We were with a new client and his Brittany Spaniel in Norcross last week for their initial home dog training session. The Brittany Spaniel was just four months old and most of the issues focused on potty training, socialization, and primary obedience. Charlotte, the Brittany, responded very well to the training and our client caught on very quickly regarding the potty training. It was a perfect day, so we decided to ramp it up a bit and take Charlotte for a short walk. We just wanted to make sure that they were properly walking together. After a few adjustments. everything was great. As we were returning back to his house, we passed a neighbor dog sitting on his porch. Our client commented that he always had problems with that dog. Our client loved to ride his bike around the neighborhood, but if the neighbor dog was out, the dog would always chase him and nip at his heels. He asked us if we had any ideas.
I told our client that it is always a challenge as we are having a nice bike ride around the neighborhood and, all of a sudden, a dog comes running at us from a porch or side yard. We really don’t know what to do and normally try to peddle faster to get away. That normally doesn’t work too well and our “Plan B” is often trying to lift our legs off the peddles so the dog doesn’t nip our feet. Now we are slowing down and things are just going south quickly.
I am kind of strange, so I have actually put myself in this position multiple times to see what we can really do to deal with the situation of dogs chasing bicycles. I would like to share my findings with you so all of us can have great bike rides with the neighbor dogs.
Our doggies love to play “tag, you are it”. When we ride past dogs on our bikes, they chase us, and we speed up, we are encouraging the idea of “tag, you are it”. Here is what you do:
- If you are on your bike and you are approaching a dog or a group of dogs, slow down to a “crawl”. Try to peddle as little as possible. Look straight ahead and proceed past them in a very slow, constrained manner. The dogs should read your “body language” as “I don’t want to play” and ignore you completely.
- If the dog or dogs start to run after you, slow down and stop. You have taken away the “I want to play” language from your movements. The dog(s) should come up to you, possibly perform a slight sniff, and then return to where they were sitting.
- If the dog(s) approach you in an aggressive manner (barking, showing of teeth, jumping), stop and get off your bike. Use the bike as a shield between you and the dogs. Always keep the bike between you and the dogs. Have some treats with you and toss them near the approaching dog. After the dog retrieves the first treat, throw a handful of treats behind the dog so that his attention is now focused away from you. Slowly exit the area while always having an eye on the dog.
- (Last resort only.) If you are off your bike, the dog continues to lung, show a high level of adrenalized aggression, and you do not see the owner or anyone who can help deescalate the situation, I would carry and use pepper spray. The dog will have to be within about ten feet of you for the spray to be effective. Use just enough to have the dog halt his forward progress and stop. You should then calmly back up, keeping your bike between you and the dog. You need to always be facing the dog and remain calm. (I have never needed to engage this option and only mention it as a last resort. Even though you may think using pepper spray is cruel, it is far better than the alternative option. If the dog bites you, you will have to report it and the dog could be euthanized.)
I have ridden my bike past a large number of dogs and have used these techniques and my bike rides have always been enjoyable.
Robin and I are passionate about creating happy homes with happy dogs. We are always here to help and answer any questions you may have.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 or (770) 718-7716 if you need any dog training help. We are blessed to have been your local dog training professionals for over fifteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.