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Dealing With Dogs

No matter how pet-friendly you are, dogs can be a major problem for bicyclists.

Dogs can sense fear, so try to remain calm if you encounter an angry canine. You’ll feel more confident, and the dog likely will sense this too. Dogs tend to be territorial. Once you leave “their” territory, they will usually lose interest. However, if a dog does chase you, here are some options. Think ahead of time about which are right for you.

  • Don’t try to outrun the dog unless you are a very strong rider. If you can’t completely outrun it, the dog may catch your wheel and knock you down.
  • While on the bike, don’t try anything beyond your bike-handling skills.
  • In a loud, firm voice say, “No!” “Bad dog!” “Go Home!” or other common commands.
  • Carry pepper spray or a commercial dog deterrent spray, and use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Carry an “English Bobby”-style or dog-training whistle; they can often stop charging dogs in their tracks and send them home.
  • Just stop. If you do, the dog may also stop, allowing you to walk or ride slowly away.
  • Get off your bike quickly; if the dog attacks, use your bike as a barrier.
  • If a dog is a recurring problem, try to photograph it. Send a polite complaint letter with the photo to the owners as well as copies to the police and local animal authority. In the letter say that, if the dog hurts someone, the letter constitutes notice to the homeowners, which may be used in a lawsuit against them.