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Exercise Safety Tip: Dealing With Unknown Dogs

I recently polled you guys about skipping workouts due to not feeling safe and a few of you mentioned you didn't feel safe because of dogs in your neighborhood. I know the feeling: I've encountered a few dogs I didn't know while jogging, and it can be an uneasy experience.

With this in mind I've channeled my inner dog whisperer and consulted with on what to do when approached by a dog you don't know. Here are the basics:

When you encounter an unknown/stray dog, never approach him. If he approaches you, remain still, and allow him to sniff you. Do not make any sudden moves or shout. Do not make eye contact with the dog and do not turn away from him either. Most important, do not run as all of these can be mistaken as challenges by the dog and provoke him to attack. Once the dog seems comfortable, you may slowly continue on your way.


Zero_Cool Zero_Cool 9 years
I absolutely hate it when people do not have control of their animals. I know my dog. He comes with me on all of my runs. And because I know my dog, I know he tends to be a little leash aggressive, so when unknown dogs come out of no where, my dog's hair goes up and he starts growling. Probably thinks he's protecting me, but then people come out of their house and yell at ME! As if I'm the one not watching my dog. Hello, my dogs on a leash, yours is running around the neighborhood!!
lemassabielle lemassabielle 9 years
It's so weird to think that dogs react this way because most that I encounter are so friendly. It might just be poor ownership but I dislike owners who let their dog behave like that. UGH.
tjzchouse tjzchouse 9 years
I love dogs. I have two--one is my on-line icon. My dogs are kept in our fenced yard or on lead while walking. No matter how well trained, you never know when an unexpected reaction may occur. Most urban areas have animal control laws. If you are threatened by a dog who is off lead and free off of private property, call the police! The owners are being irresponsible and inconsiderate of the rights of others in the community.
alleycat7 alleycat7 9 years
So glad you posted about this. When I was in college I got chased while on a run by a ROTTWEILER (scariest dogs EVER!) which was not tied up. THIS DOG BIT my calf. I didn't dare stop, because I was afraid this lunatic of a dog might eat me alive. Luckily it didn't break skin, but it left a huge bruise that stayed for a month. Still not sure how it bruised so badly, but didn't break the skin. I called Animal Control after it happened, but now, thinking back I think I should have pressed charges or something. It made me so angry and I never ran in that direction ever again. I learned while living abroad in very poor country which had a lot of stray dogs, if you really feel threatened, throw rocks at the dog. You don't need to hit it, but the dog usually will chase the rock instead of you. If it doesn't, feel free to hit the dog and it will back off. (of course this probably wouldn't fly with dog owners in the US.) Uh anyway, i could rant about this for days. :(
syako syako 9 years
magita - it works. You really just stop and they'll sniff you and get bored.
magita magita 9 years
I love dogs, but the fastest mile I ever ran was when I was out jogging and a loose german shepard found me and started chasing me down the street. It scared the living daylights out of me. To make matters worse, I knew where he lived and told the owner later that evening, who didn't seem to care very much. Scary. I would have a hard time letting a mean-looking dog come up and sniff me...instinct makes me want to run away.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
By the way, the off-campus location was a dirt road with houses, and this particular dog was is in its yard, but not leashed or fenced in. I thought the road was an extension of the campus with faculty housing, but I found out later that it was a different place altogether.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
I went to a rural college and one night during my first year I went running through the woods only to wind up off-campus with a teeny dog chasing and barking really maliciously at me. It was a small dog and I never got bitten, but it was not supervised and had a very angry bark. So I learned my lesson: running at night and in unfamiliar territories do not mix.
pandacn pandacn 9 years
I've actually found invisible fences to be really annoying because everytime I run, the dog within the invisible fence acts like he's running towards me and about to pounce, and the sign that indicates there's an invisible fence in effect is so small that I never see it until I pass the dog, so it's still really scary.
syako syako 9 years
Yeah, imagine a pitbull chasing after you! It happened to me on one of my runs. I had recently read some info about dogs somewhere so I just stopped running looked aloof and never made eye contact with the dog. He stopped chasing me and just kept barking and snapping, finally his owner showed up to take him away. IT IS IRRESPONSIBLE! And I totally agree that if you don't know how to leash your dog or keep them secure you shouldn't own a dog. There's no excuses for that one. What if it had been a 10 year old child running playing tag with friends. It could have been a terrible situation. Poor dog I hear him barking all hours of the night too, I don't think the owners take good care of him. :(
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Luckily in all the yrs I used to run I never had this happen to me. I saw an occasional dog or two on my route but it was always leashed or fenced in.
nikodarling nikodarling 9 years
In response to what alliep627 posted(because I have been in the situation myself many times) A note to dog owners every where - If you don't have a fence don't leave your dog in the yard. If your dog can run free after anyone that comes past your house you are irresponsible, reckless, and probably don't deserve to have a dog in the first place. Please have some respect for other people that may not enjoy being chased or trailed by your dog.
nikodarling nikodarling 9 years
Always good advice to stay away from any unknown dog. I love dogs, I have 2 of my own, but if I don't see an owner around I'll stay away. One of mine is very temperamental and doesn't like to be approached in the wrong way. While she may be happy and wagging her tail at first if you come at her too quickly, or get too close she gets snarly. I frequently catch people trying to pet them over top of our fence, or when they are tied up outside a store and I always think how dumb can you be you don't know either of them, they could be biters for all you know. Biggest tip for dealing with any dog - show no fear.
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
LOL!!! I LOVE how you chose just a little non-threatening looking dog who looks pissed, LOL!!!
alliep627 alliep627 9 years
Wow - so glad you posted this. I missed the original post. I am absolutely TERRIFIED of dogs now when I'm out riding my bike mostly...but sometimes walking and running too. I have had a few very bad experiences in the past couple of years and I do not know the best way to handle being CHASED HARD by protective dogs. It makes me so so angry that where I live so many people leave their dogs out in their yards so when a bike rides by the dog sees it as a threat to the property and takes off down the road foaming at the mouth trying to kill the threat on the bike! I'm not usually as scared if walking. And the thing is I love dogs! I have always had a dog myself. I just can't stand to be chased on my bike by one and feeling like I'm going to die because I can't get away from their growling, foaming, angry teeth wanting to bite me. It has actually prevented me from riding quite a bit lately.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I never ever try and approach a dog I don't know. I don't act scared either, but definatly cautious. My brother got bite really bad by thi dog that was tied outside of a Starbucks once...and it always makes me weary of petting or approaching a dog I don't know. Even when it's friends dog, I try not to bug them too much. I don't know them that well or their behaviour and vice versa.
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