Here is some guidance from the dog training company Bark Busters:
Whether you are a runner or cyclist who has been chased by a dog, or a dog owner who has had to endure the embarrassment of your dog chasing a runner or cyclist where nothing you try will stop them, then we hope this article will be of interest.
As a runner or cyclist, you may have been chased by an off-lead dog who has ignored his owner’s desperate calls to return to them. You could only look down in horror whilst the dog chased you, barked at you, maybe nipped and jumped at you. You may even have experienced the real fear that this dog might attack and injure you. Even if the dog just wants to play, it’s not much fun and certainly not helpful when you are trying to exercise.
We always advise owners to ensure that their dog’s recall is totally reliable before allowing them off lead in public spaces. Obviously, should an owner not be in total control, or lack confidence in their ability to recall their dog, then the dog should be on a lead. This is for their own safety as well as that of other users.
However, this is not to say that the onus is completely upon the dog walker and their dog to respect other users of the public space. We have frequently seen situations where a jogger or cyclist suddenly appears from a side path or from behind the dog and owner. This sudden appearance can spook both dog and owner into a fear reaction and may result in the dog feeling that they need protect themselves and their owner, from this unexpected threat.
This is obviously a very unwelcome and unwanted traumatic situation for all involved. Here are a few tips on avoiding such a scenario, and possibly saving yourself from being bitten.
- If you are a runner or jogger, you will NEVER be able to outrun a dog!! If a cyclist, keeping moving may cause the dog to jump and unseat you causing a fall and the possibility of being hurt from the fall as well as bitten.
- If you are approaching someone walking with their dog and they have not seen or heard you, please politely shout out to let them know – “Jogger behind you”, “Bike”, or similar whilst still a distance away from them. This will alert them to your presence and enable them to put their dog on lead or control it verbally and move out of your way calmly.
- If the dog is on lead, after alerting the owner to your presence, pass by leaving a wide gap of around 6ft (2 metres), as the dog may lunge if you pass by too close.
- If you find that a dog is chasing you, stop, stand still or stop riding your bike, keep your arms still, do not speak, and avoid staring at the dog. Staring can be perceived as a challenge to a dog, so just cross your arms or protect any vulnerable body parts! If with a bike put the bike between you and the dog. Standing still will allow the owner to come up to you to get the dog and to apologise to you!
- Do not get angry, shout or start waving your arms or kicking out at the dog, this will simply inflame the situation and cause a more intense reaction from the dog. It could cause a full-on attack and, depending on the size of the dog, result in severe injuries.
- One of the best ways to prevent such situations is to understand that you may be sharing the space with dogs and their owners so be prepared! Invest in some high-value dry dog treats that you can keep in a sniff-proof bag, but which are easily accessible. Then, if a dog does start to chase you, you should simply slow to a stop or walk, throwing a small handful of treats in a wide arc behind you to distract the dog into hunting for the treats. Then you can hopefully continue on your way.
Clearly, we would all like to aim for a system of mutual cooperation and appreciation between dog walkers and other users of public open spaces. By all parties appreciating the need for safety for all, and by making a few small adjustments and allowances for the needs of others, we are hopeful that the incidences of injuries to joggers and cyclists from dogs will be greatly reduced.
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Bark Busters® and is intended for information purposes only. Dog owners should fully research any problems that they may have with their dogs.
Their full article can be read here.