When riding on a bike tour or out on any given day you might encounter a loose dog. Dogs are naturally interested in things that move, click, whir, and come into their territory. A cyclist can seem almost irresistible.
Knowing some tactics for dealing with dogs can help you stay safer during that encounter. Many of these great tips are from an article on RoadBiker.com
Why Dogs Chase Bikes
The majority of dogs who chase bicycles are defending their territory. Other dogs are interested in chasing things or are curious about you. Remember, a small dog can cause just as bad a crash as a big dog.
How Dogs Chase and Attack Bikes
A dog will sometimes give chase from the yard, dashing across an open space and entering the road. Other dogs will stand in the road and block passage. Some bark, but not all.
Dogs often attack from the rear, coming up from the side. A dog may wait for you to pass then give chase. You can sometimes use this to your advantage, a quick sprint might do the job of shaking the chasing dog.
Road Bike Rider Rules for Dogs That Chase Bikes
- DO NOT KICK – Kicking at the dog while riding has been called “suicide on a bike”. You can easily fall or become tangled with the dog.
- Consider a sprint, but carefully! You might be able to out sprint the dog when he’s not determined or just intimidating you. “You can tell his intent by how hard he’s running and his expression. An easy gait with woofing and ears and tail up, no problem. A full-out sprint with ears back, tail down and teeth out, problem.” If you choose to sprint do so with caution. Erratic movements can lead to a crash.
- Guard your front wheel. “When a dog sees you coming, he might make a beeline for your bike, then attempt to turn up beside you. The danger here is that his poor little paws will skid on the pavement and he’ll plow into your wheels. If he hits the front one, you’ll crash.” Sprinting can put you out front, move forward faster than he expects, and give him a margin for error by steering away if the road and traffic permit.
- SCREAM! Try NO, OFF, STAY, BACK, loud bold words may surprise the dog and cause him/her to hesitate for just the second you need to take the advantage. You can also try raising a hand or waving your arm like you are throwing something. Again the priority is to maintain your seat on the bike.
- Spray water- Take out your water bottle. Just holding it may serve as a deterrent. “If he does come near you, give him a faceful and a loud yell.” Again, watch your riding. Don’t crash.
- Halt pepper spray- clip this to your handlebar. Can be challenging to aim and affected by wind. Good to have around.
- Get off the bike- If other tactics are not working or seem dangerous get off the bike and put your bike between you and the dog. Swing the bike like a weapon if necessary, and start yelling for help.
- Call the cops. “If you are attacked and bitten, report it to the county sheriff or other authority immediately. Include the location, a description of the dog and the owner’s name and address if you know them. Get medical attention without delay. If the dog was rabid, you are at risk of serious illness or even death. Demand proof of rabies vaccination or insist to authorities that the dog be quarantined.”
Knowing in advance how to deal with dogs can help you reduce the chances of being bitten and crashing. A dog that just wants to give chase, but is not a real bite threat can still lead to a fatal crash. So think smart when you encounter a dog. Your life can depend on your actions.
Dogs can appear out of nowhere.
On Bike Virginia we have seen many dog encounters, most are over in seconds and everyone and dog are fine. Sadly, one crash at the event in 2008 resulting in a life changing head injury.A dog chased and struck the cyclist’s front wheel, the rider was airlifted from the site and spent many months in neurological care. We hope never to have another life affected by a dog related attack or crash.
We want you to stay safe and have a great vacation so please pay attention, expect dogs to be anywhere, and act with caution.