Author Topic: How would you have handled this dog episode?  (Read 7007 times)

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Offline chrisenter

How would you have handled this dog episode?
« on: April 25, 2011, 11:04:50 am »
I'm planning a Trans-Am trip to begin later this year and my biggest concern is loose dogs. (One of my earliest memories is of a loose doberman knocking me off my first bike and biting me when I was 7 years old. So started a bad relationship with dogs...)

Anyway, I've read all the recommendations posted here and elsewhere. And I've gotten to be pretty successful at dealing with 1-2 loose dogs at a time. But yesterday I was out riding and came upon four dogs gathered together in the middle of a desolate road. As I approached, I realized they had every angle on me. I was at a point where I could turn around and try outsprinting them, so that's just what I did. But I know that won't always be an option on the Trans-Am.

Just curious to know how others would've handled the same situation.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2011, 11:15:47 am »
Generally speaking, a dog will not really attack you, especially if you stop. A pack of dogs coming in at all angles is another matter, and a lot depends on exactly what dogs you are dealing with. If they are totally unknown values to you and out somewhere where dogs might be used to hunting, you might have a problem on your hands.

I think I might have gotten out my pump, and stood ready to crack one of them with it at least.

Offline John Nelson

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2011, 11:15:53 am »
Unless you are 100% sure you can outrun them, the first thing I suggest in all dog encounters is to STOP!! It is very unlikely that a dog will actually attack you while you are stopped. If there is just one dog, you can attempt to keep the bike between you and the dog. If there are multiple dogs, there's a good chance they will surround you. Again, if you stay stopped, they will likely not attack. Eventually they will get bored and go home or someone will come along to help. If you brought along any self defense, you'll have plenty of time to get it out and use it while you are just standing there. Personally I do not believe pepper spray is necessary.

Most of the time, you will encounter one dog at a time.

My number one advice is to not attempt any defensive or offensive action from a moving bike. In most cases where something bad happens, it's while you are moving. The dog will either take a bite out of your leg or gear, or knock you down, or you will lose control of the bike while trying to spray or hit them. Don't risk it.

Offline noshbygosh

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2011, 05:34:33 pm »
Funny you should ask this question.  I just received an email from a long-time friend and big-time bicycle tourist.  He and I met about 15 years ago at a century ride he had organized in a small Wisconsin town.  On that ride, I was about 40 or so miles into it, riding on one of those typical back roads, when a pack of gnarly dogs came out from behind the bushes.  I stopped as there was no way to beat them.  There were six of them, and they soon circled me, most of them wagging their tails, etc.  Soon, their owner came out from behind the woods; he looked like he just got out of prison and/or a meth lab.  He hollered at his dogs to come to him and get away from me. All but one obeyed.  This one took a nip at my thigh.  At the time, I only saw a little bit of holes in the spandex and no real blood.  The owner asked if I wanted to go behind the bushes on to a trail that led to his home that was very invisible to my eyes.  I politely declined and simply poured water from one of my bottles over my leg.  I got to the ride's next rest stop about 10 minutes later and probably put more water on it.  I did not think much more about it that much more on the ride.  At the post-ride party at a local firehouse, the ride organizer wrote down my name on the back of a paper plate, and I took his email address and phone number on the back of a business card, as we hit it off right from the start.  When I got home later that night, my wife and her sister suddenly noticed a major black and blue bruise all over my thigh with a bulls eye centered right where the dog bit me.  Since the sister had some nursing background, she convinced me to go to the local hospital.  I got a TB shot.  I was asked if the dogs were vaccinated.  I  had no idea.  The ER put a call out to the sheriff's office of the county where I was bit, and I was told to try to locate the owner of the dogs ASAP.  When I got home, it was rather late, so I sent an email to the ride organizer explaining the situation.  He and his wife called the next morning.  They asked for the location where I was bit. I told him, "well, it was on some back road with a bunch of woody vegetation.  There apparently was some home or mobile home behind the woods.  There may have been a farm about a mile down the road, and oh yeah, I would guess the rest-stop at around 40-45 miles was about 3-5 miles away."  To the surprise of them and myself, they were able to retrace my directions on bike and find the guy and his pack of dogs.  The dogs apparently had killed one of the farmer's sheep once upon a time.  All but one of the dogs had vaccines accounted for.  This one dog was immediately quarantined.  The ER and/or sheriff (poor memory) told me I had a couple of options.  I could start taking rabies vaccinations immediately.  I could wait and see how the dog responded in quarantine.  I could have the dog put down and get the lab results sooner.  I opted for Choice 2 even though it increased the risk of being too late for a recovery if I indeed had rabies.  I asked the doctor to give me the odds of the dog being infected.  I forgot the number, but it was so low that it was not worth the cost of harming the dog even if the owner was a menace to society. 

Oh well, this was a long-winded story that did not answer your question.  I of course never got infected with rabies.  For about the next 7 or so years after this incident, I regularly carried Halt or pepper spray whenever I bicycled out in the country (I usually carried the stuff in my back jersey pocket, ready to be taken out in a moment's notice).  I never needed to use it once.  On those few occasions when gnarly mutts came out of nowhere, I began to learn how to do the cost-benefit calculations of whether I could outrun them.  In the process, however, I have found that the very best remedy for any unleashed dog is to yell at it in as deep a voice as possible.  Dogs are basically submissive creatures to humans unless irked otherwise.  As I plan on at least two multi-week rides this year, I have no plans on bringing Halt or any pepper spray with me unless I opt for areas where grizzlies are present.  However, if you are so concerned, I would bring Halt or pepper spray and keep a good bicycle pump nearby on the frame.  I really would not be scared however.  If you check this board or others like it, you will probably not find any story worse than the one I told. 

Oh yeah, about that friend.  The ride organizer sent me an email last night, saying hello. We have not seen each other in about 5 years.  He and his wife have cut down on their touring from about 6,000 miles each year across the country and globe since their parents are now quite elderly and in need of lots of care.  Perhaps I'll use one of my two-week vacations to bike to their neck of the woods and participate in their charity ride again.

Offline mucknort

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2011, 06:15:52 pm »
My post from a recent topic on dogs here:

My list:
-Step 1:Yell "GO HOME!" , "BAD DOG!", "GET OFF THE COUCH!".
-Step 2: An airhorn blast (The Airzound is awesome for dogs and cars, otherwise I've used a simple small dept. store airhorn).
-Step 2a: An ultrasonic dog repellent.
-Step 3: HALT! from close range right in the eyes.
-Step 4: Bear Spray.
-Step 4a Stun Baton/Mini Stun Gun

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 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, but would never do 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: April 26, 2011, 07:19:57 pm by mucknort »

Offline John Nelson

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2011, 09:15:37 pm »
I don't recommend ammonia. It can cause permanent damage, and could get you in legal trouble.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2011, 10:17:02 pm »
I'd have got off the bike, close to one edge of the road, and kept it between myself and anything coming from that side.  Then I'd have grabbed the Halt! from the holder on the handlebar, and kept scanning the other side for the dog that was closest (while occasionally watching for an attack through the frame from the back side).  Any dog that got within six feet would have gotten a complimentary dose of Halt in the smacker.  I'd have expected that dog to be out of the fight.  When they were all hit or scared, I'd hop on and ride off, checking after the first 10', 20', and 30' to make sure nothing decided to give chase.

All that assumes you were on flat ground or going uphill.  One of the fun times on the TransAm was outrunning a pack of six hunting dogs, from four adjacent houses, going downhill.  I was going about 20 mph downhill when I passed the first one.  They all came pouring out of the bushes when they heard the first one howl, but it was too late -- I was long gone by the time they got to the road and started giving chase.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2011, 12:00:59 pm »
Woman mauled to death by pit bulls in New Mexico
EmailPrint..– Mon Apr 25, 9:31 pm ET
SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) – A woman has been mauled to death by a pack of four pit bulls in the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, authorities said on Monday.
Margaret Salcedo, 48, was walking alone when the dogs, which had escaped from a fenced yard at a private home, attacked her at an intersection on Sunday afternoon, Truth or Consequences Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said.
A passerby in a car opened his door to intervene, but he stayed in the vehicle when a dog charged him, police said.
"The officer arrived on the scene in less than three minutes, but it must have felt like an eternity to the poor woman being attacked," Gallagher told Reuters.
One of the dogs charged the officer, who shot and injured the animal, police said. All four dogs ran off, and the officer administered first aid to the wounded woman.
Salcedo was bitten on all her extremities and lost a lot of blood, Gallagher said. She was taken to a hospital, where she died within hours, he said.
The dogs were later located, and the animal that had been shot was dead from its injuries.
The other three dogs were taken to an animal shelter, but authorities said they will not make a determination on whether to destroy them until the conclusion of their investigation.
The dogs belonged to a couple named John and Maria Hardiman, who were not present during the attack, police said.New Mexico State Police officials were conferring with the local District Attorney's Office to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

Truth or Consequences is about 150 miles south of Albuquerque, and the town named after a television game show in 1950 is popular for its hot springs.

(Reporting by Zelie Polon; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2011, 12:07:02 pm »
Many thousand of people are killed by attacking dogs each year worldwide. It happenes here too. Above here you can see the latest example of it. Fout pit bulls. That was no fun dying that way I guarantee you. God. What next?

Generally, a little Rover running after you from the abject boredom of front-yard life is nothing to worry about. It is just a temporrary annoyance or a slow-down. A pack of dogs stalking you is, as they say in the south, a whole nother matter. Perhaps an ammonia and water water pistol is not such a bad idea after all.

Offline chrisenter

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2011, 08:37:29 am »
I hadn't read about the N.M. pit bull episode before my encounter with the dog pack. Which is probably just as well.

I do appreciate all the ideas/suggestions.

(BTW, I contacted the authorities about the loose pack of dogs. They said that particular area is unincorporated, so there's nothing they can do about it. Unincorporated=lawless, or so it seems.)

Offline habanero

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2011, 01:11:27 pm »
 >:(I did the TransAm last year and the dogs were really thick in western Virginia and most of Kentucky.  I just slowed down and did a lot of yelling.  I got a good video of some of them.  It on Day 21 in Kentucky on my journal at

Offline Awf Hand

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2011, 01:11:54 pm »
Halt! repellent is like a fire extinguisher.  You hope you never get need it.  I've given a couple of very aggressive dogs the 'hot sauce' while working in remote areas.  It could be a tough product to use while riding a bike.  If there is a wind..?  Angry dogs won't even look at a thrown bisquit either.  Most dogs know "No!", but multiple angry dogs? Dang.
If you do buy a spray, buy two and use one to familiarize yourself with its stream and range -esp. in wind.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How would you have handled this dog episode?
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2011, 12:14:46 pm »
After that incident in NM I would say, be prepared. The fact is that such attacks may be rare in the US and to cross-country cyclists, but the rarity of it would not be any comfort to a badly mauled victim or to the family of the deceased. I do not carry any sort of defensive weapon when I cycle, and that might just put me at a disadvantage where free-ranging dogs are the matter. American dogs are fairly well domesticated and soft, but they are still animals with a long genetic history of hunting and killing for survival, and that instinct for the run and the kill is hard wired into their DNA. Get a bunch of them together and who knows what might happen. It's better to be safe than it is to be sorry. Carry protection.