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How to Stop Dog Attacks When Running

How to Stop Dog Attacks

One of my biggest nightmares when I run is having a dog or multiples dogs (yes that really bites!) attack me. I’ve had the unfortunate luck of being attacked by not one by two dogs at the same time. Not fun! So what have I learned and how can you prevent yourself from being attacked?

Over the years I’ve discovered that I must be a dog magnet. If there is a dog in the area and it’s lose it will come after me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m running by fast or it’s just me but I have discovered what works and what does not work in a potential dog attack. In fact I’ve personally had the unfavorable luck of having tested out each of the following methods at various times.

What Does Not Work:

Running Away - this has never really worked for me. I have had dogs bite onto my legs as I’m running (yes, I was dragging the dogs, two of them, while trying to run away)! I mean I can run pretty fast but the dogs always seems to catch up and it seems like this makes dogs more likely to come after me. I guess they see it as a game. There are a few times I have gotten away by doing this but it was only by luck where I sprinted for such a long time the dog and myself were too far from it’s house so it turned back or cars were coming down the road and these stopped the dog enough for me to gain some good distance and it gave up.

Standing Still Like a Tree - this was suggested to me once, as I was told this would stop any dog from attacking me. Boy were they wrong… don’t do this! The dog just keeps charging at you and I’m sure it can smell or tell your fearful of it. You look weak in the dog’s eyes, which leaves you open for the dog to be more aggressive since it things it can easily over power you.

Yell For the Dog’s Owner - Now this is one of the most worthless things I’ve tried. Most of the time the owner will just yell back “it won’t bite” but in my mind I know “…yes, it won’t bite you since it knows you but it doesn’t know me”. Many dogs have been known to bite and you should not listen to the dog’s owner because it’s a dog is an animal and is not totally under the control of the owner or it would not be coming after you in the first place. I’ve sadly had many owners just stand and watch (not doing anything!) as their dogs ran out of their yard and began to bark and attack me.

Give Them A Dogie Treat - This is another one I heard from someone else as a suggestion through my trial. I’ve tried this with no luck. I’ve thrown out the treat for the dog put they always either completely ignore the treat to stop smell it or eat it and quickly chase back after me. Possibly a big steak or something that could take the dog some time to stop and eat might work, but who carries a steak in their back pocket when they run?

What Does Work

Don’t Run That Route - Yep, if you don’t run the route where the dog lives you’re not going to have to worry about being bite by it. I know that isn’t what you want to do sometimes but sacrificing a running route has saved me from getting into a unwanted situation when I know a dog will be waiting for me. Although I’d rather actually run my routes with what ever freedom I want so this is not always an option I prefer.

Pepper Spray & Kicking - Yes, I’ve had to pepper spray a dog or two in my times. I actually could include this in the non-working section of this blog post since I have done this on dogs before and it did NOT stop the dog! It has deterred some dogs but it seems to only make them stop for a few seconds and then come right back after you. In such cases or when the spray has no effect on the dog what so ever I’ve had to use a combination of spraying and kicking. Yes, you heard that right I had to kick the dog! I know, I know… that’s not the best thing but it was either the dog gets kicked or I get seriously mauled by a very vicious dog (as you can image it’s a pretty tough dog if pepper spray does nothing to it).

Battle Cry and Attack the Dog - Crazy enough this is actually worked the best for me! What you do is scream bloody-murder like you are really going to kill the dog (and you really have to feel, sounds and act like you are going to kill the dog) then run/charge directly at the dog. Yes, I know that sounds like suicide but this actual works and has worked every time I’ve done it properly. You much have no intention that you can’t do it or have any fear. You have to be fearless, scream really load (as load as you can) and the dog will stop and most of the time will run the other direction away from you. I will usually also put my arms out to make myself look bigger. This also adds to the effect. This works because the dog sees you as a bigger threat then it’s able to handle and will be surprised that you are willing to charge and attack it. I’d suggest starting off with using this technique on small dogs first and then working your way up to larger dogs since it does take some guts to do this and you want to make sure you do it right or the dog will still attack you.

Well I hope that helps you and your next dog encounter. These are my trials and notes from years of running and having to confront a large number of dogs sometimes on a daily bases.


What a useful article. Thanks for sharing you expertise due to your unfortunate experiences! It is one of my concerns since I recently started running. I'm curious if you have ever had the opportunity to try those ultrasonic devices that are supposed to deter dogs.
Julie Dailey
I often encounter loose dogs as I am walking my two greyhounds. Even if the dog is not out to bite us, it still creates a big issue for me because it makes it quite hard to control my dogs. I get very cranky when I have to deal with someone's loose dog even as I am trying valiently to control my own. Three times this month when faced with a loose dogs, I have put my arms out wide and then SCREAMED "STOP!" and it seems to work. I have begun carrying a big stick with me, too. Last night, I aimed my stick at the dog while yelling at the owners "GET YOUR DOG!". I am so weary of j@ck@ss people who can't understand the issue their loose dog creates for me. I ran across your article while I was trying to find information online about using a solution of ammonia/water in a spray bottle for further protection. Or, maybe vinegar and water. Thanks for the good article and the good tips. Happy Cycling!
Log That Run
@May, I still have not tried out the ultrasonic devices. Likely since writing this, I've moved to an area where dogs without leases is almost unheard of. Although now and then I do visit my old stomping-around and find that I have to either carry pepper spray or be ready to battle cry technique. If I get a chance at picking on of those ultrasonic devices up I'm going to just to see if it's effective or not.

@Julie, I feel your pain. I know exactly how it is. Luckily I've recently moved to an area where I don't find dogs unleashed but I still get unnerved if I see a dog while running even if it is on a lease :(

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