Angry Dogs

I’ve had more than a few angry-dog experiences this year, especially on gravel. Bitten once, crashed once, friend crashed once, had to sprint a number of times when I really didn’t want to (towards the end of long hot days). There’s obviously not much I can do to force people to leash/fence their dogs, but I’m curious if anyone has any top tips or product recommendations to deal with these, especially in circumstances where the dog is in a front yard at the roadside and the owner is nowhere to be found (indoors, offsite, elsewhere on a property, etc). Do you use a water bottle? Carry pepper spray? Something else? I don’t want to hurt a dog unnecessarily but I also don’t want to get hurt myself either.

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I find that a well aimed squirt from the water bottle deters most dogs. Of course you have to have enough time to react after you see the dog. It’s the dogs that catch me unawares that are the real problem. With those a very loud shout usually does the trick. In over 40 years of road riding I’ve only had one dog coming at me with intent get close enough to try to bite me, and I smacked him in the head with my hand then pedaled like hell.


A water bottle, a shout, or a whistle if you know they’re coming. If you can’t outsprint them (uphill or something) dismount early and get the bike between you and them at arms distance to hold them off. Then you can shout to scare them or wait for help.

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For me it’s rare, but this spring I had a dog starting to chase me. My first instinct was to slow down, not give it anything to chase. Then I thought, what am I doing, I’ve been training all winter, I’d better be able to outsprint this dog! I did get away, but it did chase me for a good quarter mile.

most dogs aren’t angry, they just want something to chase.


Happened several times - it’s important to distinguish between excited dog and angry dog. Excited dog is fine just keep riding and watch out that it doesn’t get into your front wheel. Angry dog, and you can tell, needs a squirt from the bottle and a loud roar to give you enough time to sprint away.


I have strong opinions on this subject, as I love dogs. I ride 95% gravel in rural MN.

Please, please, please- the moment you see or hear the dog, just stop. This defuses the “chase” instinct, which leads quickly to the “bite” instinct. Stop, face the dog, speak calmly and gently to it. You are almost always dealing with someone’s pet, or a working dog. Either you’ll end up petting it, or it will bark a bit, get bored and go away. Very rarely the dog will be hostile- keep facing it and move out of its territory.

I see the same dogs all the time. They’re my friends and it pisses me off when people want to pepper spray them or whatever.



To add to this, and from a dog lover too, I’d suggest as well as stopping to remove your helmet/glasses too. To a dog, you look very odd on a bike in all your gear, but once you look and behave like a human, which most home-trained dogs know are their friend, they calm down.


I have to admit I’ve never gotten as far as taking off the helmet, but yes, making yourself look less like a giant reflective-eyed alien insect does seem to help…… :- )

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Like others have already mentioned I find most dogs lose interest or become much nicer once you stop and get off the bike. Even dogs that don’t become sweet will usually just stand their ground and bark a bunch if I stop. Trying to outrun them is much more of a gamble and they’re much more likely to try to bite you if they’re chasing you.

I find loud hubs seem to annoy (excite?) dogs more, and that groups of dogs tend to seem less friendly than individual dogs. But even with groups of dogs, I find getting off the bike a better bet than trying to outrun 3-4 dogs. I keep a water bottle at hand to spray them if needed and don’t assume they want to be pet.

Doesn’t work with watch dogs.

My dad told me that when he was trekking with friends in eastern europe in the 70s he always made sure he walked towards the front of the group since the stray dogs would just bark at the people at the front but actually move in towards the last on or two people…
We actually have a saying in German, “Den letzten beißen die Hunde”… the last one gets bitten by the dog :grinning:


If you can stop in time, which means before the dog is really close to you, then stop, as this is the safest method for anyone involved.
But, that’s not always possible, and some dogs, once they’re triggered and sprinted for you, won’t stop their aggression just because you stopped moving.
I’m not afraid of dogs and dogs notice that. When I yell at them they typically get scared. It maybe also helps that I’m 1.90m.

After an event with three adult Rottweilers many years ago I used to carry pepper spray attached to my top tube with some tape ready to be gripped within two seconds. Because the girl I was riding with that day somewhere in rural France was really afraid of dogs and she carried a pepper spray. While I started to sprint away from the Rottweilers she remained cool as a cucumber, waited for the fastest of them until it was close and then gave it a proper pepper spray douse. It really worked and the other two also immediately stopped their attack although they were not affected by the spray.

I never had to use it myself in the ensuing years so I stopped carrying it with me when it was expired.

But I can confirm also from other stories of other cyclists that it really works, and it certainly gives you peace of mind. People also told me that the same dog once “treated” to pepper spray never attacked them again.

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Just pray the owner doesn’t jump in their truck and teach you a lesson in return.

A loud NO!! followed by a squirt to the face from the water bottle is almost always enough to get them to back off.

If I can see the dog from distance, I will take caution on their body gesture. Try to make a friendly eye contact.
Dogs are like kids. They are curious, want to play, some are territorial.
I always greet dog that I meet. It’s a habit to ask like “hey! where are you going”? or “hey! how are you doing”?
I think the words then spread in the doggos world that there is this friendly skinny cyclist who loves to talk with dogs and he is not bone to chew. His legs also hairy and maybe he is one of us. So do not bite him. :upside_down_face: :smiley:


Lots of interesting anecdotal replies. You can tell people who know dogs from those who don’t by the responses. When I was a teenager, I had a paper route, and delivered papers by bike, throwing the rolled up papers onto the neighbors’ porches. Many folks had dogs, and most of their dogs didn’t appreciate things being thrown in their yard. I (or my family) have also owned dogs my entire life. If you plan to return to the area again, confronting a dog by squirting them in the face would not be a great idea, as some dogs will remember your smell, and the association of an unpleasant experience–their happiness won’t increase the next time they see you. Rather, as suggested, stop you bike, put it between you and the dog, if necessary, and make direct confident eye contact, talk as if you are it’s friend, don’t show nervousness or concern. Lean over or dominate the space. Raise your hand as if directing it to sit or stay–show a firm resolute attitude if the friendly talk doesn’t work, and only a loud voice if clearly threatened–you’re playing with fire otherwise. Move slowly away. Over time, you will have made a new friend, rather creating an instant enemy by squirting or spraying it. Dogs, are, after all, domesticated, some less so than others, but all respect authority, when administered appropriately.


When 3 country pit bulls are barking at your heels, no one is going to stop and try to make friends. I’ve had dogs all my life, and i love dogs more than people, but I’m not going to tell people to risk getting bitten by an angry mob or to stop 10 times a ride to greet dogs.

I ride in the country. I get chased by 10 or more dogs almost every time i ride. Often they come in groups. Most dogs will break off after 50 yards or so, and if not, a simple squirt of water does the trick when needed without hurting the dog.


This for me. I hate dogs, so I’m afraid reasoning with them is not happening. Squirt of water or a kick in the face if I haven’t been able to sprint away from them.


risky when chased på a watchdog on a 10% incline…