Friday, May 22, 2015

Tip of the Day: Get off Your Bike if a Dog Chases You

Making it Worse?

We are asked this question quite frequently: What should I do if a dog chases me or my kids while we are riding our bikes? Most adults assume that if they have good speed they can outride a dog. A cyclist in our area was badly injured when dog ran down a farm lane barking at him. He sped up to try to get away from the dog, lost control on the gravel shoulder and fell off his bike. The dog sniffed him and walked away.

Avoid a Chase

Kids on bikes should never assume that they can ride faster than a dog can run, because most likely they can't. If confronted by a dog while riding a bike, the best thing to do is to stop and if there is time get off the bike so that the bike is between you and the dog.

The main motivation for the dog is the chase and when there is nothing to chase the dog will lose interest. If the dog does catch a moving cyclist this could result in serious injuries both from the fall and from the dog, whose natural instinct is to bite and shake prey that it has caught. It is best to defuse the situation by removing the dog's motivation to chase.

Some people have been told that they should get off the bike, but keep moving so as to keep the bike between them and the dog. This movement will just keep the dog interested longer. It is best to stand still even if the dog circles around the bike to investigate and even if the dog is barking and acting aggressively.

A Note to Cyclists on Busy Trails

If you see a person walking a dog on a leash ahead of you, make some noise to warn the dog handler so that they can move over to give you room to pass. They will be more than happy to do this. If there is only a narrow passing area, please slow down, or even better, get off your bike and walk past (with your bike between you and the dog, just in case). If the dog handler looks like they are having trouble with the dog, or they have multiple dogs, you are advised to walk your bike past. Blasting past pedestrians with a few inches to spare is not cool (dog or no dog) and could result in a surprised dog pulling loose and chasing you. In some mixed use trails, there could be loose dogs, be ready to stop if the dog looks like it might give chase. You may be fast, but a large breed dog in peak condition is faster.

Here is a video that shows the wrong thing to do if a dog chases you while you are riding a bike. Notice that when the cyclist moves the bike to try to keep the dog on the other side of it, this just makes the dog more interested in him. As soon as he stops moving the dog loses interest.

Here is a video that shows the right thing to do. Notice how much less interested the dog is when the cyclist stands still, compared to the previous video, when he kept moving around.


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