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This early spring is fantastic for getting ready for Bike Out Hunger. I know I need to spend a lot of time on my bike over the next several weeks. With the weather warming, it means a couple of things. First, that more riders are out and about. Second, more dogs are out and about. 

Along one of my routes there used to be a dog that you could count on charging you and then really doing nothing else but encouraging you to climb the hill faster. So he/she wasn’t much of an issue once I realized the dog just wanted to run. However, sometimes dogs are a bit more aggressive. You may have heard the idea about talking to the charging dog in a nice, peaceful voice to confuse it. I have no idea if it works or not, but some try it.

Here are some other things to keep in mind or do when you encounter a persistent pooch.

  1. Don’t panic. It’s really the number one rule for cycling and life. Try not to swerve, even if riding alone, as it can often times put you in the path of a car. Fleeing sends a signal to the dog that he’s the predator and you the prey and encourages the dog to give chase.
  2. Anticipate. Most dogs run parallel to their target before drifting toward it and those are usually more bark than bite. The main threat comes from the daring dog that jumps out in front of you. As you approach this dog, look behind you to make sure there aren’t any cars coming to allow you a wide path. Sometimes the dog has a friend, so look for others.
  3. Be the aggressor. Dogs are among the few road hazards that can see you. Use this to your advantage. Stand up and assume a dominant stance. As the dog nears, make an abrupt swerve toward the dog. Yes, toward the dog, but only enough to send a message. Now for the best part – bark loudly and as mean as you kind. You can also squirt the dog in the face from your water bottle.
  4. Finally, a post-ride call to animal control could help the owner remember the laws or remove a stray dog.