Photo by boxercabDogs and runners have a love/hate relationship (usually hate.) As a runner, we are invading their turf, putting their owners in danger, moving fast enough to look interesting and tasty, or just have some bright colors on that makes the dog think that we are a toy. There are a lot of reasons for a dog to chase us, and for the most part they are valid reasons. Sometimes the dog just wants to play with us, or to come over and say hi, and sometimes the dog wants to hunt and maim us.
I was recently asked what do you do when a dog is not on a leash, and it looks like it may want to chase you?
I have had mostly good luck following the steps below, but I will also be the first to admit that I have also been bitten before. I have not been bitten very many times, and I plan on continuing to follow these steps as being the least intrusive to my run, the least danger to both myself and to the dog, and from my own experience has the highest success rate.
What to do when a dog chases you:
- Stare down at the dog before he really starts making his move, even if you have to slow down and/or walk backwards.
- Make an effort to move away from his turf or his owner so that he doesn’t feel as threatened while you are asserting your dominance, which is what you are doing in step number 1. Move slowly; you want to discourage the dog from chasing you, and not give it a new game.
- Talk to the dog and try to calm it down. I will usually say, “Good puppy” or something like that in a soothing voice to try to calm the dog down and show that I am not a threat. It probably helps that I have a deep voice.
- If he makes a break for you, stop and bring your hands, arms and legs in towards your body. If you are a man, put your hands in front of your crotch so that the dog can not bite you there. You want your body to be in a straight line so that there is nothing hanging off of you for the dog to attack and grab hold of. Many dogs are just friendly want to play with you or check you out; I don’t assume that the dog going to bite me until it does, but I also do not want to make it easier for the dog to injure me.
- If you are bit by the dog, kick it in the head. If you can, try to kick it below its muzzle on its chin as that will cause the most pain while being the least likely to permanently injure the dog. The goal is to give it one good lick that will teach it not to bite runners in the future and hopefully confusing or hurting it enough to leave you alone in the present. Get away from the dog, and call the game warden or your local sheriff at the first possible convenience.
- Start moving away or continue your run depending upon whether the dog just wants to sniff you or is being playful or is still threatening to bite. Unless you were bit, do not move too fast until there is some distance between you and the dog. You can probably out run a dog over the long haul, but in a sprint you are all too likely to lose.
Photo by James CharronWhen I am confronted by a dog, I do not want to hurt it. If I am attacked, though, I will do what I have to in order to protect myself. It is not the dog’s fault if it attacks you; it is the dog’s owner’s fault. A dog should not be let to run loose in a settled area without supervision; in many places that is illegal.
If a dog chases you off of its property, then you should call the sheriff or game warden even if it does not bite you. The owner will probably get upset with you no matter what happens, but if they have been served a warning to keep their dog under control then there is a slim chance that they might actually put it on a leash or stand outside with it to keep it under control. This will make the dog less likely to hurt a runner or a passing child or anybody else, and it will also protect the dog from getting hurt by traffic.
If you are bit by a dog, and it breaks your skin, then you should probably go to the emergency room and make sure that you are up to date on any vaccinations and shots that you might need, as well as to patch up any tears that you can not treat yourself at home. Rabies is not the only thing that you would need to worry about, and in fact is probably unlikely, but the treatment right after you are bit is much less painful than the treatment that you would get if you gave yourself time to succumb to the infection.
What others do when a dog chases you:
My method is not the only way of dealing with dogs, and it may not even be the best method. Here are some other methods that people I know have tried to varying degrees of success:
- Run away as fast as possible. I am not a fan of this method, as it only encourages the dog to chase you. If you have enough of a lead, then you might be able to get far enough away that it will give up and go home, but I do not really trust my sprinting abilities that much.
- Carry mace or pepper spray. Mace or pepper spray can be useful not only against dogs but also against two-legged assailants. I do not like carrying anything more on a run then I have to, though, and 99% of the time I do not get chased. Another problem that weapons pose are that they can be used against you, and are really only useful if you want to hurt something. I prefer not to hurt the dog until it has definitively shown me that I am in danger.
- Throw an imaginary rock. I have never tried this, but I have heard a few people use this method. Maintain eye contact with the dog and reach down to the ground for a rock, even if there isn’t one there. Stand up, cock your arm, and make a throwing motion at the dog. Supposedly, this will usually scare the dog away. If it doesn’t, though, then you are only teaching the dog that he doesn’t have to be afraid of you, and may encourage him to attack you. I have never tried this, though.
- Yell, clap your hands, and stomp your feet. While I have on occasion yelled to make a noise and startle the dog, I have had less success compared to trying to use a soothing voice. The problem with clapping your hands or stomping your feet is that it provides a target for the animal and might encourage it to jump on you if it isn’t startled away.
My dog history
I have been chased by numerous dogs before. Sometimes, the dog will want to run with me, and even had one keep up for about 9 or 10 miles. I had to drive it home, since there was a river and a few bridges in between the end of our run and the dog’s home.
Usually, the dog is only trying to protect its home or its owner, and is satisfied when I leave them both in peace and move away. My run might slow down for the 20 seconds it takes to pass a driveway, but otherwise we both manage to get along just fine.
Photo by Lance McCordNow and again, a dog will really want to play and be friendly, but it is hard to tell the difference sometimes between a dog tearing after you to play and dog chasing you to hunt. I have also been bitten by a dog before when it wanted to play, and it obviously was not trying to hurt me so I just let it be. He was just overly excited and his owner had slipped on the ice and lost control of him.
And a couple of times, I have been bit. When I lived in Connecticut, there was a dog that chased me any time that it was outside when I ran by. I was in my teens and it had not yet occurred to me that I could call the game warden to control the animal. After it had chased me perhaps 8 or 9 times, it managed to catch up to me once before I was far enough away from its house for it to lose interest, and it bit my leg. That was the first time (of only twice) that I have felt a need to kick the dog. It yelped and ran away, and it never bothered me again.
The second time I was attacked by a dog and felt a need to kick it, the dog bit at my hip through my winter running clothes and clawed at my legs. Thankfully, I had full length pants on. The owner threatened to call the police on me when I had the gall to kick his dog when the dog ran out of his yard, ran across the street, and attacked me. I told him to go ahead and kept moving, and then called the police a few minutes later when I got home.
That guy gave me the evil eye every time I ran by and he was outside after that, but he always grabbed his dog when he saw me coming. Unfortunately, I think he only controlled the dog when he saw me coming, because about a year and a half later the dog had to be put down when it attacked a kid on a bicycle. It was not the dog’s fault, but I guarantee that the dog’s owner still has not taken responsibility for what happened.
That was a lone occurrence, though, and the vast majority of my interactions with dogs while I have been running have been friendly or at least brief and uneventful. Most domesticated dogs will not attack you, especially if you do not give them a reason to.
Have you ever been chased or attacked by a dog? What have you done to protect yourself, and how effective was it? Do you have any good tips that I can add to my list above?
There is an assumption made here that, unfortunately, is not the case where I run. That is the concept of someone owning the dog. The vast majority of dogs I encounter have no owner. Or, at least no one who would claim ownership. Here in Mexico I often deal with packs of dogs.
The closest I have come to being seriously hurt was a pack of 7 dogs (fortunately medium to small dogs) which came after me. Two were biting at me and I was able to give them each a taste of my New Balances. They backed off.
I try the soothing voice first along with the cold look. If that does not work then I take the aggressive step towards them. That almost always takes care of it for me.
And I never assume a dog just wants to play. If he comes and jumps at me, then I become very defensive.
I have been bitten by many dogs in my life. I think there are some people that dogs just hate. My son and I are two of them. I have not received a serious bite while running though. Thankfully.
DPeach i think you taste like doggy treats. lol. I havnt been bitten by a dog, but i usually run. I dont like hurting animals but if i have to i will do what i need to do.
That’s something that I probably should have mentioned, but I am speaking from my own experiences along the eastern coast of the US where there are not very many wild dogs. As I did mention above, these tactics are meant for domesticated dogs and probably are not appropriate for any wild animals, dog or no.
Wild dogs? Ummmm. OK. Fortunately for me, Georgia has a leash law, so any dog running loose is breaking the law. With that said, I did get chased by a dog once in my neighborhood. Scared the bejeezus out of me. I did what you said, walked backwards, balled up my fists, and stared it down. Fortunately for me, the dog did not bite once I left its territory, and the owners moved away shortly there after.
Saw you on BMM forum.
I have been chased a lot and only bitten once. I stop, stare and do a sharp single syllable loud shout. Top of my lungs usually.
I think I have been most vulnerable when running long and brain energy is not as externally focused, sometimes I don’t see the dog until it is next to me.
I agree, some dogs are better than their owners.
Blaine, I really appreciate this post as someone who has been bitten more than once, and twice while the owner did nothing. I finally got a “personal alarm” that makes a shrill sound that keeps dogs at a distance. It actually held off a pack when I was once running in the country and had no where to turn. I lost that device (in a thoroughly embarrassing way…but that’s another story).
I usually will run to the other side of the street as soon as I hear a dog coming and slow slightly to size up the situation. I’ve also headed to the hospital for a rabies shot after being bit hard by a startled mastiff that had gotten loose from its pen. I didn’t blame the dog; but I lost faith in humanity for awhile: It was summer in Cape Cod and not one person — despite everyone’s windows being open and a few lights even being on — even bothered to come out and see why I was screaming for help. I did call 911 when I got home to tell them a giant dog with a bloody mouth was on the loose.
I’m sorry that you had to get bit and that nobody helped. While you can rarely rely on getting help from an owner, since they normally think that it is your fault for “bothering” their dog, I’m surprised that nobody else came out to help. Every place that I have been when somebody has screamed for help, people have come rushing outside to do what they could.
I wouldn’t lose out on all hope just yet.
the thread here is laced more towards the owners of the dogs being not responsible for their animals which is a sad indictment on their behalf and laughable almost when some slobering, animal comes up to you barking “its only trying to play” and the dog doesn’t look pleasant as well 🙂
If it is a domesticated dog and all it wants to do is tear you apart, it is still the owners fault for not training the dog and not controlling it.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t protect yourself. Just don’t blame the dog. It doesn’t know any better.
when i read this that afternoon a dog chsed me i did all the steps and it worked but the owner said it was my folt and yelled at me. i did not know what he ment
If guns are legal where you live, you can carry your gun when running and if a dog chases you, Shoot the beast!
im about to go running and i am terrified of dogs
and every thing iv read seems helpfull,but if im chased then i might forget every thing
+ i dont have mase
and it seems like it will really help
Here is my dog/running encounter!
(click the name)
Has anyone had success with playing dead? It seems counterintuitive enough to possibly be one of those unlikely responses that works.
its so scary
theres two dog in my apartment they are so freaking huge. the have like freaking sharp teeth. and every morning it waits for me. and when i come back its still there and when i come its starts jumping up and down. I always got a way to get away but this time theres a hole on the fence so now it could come out and kill me. so if i dont ever respond, i’m probably dead by now or in the hospital.
ITS SO DAMN FREAKING CRAZY. i should probably call the pound people and get that thing away from me. Damn its so freaky.
Unfortunately my dog chased a guy down the block earlier this morning. Some friends were over and as they were leaving one of my dogs(THE FRIENDLY ONE) came out and saw a man walking by the house and barked. As soon as the dog barked, the man sprinted down the block and of course she ran right after him, totally ignoring my calls. Literally three seconds later she comes walking back home, wagging her tail, and it looked like she was smiling. She was punished for her bad behavior but the man came back and mumbled under his breathe, “i’m gonna kill that dog.” And yes as the dog owner I honestly do agree that it was my fault for not being more careful but, saying comments like that don’t make us want to apologize to you or even feel sorry for the dogs actions. It actually angers them. But i’m not one to be afraid of dogs chasing me because you’re right, the best defense is to be calm and rational, and NEVER NEVER RUN!!! That’s basically turning yourself into prey and the dogs instinct kicks in and wants to chase you more.Nevertheless, a dogs actions I believe are all a responsibility of the owner because it is their dog.
I am a power walker and yesterday I was ending up the last part of my hour walk. I hear this taping sound behind me, only to look back and see a pit bull chasing me. I stopped and it stopped. It tried to advance as I backed up. Of course, no one was around to help. I moved around the car, it followed and growled. I continued to back up and this truck was sitting on the street with all this junk. I think the dog lost site of me and kind of ran away. He was ready to chew and eat!!Didnt know what to do but I thought, if I run, he will only chase me, so I made eye contact with him, although I was shaking in my adidas. Very scary for a girl like me.
well i got chased by a dog running around the block so when i got my new bike a couple months later when i went around the same corner it still chased me i know the lady she used have a dog but it died and she got the new dog but i dont know if it thinks im playing or it bites now im afraid to go on a bike ride or anything anymore PLZ I NEED ADVICE ON WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!
I am on this site because I was accosted by a domestic dog in a neighborhood where I walk. I really didn’t know what to do. It came running, growling, and baring teeth at me. I have a dog who bites people in our home at times -- he’s very fearful of people. But I tell people to talk in a high pitched voice and say nice things (like you mentioned above). So, that’s what I did. He really didn’t calm down physically, but he did stop charging and I slowly backed away. Apparently, I got out of his territory and he turned and peed on a mailbox. So, I would say your tips are right on!
I was chased by a pitt-bull, and I didn’t know what to do, so I ran away. (Not a good idea, because he chased me even more)
But, these steps are correct, exept step number 6.
If you move away from the dog, they will most likely want to chase you even more.
Just stay calm and say “Stay,” or “Good dog.”
Let it go away, when it does, make sure its at a far distance to were it can’t see you.
I’m sorry, but the guy who is writing this clearly does not have a clue how to deal with an ACTUAL dog attack. In the first part, he talked about how the dog wants to play with you….BULL SHIT. I have been chased by almost every dog breed and not one of them EVER wanted “to play” they wanted to kill me.
Take it from someone who has experience, if you are ever actually in reaching distance of the dog, and it’s attacking you or making an effort to…kill it. who cares if its “permenant damage” I had to kill a pitbull once because I was minding my own business, walking down the block to my cousins, and out of nowhere from behind me, a fucking ghetto pitbull starts barking like I was trying to take over the world or whatever, and then when i turn around to see what the fuck is going on, i see the scariest pit ive ever seen…ever. i was only 14 at the time too, so that made it worse. i started backing away slowly, with my hands in front of my balls just in case it charged, and then a car drove behnind it and apparenly that set it off and it bolted at me, i then proceeded to run my ass off like never before…but that wasnt fast enough…i never knew until that day that pits are actually fast, not just muscular. so i try to jump on a truck but the pit gets a hold of my leg, pulls me off, im bleeding all over(great, fucking great.) then i see a shovel in the back cab of the pickup truck. Im afraid for my life at this point. have you ever been chased by a ghetto pitbull? i think i almost shit my pants, no joke. so i grab the shovel, hit the thing in the head on the right side, i t falls over, GETS BBACK UP (WTF?!) and goes at me again so i hit it a second time after getting bit once again in the other leg, and on my upper left arm (non dominant arm) but anyway, it falls over again, so im like fuck this im not waiting to get killed by this piece of shit, so i just gave it a few good whacks to the head as hard as possible and it started like foaming at the mouth a little and barking like it was having a seisure, then it kinda started twitching and shit and i started to think if i actually killed it or is it going to come back stronger than before and im just gonna die? but at that point i wasnt going to get mauled again so i hit it with the side of the shovel right in the temploe area of the skull and i guess that did the bastard in and it stopped moving…gave it another good hit just in case because, at that point i was pissed off, scared, crying(i was 14 at the time and im sure anyone at any age would be too so stfu) and i didnt want to get bit in the ass while walking away, so i hit it with the pointed end in the neck and it shot blood everywhere and i left it there with the shovel and went to my cousins, he took me to the urgent care but i couldnt fiel a lawsuit cause it was a stray and we didnt know the owner.
long story short, stay out of areas where theres stray dogs if you dont have to go there. if you do, carry a backpack to throw at the dog, and a knife, and maybe pepper spray…but pepper spray doesnt work on pit bulls by the way.
my brother cracked a beer bottle over a pitbulls head before when he got attacked by one walking his rotweiler/shep. mix and the thing just sat there for a minute, and then started up again. i hate pitbulls.
Well, I got chased by a dog when I was 11.
I ran away as fast as possible but it didn’t work he still chased me.
I stopped running and stared at his eyes.
And he was slowly starting to attack me.
I didn’t know what to do .I thought if I did nothing and stand there it would kill me for sure.I started barking like a dog lol.
The dog stopped and sniffed me and then walked away.
I think the best way to avoid a dog is simply not to be afraid of them.
I am not surprised you say you have not been bitten by dogs many times. I have been working with problem dogs for over 10 years and the number 1 rule when working with any dog you don’t know any haven’t earned the trust of yet is NEVER LOOK IT IN THE EYE! To a dog that is a threat and a challenge and while the more submissive ones will instantly back away, many will challenge you back and, if you don’t back down, you are in seious danger. I recomend that you do a course or at least read a book on dog psycology before you start giving out dangerous suggestions on the internet.
Pitbuls by the way, Scott, are not more or less inclined to be aggressive because of their breed alone. The most bites delivered world wide is actually from chiuauahas! Unfortunately these dogs have been given a bad reputation as they happen mostly to be owned by people who mistreat them or didn’t socialize them as puppies. It is ALWAYS the fault of the owner, a dog, regardless of breed, behaves in a way that represents how it was raised, not what shape it’s head is!
Yep, I was always chased by this chihuahua in my relative’s house when I was three. Even now I still had a phobia of barking dogs, never been bitten though.
There is one thing in this article that isnt true and i just want to clarify that. It doesnt matter what color you are wearing when i dog looks at you, because they are color blind. All dogs see only black and white so that has nothing to do with why the dog is chasing you. I just wantesd to state that.
The first point in this article could not be any further from the truth. Dogs will ALWAYS take staring them down as a sign of aggression and usually they will either charge or stamp and bark loudly to respond. It is in their DNA from tens of thousands of years learning survival techniques and pack dominance.
The best thing to do that I’ve found in my own encounters is to avoid eye contact, begin walking in a non-threatening posture, smile if you can (dogs pick up on facial expressions extremely well), walk past the dog until you are safely away and then continue your run once it is out of sight. For a dog hellbent on attacking, DO NOT RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Yell loudly, bark like a dog, scream for help, do whatever you need to in order to get attention from the neighbors. Most of the time they will at least stop their charge and maybe even be startled enough to run away (if you’re lucky). Dogs can sense when someone is nervous, and in turn, that may make the dog nervous as well and want to run at you.
If you know you are running in a rural setting with no one else around or in a bad neighborhood, don’t leave the house without some sort of pepper spray or small blunt object in case you are attacked. This will give you some chance in avoiding a bite or injury from any animal.
The real tragedy to this whole thing is that typically these dogs are owned by low-income individuals that do not have enough maturity or funds to train their dog properly and integrate them into a societal setting. They purchase the dog to throw the image to the world that they are “tough and intimidating” or they keep it as a guard dog without thinking about the implications of having such an animal.
A lot of dogs, like pitbulls, do get a bad rap because of the deadly type of force they can demonstrate. However, I think it is the right call to ban these types of animals from cities and towns because you lessen the chance of something happening without them around. It’s the same thing with guns. There are millions of responsible gun owners in this country who have never had one incident because they are careful and take the necessary precautions. Owning a dangerous dog is the same thing. You wouldn’t give a loaded gun to an irresponsible handler. Why would you do the same thing for aggressive and potentially deadly dog breeds?
We all have the right to run, bike, walk, and play without the constant threat of being accosted by a loose animal. As a runner and a big-time dog lover, I see both sides of the argument. But at some point, common sense and decency needs to take over and people need to be held accountable for their inactions as well as their actions.
The thing I did was quite stupid. I ran around the dog while he chase me in circles.And I don’t know why … it was quite effective. It stopped suddenly and fell down….I wonder why?
Method : Ran in Circles
I heard about the Methods you wrote down….I am not brave enough to do it…Because I’m only 9 years old.
Still,I DID try to scare a dog by acting like throwing rocks.DID NOT WORK FOR ME BECAUSE THE DOG IS FIERCE :P. Thanks for the tips!!!
I’ve found the best method is to look the dog square in the eye and say “go home.” You’d be surprised how many dogs will just turn around and walk away when you say this. About 80% of dogs recognize this command. In my experience it has been very effective.
3 Simple methods worked.
Method 1 : Go ahead and act cute.
Method 2 : Play Dead
Method 3 : Run in circles until he is confused until he
decides to just give up.
My opponent was kinda crazy and it has puppies too.She chased me in circle for 20Times and above and she stopped and did not do anything.She then suddenly go home.
I have never seen a dog acting like this before. Ah well, dint got bit . Maybe i was lucky 😀
I remember a from a long time ago when I was six or five in china, I was riding a bicycle in the pathway next to where my grandma growss plants there all of a sudden there was this black stray dog that came after me!. I started pedaling for my life its mouth right next to my leg and then my grandpa scared it away. Now there are 4 stray cats that no one owns that roam around where my grandma plants things. I hope they starve to death.
You idiot DO NOT EVER STARE INTO A DOGS EYES EVER!!!! when you are doing this you are challenging him thus it will only make the attack worse
Well i would say to be safe from these type of dogs you should Not look into their eyes especially the ones that seems threatning, move as if you do not know they exist there! Don’t ever run in front of them, be cool though you would say fuk off! And by and by the dog would become accustomed to your presence and would loose interest lest become used to your presence. But if however it attacks you out of no reason i would say just look hard fearlessly into his eyes but only when you could give that fearless killing look but if can’t try searching for the fish in the sky! and whatever you do “don’t run” during that exchange and try to make a puppy type of noise with your throat(your choice), it might confuse them and when everythings ok stop doing anything, and it might go away doing his things but if he sits there try to befriend him! Well this befriending seems too much! But don’t run in front of psychos!
One time I was riding my bicycle and a big mean looking pitbull starting barking and chasing after me. So I stopped the bike, raised my hands up, and said “I’m gonna get your butt!” The dog then stuck his butt in the air and wagged his tail. I then played with the dog for about 15 minutes or so, then he went home.
It’s great to see someone proving that myth wrong. Those dogs are so lucky to have a wonderful trainer (and a beautiful home!).
Dogs may chase bicycles and even cars and I’m 17 in aug so I will be able to drive away from dogs when I get a car. I may as well see how fast it runs when I get a car and i will look at my speedo and the dog so I find out how fast it runs if it chases my car.
I get off work late at night and have to walk through a neighborhood full of dogs. I do not like to have to come face to face with one so I run if I see a loose dog. Will getting on something high help until the dog leaves?