What To Do With an Aggressive Dog While Biking
Over the past few years, bicycling has become an increasingly popular activity in the United States. Some enjoy it as a form of exercise, while others are looking for a more eco-friendly way to get around town. Although bicycling comes with a lot of benefits, cyclists face a lot of dangers as they ride, including the risk of dog attacks.
When dogs see something move by them very quickly, it can trigger their instinct to chase it. Because of this, many cyclists have to deal with dogs chasing them as they ride. Not all dogs necessarily have aggressive intentions as they chase a bicyclist, but some do, and when you’re riding a bike and suddenly have a potentially aggressive dog chasing you, your first instinct is to protect yourself, not figure out what the dog’s intentions are.
Some biking enthusiasts recommend trying to outrun the dog by riding your bike as quickly as possible. However, this isn’t always a practical solution, such as if you’re heading uphill when the dog starts chasing you. Depending on how fast a dog is running, you might not be able to ride faster than the dog. There are also lots of stories out there about bicyclists who were injured or even killed when they lost control of their bikes while trying to outrun a dog.
A safer way to stop a dog from chasing you would be to try and distract it. Many bicyclists carry bottles of water with them and throwing water on the dog might be enough to get it to stop chasing you. If you frequently encounter dogs on your rides, keeping a few lightweight stones in your pocket could be useful. If a dog starts chasing you, throwing a stone somewhere near the dog (not directly at the dog) might help direct its attention away from you and give you a chance to get away. If there’s a stick nearby, try to grab it and throw it toward the dog to hopefully direct its attention elsewhere.
Loud noises can be very startling to dogs and because of this, many cyclists carry dog horns with them when they ride. Dog horns are similar to regular air horns, but are designed specifically for dogs. If you don’t have an air horn or dog horn with you, saying “go home” or “stay” in your loudest, firmest voice might help. Some cyclists also carry dog repellent sprays with them to stop a chasing dog. These sprays help deter dogs without causing any harm to the dog.
If a dog won’t stop trying to attack you and you end up off your bike, use anything you can to act as a barrier between you and the dog. The bike itself is a great option, but anything else you might have with you like a jacket or backpack would also work. It might be inconvenient to have these sorts of things get damaged, but they can always be replaced. If you just can’t divert the dog’s attention elsewhere, curl into a ball in the ground, put your hands over your ears, and don’t move until the coast is clear.
Even if you take steps to protect yourself and still get injured, remember it isn’t your fault. The dog’s owner should have taken more steps to properly restrain their dog in the first place. The state of Michigan has a strict liability dog bite law, which means dog owners are responsible for injuries caused by their dog, even if the dog doesn’t have a history of aggressive behavior. Contact a dog bite lawyer to learn more about the legal options available to you. Goodwin & Scieszka has handled many dog bite cases over the years and want to help you out. Contact us today to learn how we can work for you.