Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club

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SAFETY/EDUCATION: Reacting to Dogs

  • Tue, April 23, 2013 9:54 PM
    Message # 1277034
    An aggressive dog can be a cycling safety hazard. The League of American Bicyclists offers these tips for reacting to dogs:

    Priorities
    • Make sure that you do not hit the dog; you will fall and you might kill the dog.
    • Stay in control of the bike; if you panic then you might lose control and fall.
    • Try to not hurt yourself or the dog; you are just riding and he is just being a dog.
    Non-aggressive approach
    • Continue pedaling and ride past the dog; he is protecting his territory and should stop.
    • Remember that some dogs bark and chase for fun with no intention of attacking.
    • The faster you and your feet are moving, the less likely you are of being bitten.
    Aggressive approach
    • Yelling at the dog will usually startle the dog enough to get him to disengage.
    • Spray water from your waterbottle into his face; he'll get a drink and back off.
    • Physical violence and pepper spray should only be used in extreme cases.

    More Resources
    Last modified: Tue, April 23, 2013 9:54 PM | Claire Chiamulera
  • Thu, May 02, 2013 6:17 PM
    Reply # 1284166 on 1277034
    Dan Donahue (Administrator)

    Claire, if a dog continues to go after cyclist aggressively I will report it to the local animal control office.  They will need info including address or location, details of the incident(s), and MOST IMPORTANTLY whether the dog came out into the travelled portion of the roadway in chasing and/or attempting to bite the cyclist.

    This extra effort is not only important for your own safety, but has an impact on the potential safety of other riders that pedal past that location.  I have reported two dogs.  One owner now has his dog behind a fence, while the other dog still chases cyclists.  The next time I get chased by that dog I will be making my third compliant.  This builds a record of non-compliance and gives animal control grounds for taking more serious action against the owner.  Or it could be the good ole boy network in action?  I plan to stick with it and go to a supervisor if necessary or my local County Commissioner.

    In the meantime practice using HALT, so when you need it you're ready.  A key factor with any spray weapon is wind variables.  You don't want to fire a burst of HALT at a dog about to bite your ankle, only to have that spray blow back in your own face!!

  • Thu, May 16, 2013 10:14 PM
    Reply # 1295061 on 1277034
    Deleted user
    I am a veterinarian and I have 6 dogs.  I love dogs.  

    Not all dogs are the same, so here are another couple of thoughts.....

    Dogs are NOT to be loose off of their property.  It is illegal and there are safety concerns.  Even if a dog is not chasing a cyclist, it is causing you and drivers to take their eyes off the road or to swerve.....a serious accident can occur.  Report incidents to animal control --- you could save the animal and/or a driver/cyclist.....

    If a dog is chasing you, you would like to make it slow down or stop so you can avoid a bite.  Do not try to hold a conversation with the dog (honestly.....I've seen this...).  In your deepest, meanest voice you yell, "NO!" or "BAH!"  (as in 'Bah humbug').  Most dogs know tone (the mean voice) and the word no.  Alternatively, the 'Bah' is a very guttural noise, kind of like a growl and I have had misbehaving dogs stop short with it (sometimes they hear 'no' so much they think it's their middle name...).

Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club
P.O. Box 81  
Oxon Hill, MD 20750-0081

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