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Dogs on training routes

I’m starting to train for RAGBRAI and I seem to run across dogs on every single training route I try. I am lucky enough to be in a rural area, so most of my riding is cornfields and I encounter very little vehicular traffic. But there are quite a few farm dogs who aren’t fenced or restrained at all and have been chasing me. It’s surprising how fast they are! The houses are set back from the road quite a ways, so the dogs see me coming early and have plenty of time to charge the road at me – I really have to kick into high gear to outrun them. My biggest concern is that the dog will lunge at me and we’ll both end up injured as I crash at 25 or 30mph trying to outrun the dog. I haven’t had a close call yet, but I worry that time will come.

Any tips? Do dogs typically lunge or jump at a bike going full speed, or are they more likely to run along side and bark?
Should I just stop, dismount, remove the temptation for the dog to chase a fast moving object and then continue out of sight of the dog? Or will I get eaten by doing that? I’ve been carrying pepperspray with me in case I have a nasty confrontation. I’m a dog lover – I’d hate to do that.

11 Replies

T. Gap Woo, March 16, 2018 at 10:50 am

Todd,

I used to have that problem where I do my training rides. Besides dogs, I’ve encountered black bears and deer along the rail trails through the woods. I solved the problem with noise. A few honks on my ooga horn scares the critters away. It also works for geese, squirrels and other “dangerous” wildlife like folks with headphones that are otherwise oblivious to their surroundings.

Some folks use super soakers full of water, if they can figure out how to carry it safely, and this works too.

See you along the I-O-Way in July.

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cdgrn1, March 16, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Todd,

I bike a regular route and encounter the same dogs every time. Most just want to race beside me and I’m OK with that, others have gotten fairly aggressive and nipped at me. I started squirting the aggressive dogs with water from my water bottle. It’s been very effective. The racers still come out and race, the aggressive dogs have quit chasing me altogether. They just stay in the yard.

My advice, get a water bottle that will squirt a steady stream for about 8 feet. It will only take a squirt or two in the face before the dog will realize you are no fun to play with.

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mootsman, March 16, 2018 at 1:43 pm

cdgrn1 is right, many want to race. Some are playful but dumb like the one that ran out in front of my wheel abruptly causing me to crash into a fence along a bike trail bridge. Once in a great while they are genuinely nasty and mean to get you. Usually that would be a German Shepard, Pit Bull or Doberman. And pepper spray is not always effective either. But you need to judge the intent as best possible and go to the pepper spray only if needed. I’ve needed it maybe 5 times total. And if that doesn’t work I usually have another counter measure of last resort that I have never needed (if they actually clamp down on my leg) in 40 years of riding. It’s only real use has been keeping me from being too concerned about dog attacks.

This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by  mootsman.

This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by  mootsman.

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Terry Hunt, March 16, 2018 at 1:49 pm

I personally had a small dog get between my front wheel and down tube and almost went down. I also knew a man who was killed when a dog did the same thing to him while he was riding with his daughter. I talk to the dogs and that sometimes works, then I spray them with my water bottle. If none else works I stop. Stopping usually confuses them and they also stop. I love dogs so then I pet them (not really recommended because it rewards them for chasing bikes)

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Bruce Woodrow, March 17, 2018 at 8:40 pm

I ride a recumbent trike and we trikers are a lot closer to the ground than folks on uprights. Unlikely that a dog could stumble into the trike but we are at face to face level, so a nip is more likely to our head than our leg!

I ride a lot on rural roads in Ontario 🇨🇦 and so far I have never had a dog do more than race along side.

Various Facebook trike forums have discussed this issue. The majority favour either a horn (loud) or something that squirts (water) or both. A few carry a cane that can deliver a shock and, there being lots of Americans on these forums, there is the occasional post that this is why the person “carries” while riding (sigh).

I have now added a horn to my trike.

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jake d, March 18, 2018 at 12:40 pm

For 28 years I have been fortunate to not have a bad encounter with a dog. I ride a lot with my wife and if She yells at them, they usually turn tail and run. Unfortunately my wife was not with me 2 weeks ago and I didn’t see the dog until he was almost to the road, and I got bit. Not bad but it hurt like hell. Good news, the dog was current on his shots.
I love dogs as much as anyone, but they do present a real danger to cyclist even when they are friendly. I contacted Animal Control so everything was handled properly. I told the officer I really didn’t think the dog was mean, he could have really clamped down instead of just a nip.
The officer told me anytime a dog leaves it’s property to chase a person, that is a dangerous enough situation that they need to be notified.
So…the latest accessary to my bike is pepper spray I can attach to my top tube.

This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by  jake d.

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knees36, March 18, 2018 at 9:29 pm

I have two training routes that I use quite often. Dogs are on both of them and sometimes I ride on a third one that I end up on toward the beginning of RAGBRAI. My Marlo route (named after the dog on that route) always comes out and barks at me. I’ve tried all kinds of things, but Marlo doesn’t get any too close and barks until I leave. I’ve sat on the side of the road talking to him, but he just stands and barks. I’ve talked to his master during these meetings Marlo just barks. I have another route where two dogs come out and barks. The little rascal just barks and acts like he’d tear me to pieces but never comes close to me. The older and slower dog just lays down on my side of road and wags his tail and begs for some petting which I give to him. When I go to the end of that route (about a half mile away) and turn around and head back to his “territory” he gets to the other side of the road and lays down so I stop and pet him some more. I think he loves me. His owner just gets a kick out of all this. So do I. In my 35+ years of biking I’ve been bitten only once. This dog didn’t bark at me but waited until I went past him/her then came out of a lilac hedge ran up behind me (I could hear his/her toenails clicking on the pavement) and bit me on my heel. I just knew I was going to get bitten since the dog did not bark at me. As my practice I got off my bike and sat down on the shoulder and started talking to her. Pretty soon I was able to pet her, After about 10to 15 minutes of that I got up, mounted my bike and the dog disappeared into the lilac hedge from which she came. I took a swig of water put my shoes in the pedal and here she came out again. I thought, “O crap, I’m going to get bit again.” But “no”. She brought her puppies out for me to pet so I got off my bike and we had a good time together, me and her and her puppies. After about another 10 to 15 minutes again on the side of the road I mounted my bike, wiped the tears from my face and headed out. I had made a new friend and how I treated her and her family was paramount. My options when dogs come out are to get off my bike and sit down and talk to them in a calm voice but not look them too hard in the eyes. Usually they stop barking (some don’t because I’m in their territory.) Over time I’ve seen a change in the dogs that I meet, especially after the third or fourth time. Usually the smaller the dog the more guff I get from them. Larger dogs are usually more friendly.

The two dogs that I ran into in Kentucky many years ago were a different story. Maybe I can tell this one at a later time. Cheers. Knees36.

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montestaples, March 19, 2018 at 12:51 am

Many years ago, even before I had pedals with toe clips, I rode with platform pedals. I got really good at timing a little side kick to the nose just as a well known German Shepherd went for my ankle. After a few times getting kicked in the nose he would just bark as I rode by. I am not too sure I could do that with today’s pedals. In recent years I have not had any run-ins with dogs that I couldn’t out-run (out-ride?). I have had a few other animal incidents. Several years ago I thought there was a big stick across the bike trail until it moved about 6 inches. I missed a 6 ft long bull snake’s nose by about 1/8 inch. I have had deer race along side me for 200 yards. I came within a few inches of broadsiding a deer before she finally moved. Yelling at her to move several times had no effect but apparently the phrase “Oh crap!” has some meaning in deer-speak. I have learned that whistling will get deer to move out of the way. I once approached a mama racoon with 5-6 babies each about the size of a baseball. The mama left the trail but the babies just huddled into a tight circle until I passed about 2 feet away. Then they broke ranks and all of them chased after me growling in there little racoon voices. I surprised a squirrel that jumped straight up about 4 feet, spun around, and swatted me above the elbow with it’s tail. I was riding at night, a few years ago, about to go down the Dam Hill at Saylorville Lake when I rounded a corner and thought sure I saw a mountain lion about 20 feet in front of me. It quickly disappeared into the brush and I never quite got my light on him so I quickly talked myself out of it since I had never heard of a mountain lion in Iowa. However I think I set a personal speed record for the Dam Hill downhill that night. A couple weeks later a cop shot a mountain lion a few miles from there.

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Hobes, March 19, 2018 at 7:36 am

Use Halt. Very effective and stops them in their tracks. Yelling helps but Halt stops.

I once wrote a letter to the dog owner, that worked. Owners are much more responsible than 30 years ago. At least around here. Dogs have not changed.

My favorite run in was with a possum. He came out of nowhere and knocked me to the ground. 5 broken ribs, a punctured lung and cracked hip. I spent 5 days in the hospital. I believe he walked away slightly stunned but unhurt. You never know, a possum would seem slow and safe but beware!

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mootsman, March 19, 2018 at 7:53 am

The friendly dog that cashed my crash I posted in my earlier reply was easy to follow back to his house. Being on a bike trail I just thought of all the kids on the trail who would have had a much worse crash had the dog cut in front of them. I let the owner know (calm voice) that had it been a kid they would have likely had bad injuries and he’d be starring a lawsuit from the parent in the face instead of me. That he needed to keep the dog restrained since he lives right next to a popular bike trail. I even said I was OK paying to repair my cracked carbon frame that resulted from the crash as long as he promised to keep the dog under control.

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Charles McDonald, March 19, 2018 at 8:45 pm

My advice to my wife when riding in rural Nova Scotia on our honeymoon was to get off the bike, yell at the dog, keep the bike between yourself and the dog, and to walk away from their territory. Sounds easy. Her actual response to a large black farm dog charging at her was to break down in tears and just stop. My knee-jerk adrenal-charged reaction was to take my bike pump off the bike and chase the dog with the intention of stuffing the pump down the dog’s throat. By the time the farmer showed up, it was total bedlam. My response to him was that I was trying to kill his dog. By then the dog was running in crazy circles, having realized that an insane man is not a good bite target. Moral of the story — no one should listen to advice that they will not implement nor should they behave like me!

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