Why dogs attack cyclists. What to do and how to avoid it
The relationship between dogs and bicycles can be described as complicated: who hasn't had to speed up when faced with a dog that wouldn't stop barking at them? In this video, Pablo from the Bikecanine channel explains better than anyone else why dogs attack cyclists and what we should do about it.
Advice on how to deal with a dog attack when riding a bike
And we say that Pablo explains it better than anyone else, because he is a cycle traveller who has been travelling with his bike and his dog Hippie around the world for more than 8 years (you read that right, he rides with his dog on his bike). But he has also been training dogs for all kinds of activities for more than 15 years, so we think that his explanation on this subject is the best.
3 reasons why dogs attack cyclists
As Pablo says, the first thing you have to do to understand them is to think like them, and in doing so, there are three options for why a dog attacks:
- Aggressiveness because of fear. The dog attacks out of fear of you, if you move away it should calm down.
- Dominant, defensive or protective aggression. Attacks because there is something it wants to protect (home, offspring, etc).
- Predatory aggression (used for hunting). In the previous two cases the dog should not chase us, but in this case it could.
Now, how to detect what the dog's intentions are.
The most dangerous dogs are those that approach without barking
Perhaps this is the most valuable learning, because there are two types of dogs that will approach us in an aggressive attitude: those that bark and those that do not. Dogs that come barking do so as a warning, and therefore their main objective is to scare us away. In order to get away from these "attacks" we must follow the following advice:
- Avoid sudden or rapid movements
- Keep calm
- Having authority
- Don't be aggressive
- Keeping an eye on the dog
- Do not run
But there is still the most dangerous case that a cyclist can face when confronted with an aggressive dog, and that is a dog that approaches us without barking. In this case the dog wants to bite us directly. This type of attack is usually related to the animal's hunting instinct, in which case if we stop the dog should also stop, or to the protective instinct.
Dominance aggression is the worst, as it means that we have invaded the dog's space: in his house, near his flock, his pups, etc. There is no clear advice for these cases because they are very exceptional situations that we will rarely encounter, but if we find ourselves in one of them, the fundamental thing is to stand firm and put something between us and the dog to avoid being bitten, for example a bicycle, and hold on until the dog gives up. Always bear in mind that on an uphill or flat terrain, the dog will almost always catch up with you if you try to run away, but on a downhill, you can get the upper hand relatively easily.
The video is a bit long but we assure you that it is worth spending some time with it because it makes it very clear how to deal with an aggressive dog when cycling. The most interesting are the examples we see from the middle of the video onwards.