Author Topic: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)  (Read 16623 times)

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Offline mikebmcfall

I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« on: March 07, 2011, 01:15:23 am »
 I'm looking for proven techniques to discourage dogs from taking a bite of me while riding.

Offline whittierider

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2011, 03:02:22 am »
In the late 1990's, Bicycling had a little article about dogs.  They said a sharp yell like "Back off!" or "Go home" will intimidate an aggressive dog.  A couple of days after reading that, I took my family out on a 15-mile ride when the youngest was still on a little bike with 16-inch wheels and I was pushing him every so often to make it more fun for all of us.  A couple of big dogs came out from a yard through an open gate and began to chase him.  I yelled an explosive "Back off!", and they did.  My family admired me, and I was pleased with my new-found powers.  In the years since then, I've used this many times and it has always worked, once even with a group of dogs in a canyon.  They reacted as if to say, "W-w-we're sorry-- we didn't realize you had authority!"

I've used Halt also, but although it works well for a pedestrian, I found it does not work well from the bike because the wind breaks up the stream too much.  I've heard of many cyclists just shooting the dog a faceful with their water bottle, and dogs don't like that and the surprise makes them back off.

Offline mucknort

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2011, 08:28:53 am »
One of the funniest phrases I've heard used (and it worked!) is, "GET OFF THE COUCH!!!".

My list:
-Step 1:Yell "GO HOME!" , "BAD DOG".
-Step 1a: An airhorn blast (The Airzound is awesome for dogs and cars, otherwise I've used a simple small dept. store airhorn).
-Step 2: HALT! from close range right in the eyes.

Some folks try to outrace dogs, but if you are on a loaded tour this may not work. Stopping and dismounting with the bike between you and the dog often takes all the interest out of the game for some dogs. Being stopped or rolling slowly also allows you to get an accurate shot of HALT! (or water bottle) into a doggy's face, and avoid what whittierider was saying about the wind messing with the spray. One funny thing about carrying the Halt brand of spray is that the US Postal Service uses it and so many bad doggies have been sprayed by mail carriers that often I just have to pull out the can and they recognize it and turn tail.
The best thing is to have a variety of plans in place and choose which is most appropriate for the situation.
Other tactics I've heard of include:
-filling a water bottle with ammonia/water mix (you risk getting mix on you/mixing up bottle for good water)
-swinging a pump at 'em (you risk breaking/losing a pump)

« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 11:25:36 am by mucknort »

Offline litespeed

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2011, 08:35:45 am »
My favorite method of dealing with dogs chasing me is to swerve vigorously back and forth - traffic permitting, of course. This confuses dogs no end. I have had dogs run into telephone poles, get all tangled up with each other, run into ditches, even simply trip all over themselves.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2011, 10:06:50 am by litespeed »

Offline staehpj1

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2011, 09:50:11 am »
Where will you be riding?  The problem is much greater some places than others.

We were chased by quite a few dogs in Missouri and Kentucky and pretty much nowhere else when on the TA.  In the Central Valley in California we also chased by quite a few dogs and they seemed more vicious on average than the ones in Missouri and Kentucky.  Everywhere else we have ridden dogs have been generally a non issue.

Our usual approach is to outrun them.  We experimented with different things and found that yelling was "Bag Dog" way more effective than "Go Home".   We also found that spraying with a water bottle worked most of the time.  Halt works OK, but I generally don't bother to carry it.

As far as the stopping so they will lose interest approach...  That may work much of the time, but it resulted in the one on tour dog interaction that actually scared me and made me think I was actually in danger.  Putting the bike between you and the dog only goes so far when there is more than one dog.  When I was off my bike and being harassed by a doberman and a pit bull mix in the central valley I did wish for a can of Halt, but will continue to ride without one.


  • Guest
Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2011, 10:02:14 am »
Yelling first and then water bottle second is the way I roll.

Only once have I had to use more drastic measure.  I was being chased by a fast, fierce looking doberman who showed no signs of letting up.  There was oncoming traffic and a shoulder on both sides of the road.  Feeling I had no choice, I cut across the road to the other shoulder to put traffic between the dog and myself.  While I had no love for this animal, I was glad he was smart enough not to run in front of the oncoming vehicles.

Used this same technique to shield myself from a potential bear encounter in Glacier N.P., but that's a different story.

Offline John Nelson

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2011, 11:32:58 am »
Whatever course of action you decide on, I advocate stopping the bike before doing it. Trying to spray Halt or water, or trying to kick the dog, or trying to hit it with a pump--these things all create too much risk if done while moving.

Offline mucknort

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2011, 01:51:43 pm »
Almost forgot, another thing that works on many dogs is an ultrasonic device. They don't work so well on deaf/older/super aggresive dogs, but are a great first line of defense on the rest. They also don't piss off dog owners like pepper sprays do.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2011, 02:48:50 pm »
Here is a detailed answer about dogs. I wrote it on another thread for a person planning a transcon on a recumbent.
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 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 lolloing 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 thge 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 sargent. 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 37,000 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 whif 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 unexpectedly, 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. For some of those dogs I encountered in eastern Europe, nothing short of a 12 guage shotgun would save you. 

Offline Patco

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 07:33:08 pm »
I point at the chasing dog and with authority say, "NO!!". Who doesn't tell their dog No? Every dog has stopped, looking confused, and has broken off the chase. 

Offline ronnie421

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2011, 10:35:59 pm »
I must agree with the airhorn. Our mailcarrier carries it.  There is a house about three houses down that has a couple of mixed breed large dogs. That day, they were both out when the mailman arrived. They attacked but i was impressed at how fast they stop dead in their tracks at the sound of that mindblowing, high pitch squeel! I was about three houses away and that thing blasted MY ears! No needless irritating pain to the animals face. 

Offline mikebmcfall

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2011, 02:52:49 pm »
Thank you all very much!
I am currently riding a Rans recumbent near San Felipe, Baja del norte, Mexico.  I'm putting on miles for a Northern Tier ride this summer.  The roadway is wonderful to ride, but I had one uncomfortable encounter with three dogs of questionable breeding.  I am using your suggestions to develop a level of confidence...........however small.

Offline ducnut

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2011, 05:13:12 pm »
I use a repellent called Muzzle. It's suitable against animals and humans.

I had a couple dogs, at the same house, chase me every time I passed. One use of the repellent stopped them from ever chasing me again. The stuff works!

Offline Tourista829

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2011, 09:10:29 pm »
Flexiblity, my technique, if I can, pedal like hell, and out run them. If not, put my bike between myself and the cainine and stay still. I yell for the owner. (once had an owner in N.C. who said to his dog sic um, thankfully I out ran both of them) I had a friend who was an ex police officer, who carried a .380 semi automatic pistol. One shot in the air scared the dog off, and got the attention of the owner right quick. (not recommended)

Offline jimsh991

Re: I don't like dogs! (around my bike)
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2023, 04:57:45 am »
If you have a route that has a troublesome dog, try a squirt gun loaded with plain water. (Or just squeeze your water bottle.) Dogs don’t like being squirted in the face.