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.
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.