always smell like home.
                  MORG

Offline misterflask

I yell 'Bad Dog' at them, a variation on OPs method.  Most of the time they look visibly confused and lose their pace.

In a sleepy and dusty town in western Kansas (what other kind are there in western Kansas) I encountered a pack of a half dozen or so dogs who surrounded my bike while a pair nipped at my heels.  They were having the grandest time ever.  It was disconcerting, but they probably wouldn't have eaten me in the middle of town.
 

Offline froze

Most dogs will only chase to the end of their property, but some don't.

I had 3 farm dogs, all of them Pits that chased me once for about a mile on a very hot day, I yelled bad boy, nothing, I yelled go home, nothing, I yelled stay, nothing, they were intent on chasing me, what they didn't account for was the heat, about a mile or so they were just stopped and laid on the ground with their tongues hanging out.

I also once had some sort of hound chase me, he chased me through a busy section of the city I was living in, he didn't seem like the friendly sort, nor too fast, but I had to stop for red lights and wait for traffic to clear then run the reds, meantime this dog is closing in and barking up a storm, this goes on for about 12 blocks, I accelerate away, stop for a red light, he closes in, I pedal away, the dog doesn't stop for the reds, cars are slamming on their brakes and honking their horns.  On about that 12th block, he ran a red for the last time, I looked back to see where he was when I saw a car hit him, he flew about 12 or so feet into the air and hit a brick retaining wall, he was dead.

Another time while climbing a steep grade unable to go very fast due to the steepness, I saw a guy working in his front yard, next thing I know this young German Shepherd tears out after me from the guy's yard and is on me in seconds, the dog is trying to bite my leg as I'm pedaling, the guy in the yard isn't calling the dog back, so I took my Zefal frame pump off the bike and smacked that dog as hard as I could right on his snout, he let out a scream and went running back to the guy, the guy screams at me that I hit his dog, I yelled back that the next time that dog comes after me I'll kill it, he didn't say anything after that.  There was a fair amount of blood, skin, and hair debris on the end of that pump!  Between the nastiness on my pump and the dog's screaming I knew I got him good, I doubt he ever chased anyone again after getting that lesson.  Nothing happened to the pump, just needed cleaning, those Zefals were tough.

Now with mini pumps, you can't use those pumps to hit a dog with, but on my touring bike I do carry a much newer Zefal frame pump, it appears to be made as tough as the original ones they made, but in the outside pocket of my handlebar bag I have a small thing of pepper spray I would use first.  There is no way I could outrun a dog with a loaded touring bike.  You can get those small thin pepper spray gel things at Walmart near the sporting section, the one I got is made by Sabre maybe 1/4 of inch in diameter and about 4 1/2 inches long, they claim 35 shots? but one or two, maybe three is all you need. The gel type is supposed to resist wind blowback better than a spray.  They cost $10 and are made in the USA!

Offline Westinghouse

Dogs ran after me so many times in numerous different ways.  It is too long ago to remember with precision. Dogs in the US are most always domesticated, tame, friendly.  They are in it for the run and the hunt. It is genetically encoded.  They will not run you to earth and devour you. This might be quite the opposite of dogs in other regions of the world. Some, like some people, will attack a human of any age and maul them to death.  And they would eat out your guts.  In the US you should be safe from the pesky canines. While that is not a 100% guarantee, I would give it a 98. There is a small risk of being attacked by a free-ranging pack of dogs.