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How To Stop Dogs From Chasing Cyclists

05 Apr

I like dogs—they are usually friendly, fiercely loyal and have more common sense than a lot of people I know. Unfortunately, they can be extremely territorial and, like some motorists, they think they own the road (or at least the road in front of where they live). When a dog chases a cyclist it is usually because the dog thinks he is doing his job, i.e., protecting his property.

Halt! Dog Repellent

Halt! Dog Repellent

I wish I could tell you that I am always able to outrun dogs, but the truth is that sometimes I can’t, and beyond that, some dogs seem to come out of nowhere and attack without warning. You will never really know how fast you can pedal your bike until you are being chased by an angry Rottweiler. From personal experience I can tell that having a dog chase you is a great bit of motivation.

I always carry Halt! Dog Repellent with me on nighttime rides, off-road trails, and when I am checking out a new route for the first time. I started carrying Halt! Dog Repellent several years ago after two small dogs refused to allow me to get past them on a bike trail. It finally took a well-placed rock the size of a softball for the mutts to back off and let me pass.

Halt! Dog Repellent contains capsaicin (chili-peppers) and shoots out a pressurized spray that has an effective range of about 10 feet. This product has been used by the U.S. Postal Service for 35 years and works well. A couple of years ago I was on a bike trail when a dog came out of nowhere and was very intent on sinking his teeth into my right ankle. I pulled out the Halt! Dog Repellent and just as I was about to spray it the dog apparently recognized the can and ran away. I can only imagine that somewhere along the way that dog had a postal worker introduce him to Halt! Dog Repellent and he decided not to try it again.

Last spring a little ankle-biter chased after me and I could have outrun him, but it was on a very busy road and I was worried that some other cyclist might get hit by a car while trying to avoid this little creature. I stopped my bike by the side of the road and was about to spray the dog when a little boy came running out of the house calling for his dog. When the boy got close to me I told him that I like dogs, but I don’t like being chased. I then said, “Son, if your dog chases me again I am going to spray him with this can of pepper spray—he won’t like it, but it won’t kill him. Now go inside your house and tell your parents what I told you.” A few days later I was back on that same road and the little ankle-biter came running after me again, so I stopped and gave him a face full of pepper spray—he took off running towards the house yipping like you wouldn’t believe. Before any of you dog-lovers get upset I want you to know that I probably saved his life—he had to dart into traffic just to chase me and it would only be a matter of time before he got hit by a car. The good news is that the rest of the year the dog decided to stay on the front porch of the house every time I went by.

On off-road night rides I run into a lot of varmints (both four-legged and two-legged) and I always feel safer knowing I have a can of Halt! Dog Repellent in my jersey. You can find Halt! Dog Repellent at many bike shops—if the shop you use doesn’t carry it you can easily find it on Amazon.com.

 
51 Comments

Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Bicycle Safety

 

Tags: , , , ,

51 responses to “How To Stop Dogs From Chasing Cyclists

  1. Chatter Master

    April 5, 2013 at 5:09 AM

    I wish I would have had this years ago. I am leery of riding my bike around dogs. A little post dog trauma. One came after me on a quick ride my husband and I were on. I was coming off of a slight downhill, slowing down, maybe going 18-20 mph. He stuck with me too long. I went to pick up speed and he attacked the bike! Threw me head first in to the pavement. Hospital three days, broken hip, separated shoulder, etc…. I think I’ll get me some of this. :)

     
  2. Katie

    April 5, 2013 at 5:21 AM

    Great to know! No dogs have gotten close, but I had two large dogs following me up a long climb where speed was not an option. Although, that was the fastest I ever went up that hill. Good thing it was not a busy road because they could have easily gotten hurt.

     
  3. canadianinjersey

    April 5, 2013 at 5:50 AM

    I’ve had my scariest dog moments on rural roads. A dog trainer I worked with gave me some advice that has worked for me for 20 years, when you see the dog as it starts to come at you. It turns out that once dogs pick a line to their target they will not be able to process speed changes from that point. So, as I’ve tested many times, if you pause very briefly until the dog picks their line, then gear up and sprint, the dog will always end up behind you when they get to the road. Maybe not by much, but most dogs give up quickly if they start from behind. That being said, I’ve carried pepper spray on new routes.

    My scariest encounter was on a very rural road where a big dog (never got a close enough look to see his breed) came at me from behind a hedge. No growling or barking, just straight at me. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and started sprinting without even time to gear up. He went for my leg and just missed, but ran straight into my back wheel almost hard enough to knock me over. I kept going, but stopped half a mile down the road to assess the damage. The dog hit my rear wheel so hard, the rim itself was cracked around 3 or 4 spoke holes. One spoke was broken, and the brakes were rubbing with the wheel wobble. I had to completely release the rear brake for the 30 miles home, and then had to rebuild the wheel with a new rim. That’s the incident that got me to buy pepper spray.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 9:45 AM

      Sounds like good advice — I’ll have to try it and see if the dogs read the same book! :)

       
  4. Michael Lee McRoy

    April 5, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    Does this stuff have a good cap on it, would like to carry on bike with me would not like for it to spray while in my jersey!

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      This can does not have a cap, but it will not accidentally go off in your pocket — you have to put your finger into the slot on top of the can and press down for it to go off.

       
  5. hughonabike

    April 5, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    A good post and worth further discussion. I tooled up with a small can of pepper spray after a particularly harrowing encounter with a dog pack ( about 4 or 5 I think, I didn’t stop to count them ) in the middle of a mountain pass in Spain. They came out of nowhere. I managed to outrun them and they gave up after a bit and don’t mind telling you, it was pretty scary. Carrying a can of pepper spray is well worth considering.

    PS, I’ve now lost it………..

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 9:49 AM

      With four or five dogs chasing you a can of bear spray might have been an better option. In some parts of the United States cyclists carry bear spray because of holds a lot more of the spray and shoots much further (it is also good on two-legged animals as well).

       
  6. billgncs

    April 5, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    I had a case last night where a small dog nearly got me. The owner made a joke about it being 11 pounds of dog, but I told her if he gets under the wheel it probably breaks his spine.

    It’s never a good thing.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 9:49 AM

      You are right about it snapping their spine — not good for anyone involved.

       
  7. Brittany Breaux

    April 5, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    Interesting tactic for night routes or routes where you know the dogs are bad; I’ve already had two dog attacks where they’ve nipped my shoe this year. My dad had a nasty attack on his commute where a junk yard dog bit a chunk out of his leg. I’ll be forwarding this to him!

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      Two dogs and the year is still young — I’d get the dog spray if I were you!

       
  8. anniebikes

    April 5, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    I was about to reprimand you for doing injustice to an animal because outrunning a dog only enhances your training…however, you make a good case. It’s an interesting bit of logic: saving a dog’s life with pepper spray. And so true.

    Another option that used to be built-in: frame pumps. Less effective, but it was sure handy while touring.

    Or, dog grenades! Honestly, I’ve read about that.

    http://anniebikes.blogspot.com/2012/11/bicycles-vs-dogs-age-old-story.html

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      I just read your article about the old gunpowder-filled anti-dog grenades. If you used one today it would be a great way to meet the folks from the FBI, CIA, ATF and Department of Homeland Security.

       
      • Shonnie

        April 5, 2013 at 1:15 PM

        hahaha

         
      • anniebikes

        April 5, 2013 at 4:16 PM

        It’s good to laugh. Thanks for an insightful article. I see it’s provoked a lot of comments.

         
  9. Mountainstroh (Tony)

    April 5, 2013 at 8:40 AM

    Knock kn woe, but I haven’t been chased since a Great Dane in high school. Good job on te ankle biter, you warned him! Make sure to know which way the wind is blowing before you squirt it though…

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 9:53 AM

      Thank you for mentioning the wind — I always check before I spray, but forgot to mention it in the article.

       
  10. Cherry

    April 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    I’m lucky to have never been chased my dogs just yet, only admiring them as they obediently heel beside their owner on the sidewalk. Have you experimented using this for 2-legged varmints yet?

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      I haven’t, but the folks at the local Post Office said it works great on people as well as dogs.

       
  11. Alex's Cycle

    April 5, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    Finally a solution to all those times I have been chased by dogs! I didn’t even know you could get this stuff, glad to know that it works well too :)

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      It works well and you really don’t even have to slow down to use it — just aim carefully.

       
  12. Forrest

    April 5, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    You might be better off spraying the dog’s owner…

    The few encounters I’ve had with dogs were pretty low key, but always in semi-populated rural areas. This has simply never been a problem in urban riding. Usually if I just stop, the dog realizes it can’t chase me, and loses interest pretty quickly.

     
    • Shonnie

      April 5, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      hahaha …. I did yell at the owner of the dogs that chased me last. :D

       
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      I like the idea of spraying the owners!

       
  13. doctorlynn

    April 5, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    This would be good for joggers too. I was jogging (shuffling) around my neighborhood a long time ago and a big dog in a yard almost, almost jumped the fence to chase after me. Scary….happened another time when I was walking my now 15 year old in a stroller. At that time I had a bat in the basket underneath his seat. I pulled over on the grass and waited for the dog to get closer but his owner (who let him go off the leash) called him back just in time. Whew…that was close! I always have pepper spray now but never heard of this particular product. Good info…

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      There have been times I wish I carried a bat (mainly for use on cars).

       
  14. Shonnie

    April 5, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    The last time we were on the trail riding these two little dogs kept chasing me. I could sort of out run them, but they kept darting at my wheels … I slowed down and kicked them. I felt bad, but I really don’t want to crash on the path because a dog’s owners haven’t taught him manners. I sure wish I had that. I will be getting some. Thanks for sharing.

     
  15. Joy

    April 5, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Before reading your post, I was going to argue it, but you do have really good points. Nicely written.

     
  16. kellydomara

    April 5, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    I’m always terrified of dogs chasing me down. Interesting…

     
  17. Kay BeeBee

    April 5, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    My worst cycling encounter with a dog was when I tried to put a sprint on to pass the dog and realised too late that the dog was on an extendable dog lead attached to its owner on the opposite side of the path. I got brought down and the force of hitting the floor cracked a tooth which had to be extracted and replaced with an expensive bridge. I was sooooooo furious with the stupid owner she would have got a blast of this stuff if it had been in my pocket.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 5, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      I’ve had a lot of close calls with dogs on leashes as well! The owner is usually on the right side of a trail and just before I pass them the dog on a long leash runs to the other side! People that stupid should not be allowed to own dogs in the first place.

       
  18. kruzmeister

    April 5, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    Fantastic post thanks for sharing, I am only relatively new to cycling again (18 months) and did not even know a product like this existed. I’ll definitely be arming myself with a can from here on in, thanks again. Love your blog! – Simone

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Thank you very much! A can of this stuff could save you from a lot of pain and aggravation.

       
  19. Irish Katie

    April 6, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Like Joy, I was going to put up an arugement … but … the reality is that the situations you mention do exist. I blame the dog owners … but its the pups that have to pay the price normally. Sad.

    I have only had one experience to date with dog aggression whilst riding. I saw the pup from about a few blocks away. Apparently he saw me too as he came out of his lane and was waiting for me in the middle of the road. He was being super aggressive. Admittedely, he caused me to change my route.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      Smart move to change routes — I try that when I can, but sometimes it is not possible. The good news is that the spray does not do any lasting damage — they will be back to normal in less than an hour — and they will have learned a valuable lesson as well. However, if given the option, I would much rather spray the owner than the dog.

       
      • Irish Katie

        April 6, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        *deciding if I want to have you take out the letter ‘r’ in the word ‘spray’ at last sentence*

        *smirkles*

         
  20. Bob Rogers

    April 6, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Thanks for this article. I will look for this product. I have had a few dogs chase me, but usually the adrenaline causes me to take off and leave the dogs behind. However, I’d like to be prepared for the surprise attack or when I’m climbing a hill and can’t outrace the dog. I have taken the metal water bottle and held it out as a weapon if they get too close, but never had to use it. I have heard people say that if the dog is attacking, you can get off the bicycle and hold the bicycle between you and the dog as a shield. Is that a good idea?

     
    • hughonabike

      April 6, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      Depends how big the dog is………….Best just get the hell outa Dodge.

       
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Some cyclists carry a small air pump and it makes a nice weapon as well. You are correct about putting your bike between you and the dog. There have been a few times when I’ve done this and just yelled at the dog and they left me alone — it doesn’t always work, but worth a shot. If the bike is between you and the dog and he decides to attack you can always with the dog with your bike — fortunately I’ve not had to do this yet (always worried about bending a rim).

       
  21. Dennis O'Neil

    April 6, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    I used the spray one time. I too warned the owner. But the dog came after me on the next ride. He was running in front of cars that might have veered into me. I sprayed the dog who was about a foot from biting my leg. Never saw him again. I like dogs but the owners need to be responsible. One tip-it can lose some of its pressure after time. Check it each year.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      You are right that it does lose pressure after a period of time (not sure how long). I just buy a new can every year. Also, cold weather will impact how far the spray will go — in cold weather it drops the distance down by several feet.

       
  22. thewindykitchen

    April 7, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    wow, I didn’t realize dogs can be such a nuisance to cyclists! I do get annoyed with the occasional off the leash dogs that almost trip you while running, but I haven’t been chased by one yet :-D

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 7, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      It’s not just the fact they might bite you — when a dog starts chasing after a cyclist neither one of them pays any attention to traffic and they both have a great chance of getting hit by a car.

       
  23. F. Mohr

    April 17, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    I wear a water bladder on my back and fill one water bottle with gatorade. I drink about half the gatorade before I reach 20 miles and then I really dont want it anymore.
    So this dog came after me and I wasn’t going to out run him cause I was on a hill so I squirted the gatorade in his face. It was all hot from the sun and sticky with sugar….he backed right off!

     

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