Encountering Aggressive Dogs While Running
Encountering aggressive dogs while running can be enough to send anyone into a panic. Runners like free use of the path, and open access to the neighborhoods. Most places have leash laws to protect our access to public areas, but laws only help when people abide by them. Dog owners don’t always abide by the laws, and sometimes animals get loose.
When it’s just you and an aggressive animal charging towards you, it feels like all you can do is hope for the best.
Exercising on the running paths or in neighborhoods can leave you exposed to a variety of unpredictable situations. While aggressive dogs can be intimidating, there are things you can do to put yourself in the best situation possible. Make sure you know what to do, and you’re fully protected before you find yourself in a situation you can’t control.
7 Tips for Encountering Aggressive Dogs While Running
Stop, and Stand Still – When out for a run this can be a good idea. No matter what kind of running times you have, chances are you’re not going to outrun a charging dog. And an aggressive dog will likely interpret your running as a challenge, and give chase due to its prey drive. Some dogs may try to herd runners, resulting in bites to the calves or back of the ankles. If you don’t have a dog deterrent the best thing you can do is hold perfectly still and hope he loses interest.
Stay Calm – It’s a nerve-racking situation to be approached by an unfamiliar dog. But the dog may take its cues from the way you react. Sometimes dogs perceive sudden movements or actions as a threat. You’ll also want to avoid taking any actions that can be perceived as fear. If you’re calm and in-charge, the dog may also relax. This is important advice for anyone who is encountering aggressive dogs.
Avoid Eye Contact – It may be tempting to look straight at the dog’s eyes. Dogs interpret this as a challenge, however. It’s best to look down, or away if the animal may be dangerous.
Turn Around – See what happens if you turn around and go the other direction. Depending on the dog’s intentions, he may not give chase if you’re backing away from its territory. Nobody likes to completely change their intended route, but if it beats the alternative, this may be the best course of action. Safety first.
Praising the Dog – This may sound funny, but saying “Good dog!” in a cheery voice may flip an emotional switch for the animal. Many dogs are conditioned for a happy response to this type of phrase. That can change the nature of the encounter.
Don’t Throw Anything – Some people may try to throw a rock or use a stick as a weapon. This is a dangerous idea that may escalate a dangerous situation.
Carry a Way To Protect Yourself – An audible dog deterrent such as Sound Defense can be the difference maker when encountering aggressive dogs. There’s no need to worry about blow back on a breezy day like you’d have to consider with pepper spray. It’s a more forceful deterrent than an ultrasonic sound. An audible deterrent also has the added benefit of alerting people who are within earshot of the situation.
All dogs and all situations are unique. It may be that you’ll need to try a combination of techniques when encountering aggressive dogs. You’ll only have a few seconds to react in an adverse situation, so make sure you understand what your best options are.