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How to Score a Dog Bite: The Joggers and Bikers Edition

Hi there. You look really fit. All tan and muscle-y and stuff. Oh, it’s because you’re a jogger. You look like a long distance kind of dude. And you’re a cyclist too? Well aren’t you the picture of health.

What was that? I’m sorry, I don’t think I heard you right. Did you just say you really want to get bit by a dog?

You did. Um, you know that’s crazy right? No one likes dog bites. They kinda hurt. Ok, ok. You really want to get bit, huh?

Well, since you asked…

So You Wanna Get Bit By a Dog: The Joggers and Bikers Edition

If you really want to get bit by a dog while you’re jogging:

Scout out a narrow trail, filled with pedestrians and dog walkers. With no audible warning, sprint up behind a dog, passing it so closely that your personal gust o’ running wind parts their fur.

The surprised dog, startled by a total stranger rushing them from behind, will likely be one of the following: scared, threatened, excited, or spun around and confused.

You’ve increased your chances of getting bit. Well done. If you aren’t too busy bleeding, don’t forget to check over your shoulder. You may not have scored that dog bite you’re bent on getting, but you’ll get a good chuckle at the dog walker who is now struggling to calm her startled dog. Score!

Did you see me scare the crap out of that dog? High five bro!

Not into doing it from behind? Try sprinting at a strange dog head on! When you spy a dog strolling on leash, pick up your pace and run right at the dog. Most dogs will think you’re coming to hurt them, hurt their human, or play with them.

Either way, you’ve got their attention now! Bravo. Look forward to lunging and barking. Fingers crossed for that dog bite you’re obsessed with getting.

Like riding bikes? Why not do it on a crowded sidewalk or walking trail, filled with pedestrians and dogs? There’s nothing that screams, “I want a dog bite!” like speeding past a dog who has no room to escape you and your hot wheels.

For extra points, scream at the dog walker for not getting out of your way. What do they think they’re doing walking on that sidewalk? They should stay out in the road with the cars….where it’s safe!

Obviously, I’m kidding here. Don’t ever do this stuff. Stop it right now.

For real: Can we talk about how crazy it can be negotiating bikes and joggers with our dogs?

They way they charge at our dogs is like some special brand of stupid. They’re just begging for a dog bite.

And I happen to know that they can’t stand us either. I love checking the search terms that people plug in to find my blog. I’ve gotten a bunch of search terms that go something like this: ‘”I hate dogs while I’m jogging” and “I want to run over dog walkers with my bike and then back up and do it again, while ringing my dumb bell.”

Ok, not the second one so much, but I do see the first one a lot - joggers don’t like dealing with our dogs any more than we like dealing with joggers.

I promise not to walk my dogs into the middle of your marathon. That would be rude.

If we’re both miserable, why can’t we call it a truce and end this perpetual Fight Club we’re in with each other?

Here’s what I propose:

Joggers: if you see a dog, go wide. Do not run directly into, up to, or past a strange dog. Exit the sidewalk and run in the street. For like 10 feet. Then you can get back on. No biggie. If you’re trapped on the path, slow down and walk. I can hear you guys now: “Walk?! I’m a runner!” Fine.

At the very least, say something clear and understandable from a distance, like “INCOMING JOGGER BOMB ON YOUR LEFT!” or whatever you think will be the best way to alert a dog walker that you are coming up from behind and they need to move over. Please don’t heavy breathe a polite, quiet, “excuse me”, at the exact same time you’re passing us. That doesn’t give us enough time to react. I’m usually thinking about my next snack while I’m dog walking. Please give me enough time to snap out of my cupcake cloud and move over.

That’s all we want, really. The chance to move out of your way. Cuz we like our space.

And if you run with your dog, keep them close to you. Don’t let them run right up to, squeeze by, or surprise strange dogs.

Bikers: Get off the sidewalks. Period. Unless you’re in elementary school, it’s time to suck it up and ride in the streets. It’s just not fair that pedestrians have to contend with bikers on sidewalks. Especially on crowded city streets. This actually has nothing to do with dogs. I’m saying this for all of us: dog walkers, senior citizens, children, people who dislike being run over.

If you think it’s too dangerous to ride in the streets (I feel you on this, by the way – I was terrified to ride my bike in the city), take the subway. And don’t you dare give me lip if I’m in your way and don’t move over fast enough. These aren’t called bikewalks.

The City of Evanston gets it. Those people look really happy.

Dog walkers: We need to behave too. Don’t let your dogs lunge at or jump on joggers and bikers, if you can help it (meaning – you weren’t caught completely off guard). If they’re giving you space, be thankful and control your dogs. Keep your dogs on leash. Retract your flexi leads.  At home, contain your dogs in your yards by fence or lead, so that they can’t chase people.  Get off the phone and take off the headphones, so you can hear what’s going on around you. Be good, responsible dog owners.

That’s not so bad, is it?

No one wants to get bit. No one wants their dogs to bite someone. Instead of creating the prefect storm for a dog bite: charging and startling an unfamiliar dog, let’s work together to set dogs and humans who like to sweat in public up for success. We can do it – this whole being polite and giving each other space thing – I just know it.

(p.s. I know you guys know this already, but don’t be silly about what you read here. That stuff in the beginning was a joke. You will not hold the author of this blog responsible for any incidents related to the materials published here. www.notesfromadogwalker.com assumes no liability or responsibility for your actions.)

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42 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great post! I love the way you handled in irritating situation with your customary and appreciated sense of humor:-) My biggest fear is actually joggers WITH dogs. Murph can handle just about anything except a dog coming at him fast. My weeble-shaped body just can’t move fast enough to get out of the way before one of these double threats is upon us.

    I have been physically knocked off the sidewalk (hard enough to send me sprawling) TWICE by cyclists; no warning and no apology. Now I carry my shillelagh of doom with me so I can avenge myself in the even that it happens again:-P

    May 3, 2012
  2. BigSister #

    This would be the one and only reason I don’t like summer – all the joggers and bicyclists come out in full force.

    Now, my dogs are actually really good, and I’m lucky. If my pit bull is startled, he cowers or tries to move away from the perceived threat. My Pomeranian is pretty much the same way, minus the cowering.

    Last summer I had a guy squeeze past my dogs on a narrow trail and almost fall on top of my pittie. I called out to him “Don’t DO that!” and he apologized.

    Bicyclists whiz by so close they scare all of us. I have had them laugh in the past when this has happened. (Side note: I am a bicyclist, too) Seriously, though, is it too much to ask that you give my dog more than a few inches of clearance?

    Both my dogs are pretty good with bicycles as well, but when some idiot kid repeatedly whizzes by they aren’t too happy and neither am I.

    I have stopped joggers and told them in what I hope is a friendly and non-condescending way that some dogs when startled will bite, so please let us know you are passing. So far no one has cursed me out.

    May 3, 2012
    • I honestly think it’s a miracle that more people don’t get bit by dogs. I’m glad people are open to your message – it really is in everyone’s best interest to avoid startling/scaring dogs!

      May 3, 2012
  3. Jodi Scaife #

    I had a nasty encounter with a jogger last summer when I was trying to walk 3 dogs, and the jogger decided that she absolutely had to pass me at a corner where there was a fence and some ornamental bushes, so there was no space to retreat. My youngest dog was nearly kicked by the woman when she ran by so closely that Patience didn’t have to try to touch her. Patience started barking and growling at the woman, and the woman acted like I was at fault for having my dog outside at all. Admittedly, I have learned to only walk Patience with one other dog at most, but the jogger could have deflected the reaction by passing in the bike lane in the road rather than shoving her way past us on the sidewalk.

    May 3, 2012
    • When they squeeze by like that, it makes me wonder if they’re secretly daring the dogs to bite them. It’s so dangerous!

      May 3, 2012
      • I agree. I once had a woman approach my dog and me without permission and start petting him. He was uncomfortable with her and so was I. I asked her to stop and she said “Oh that’s OK if he bites me I will just sue you.’ I was able to walk away without causing HER harm. Disturbing.

        March 13, 2014
  4. This is great advice. It only takes a bit of courtesy to avoid an incident.

    May 3, 2012
  5. Great Post!
    Reminds me of the time some friends and I took our dogs to large park. There was an area there where the bike path and walking path merge.
    A family passed by on bikes, and the father whistled to our dogs.
    C’mon man! Your on a bike!
    Do you really want strange dogs coming to you when you are riding?

    May 3, 2012
  6. Ignacio #

    Great article. As a jogger, cyclist and dog walker I agree on every count! (although I don’t ride my bike on the sidewalk, that’s for 5 year-olds on training wheels).

    May 3, 2012
  7. Jan Hinkley #

    We have some nice bike trails ( not on streets) where I live but at ceratin times of the day there are few bikes on them so they do get used by walkers ( with or with out dogs),joggers and horses.They take you to some nice places. I have walked my dogs on them and along side them where there is space to do so and my dogs even my DINOS have never really been bothered by the bikes . I have to say that often bikers pass by then stop or come back and thank me for having my dogs on a leash! They are not saying what are you doing walking dogs on a bike trail but rather thank you for leashing your dogs. When my Dinos was alive walking on the bike trail meant running into fewer dogs and seems despite the leash laws people here do not feel their dogs need leashes. So after reading your blog it may sound weird but Bike trails were a much more relaxing place to walk them the hikning trail with my Dinos.

    We ask the bikes and joggers to behave yet there are still too many dog walkers walking off leash in areas that are not off leash that do not behave!

    May 3, 2012
    • Laura #

      I agree. I’m an avid bicyclist and I have a DINOS. I can see all the points and I agree, cyclists and joggers need to be careful.I always make sure to call out “PASSING ON LEFT” and I slow down when passing dogs (kiddies too, for that matter).

      But I see way too many dogs not in their owner’s control on trails (trails meant for walkers, joggers, cyclists, horses). Dogs are off leash, or walking on any which part of the trail they choose… leashed or not. Just yesterday, a woman had her dog on a gentle leader… She walked her dog off the trail while myself and other cyclists went by. This would have worked out well if her dog hadn’t escaped.

      It’s common sense. If your dog is that reactive, there are plenty of other (less crowded) places to walk. I walk my DINOS before the sun comes up for a good hour or so. We see few people, cars, or cyclists. And everyone’s happy.

      But it was a great post. Funny, light-hearted way to discuss a serious issue.

      May 7, 2012
  8. Jessica J. #

    Great post and I’ll share it too, never enough people to know these bits of wisdom! Usually I’m as badly spooked by joggers as my dogs are, and only once (in over a decade of doggie walking) I was passed by a man who walked relaxed past me, made a bit of easy conversation about wanting to be fine with dogs when I asked him why he behaved so perfectly and after a few meters he was back on track. Now, that wasn’t so difficult!

    Usually on Saturdays my favorite bit of the woods is swamped by bikers so I avoid it, but whenever I forget I notice that the first one or two will mostly be courteous about the chance meeting, the middle of the group will be indifferent and the last two dog-bite-wannabees will actually zoom by between me and my dogs… great work guys.

    Joggers and bikers can go ANYwhere and they look like at me I’m the spoilsport when I walk in the one area my dogs are allowed off leash – and yes I always move off the path, the dogs are called to stand and wait next to me when I have the time to do so. If I can share the space, why can’t they without sour looks?

    May 3, 2012
  9. I’d be happy to move over if I just knew they were back there. I used to wear a vest asking bikers to let us know they were back there but it didn’t work. On two different occasions, cops on bikes went right by us very close without announcing – while I was wearing my vest. Here is a video of me making the vest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2c2yuq9ksNU

    May 3, 2012
    • Me too! I’m always checking over my shoulder, but it’s not enough – they come up from behind so fast that there’s no way to be ready, off to the side, all the time. I’ll check out the video – thanks!

      May 4, 2012
  10. Bob #

    Most people just seem to be completely asleep at the wheel out there. Whether it’s peds 2 or 3 wide blocking the whole path, or running right down the middle instead of to one side or the other, dogs off-leash or with 6ft of leash stretched across the trail like a clothesline, or cyclists riding down the wrong side or not ringing a bell or something to announce they are passing. Everyone needs to realize that YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE ON THE PATH and that involves SHARING and PAYING ATTENTION.

    May 3, 2012
  11. Wow this is great! I have to share. As an avid runner (marathoner) and Dog advocate, rescue volunteer….I get this post. Just two months ago, a dog startled on a local greenway bit the passing runner. It was sad for both the runner, dog and dog owner. I run with my dogs ( only two at a time) often but it is very early am so we don’t have to deal with other people or dogs. Great post! @marathoningmom/BoxerRunner http://rescuingandrunning.wordpress.com/

    May 3, 2012
    • I’m sorry to hear that. I’m actually surprised bites like that don’t happen more often…
      Thanks for sharing and for being such an awesome running rescuer!

      May 8, 2012
  12. Great post!

    Peoples’ lack of courtesy and sense surprises me daily, but especially when I’m walking my dog. I mean, do you really want to startle a Doberman? That’s the equalizer; we never run into breed prejudice if somebody is jogging or on a bike. They’ll bomb right past us regardless. While not afraid of bicycles, Elka seems to regard them with concern and suspicion, as if to say “I’m not sure that’s safe!”

    May 3, 2012
  13. I’m so used to having to jump into the bushes or pressing myself and the dog to the nearest tree to get out of the way of speedfreak bikers, that I’m still startled by what happened some time ago:
    In the park, a biker approached us from behind in moderate speed, said “Excuse me” in a friendly voice and gave me enough time to allow me to tell my dachshund to sit next to me.
    It was amazing.
    Only happened once.
    In two years.

    What I’m really afraid of are tiny kids on their tiny bikes getting tunnel vision, fixating the dachshund and nearly crashing into him. Because when I say “Please don’t!”, the mother usually gets a hysteric fit. And people wonder why my dog is afraid of children.

    May 4, 2012
    • oooh. that does sound amazing! I wish I could give that guy a trophy for being so polite!

      May 4, 2012
  14. jackie #

    I think my ‘favourite’ experience was when walking around a local nature reserve. Most of it your dog has to be on a lead, but there is a fenced path around the outside labelled at every entrance ‘dog walk area, dogs running free’. Joggers absolutely love this path, to the extent that I can no longer use it with my Dinos dog. The final straw for this was the day we encountered a jogger who, having chosen to use the path, yelled with fear as she encountered each dog… that went down well, as you can imagine.

    May 4, 2012
    • I’ve had a lot of people scream in fear – just at the dogs in general (the dogs weren’t doing anything but walking). Then they wind up creating a problem that wasn’t there to begin with!

      May 4, 2012
  15. rw1647 #

    Thanks for posting this! there is a great, very long and beautiful bike and pedestrian trail less than 500 feet from my front door, but I can rarely take advantage of it with the dogs. Neither are people-reactive, luckily, but Asher (my DINO) is quite dog-reactive and very concerned about rollerbladers, so the combination of scary people with wheeled feet whipping around us with no warning and other dog walkers wandering their “friendly” dogs on 10 ft leads or running up right behind us with no warning (eliciting a snarling, screaming fit from Ash!) AND the bikers cutting right in front or behind us yelling about how much space my dogs take on “their” trail…well, we stick to the sidewalks, even for runs. And I’ll second the comment about people running with their dogs on the sidewalks…speaking as someone who needs to do this for her dog’s safety and mental well-being, there are ways to do this with courtesy! I will switch to the street for a few feet whenever possible if we have to pass other pedestrians and always cross the road if there are dogs, for our sake and theirs. I don’t want to set anyone up for stress when being polite and sharing the sidewalks like a grown-up is so easy!

    May 5, 2012
  16. Elizabeth Champ #

    Luckily my dog doesn’t startle easily (unlike me) but she has developed a very passive-aggressive response to joggers that go by too closely. She just waits till they are inches away and surreptitiously… licks their calves. “Yum, salty sweat” says the balloon over her head. It’s admittedly pretty bizarre.

    May 7, 2012
  17. Elizabeth Champ #

    Like many pit bulls…humans can really do NO WRONG in her book. Last week some random guy came up and started petting her…then hugging her…then smoooooshing her. I realized that he was really drunk and basically had to PEEL him off of her. But she was very patient! The only thing that freaks her out is the very high pitched dolphin type shriek that comes from small children. Which is why we keep our distance from very small children….you just never know when they may shriek!

    May 7, 2012
  18. Lynda #

    Fantastic post! My great danes are both deaf, so I have to be their ears. Even when I hear a bike/jogger coming up behind us, I’m amazed at the lack of space they give me. So now I always speak out and say “My dogs are deaf and cannot hear you coming, please give us space!”.

    June 22, 2012
  19. dogascopilot #

    I love this post. I often walk on a very wide trail in my home town with my dog. I’m disabled and I work my service dog in a mobility harness that helps me maintain my balance. It’s a pleasant walk that we both enjoy. On two separate occasions I have fallen as a direct result of a biker or a jogger coming up from behind very quickly and passing too close to me and my dog. It is startling even for a very well trained dog to have a fast moving object suddenly right next to us. My service dog tends to want to move away from the jogger or biker and any sudden movement from him into me generally leads to me loosing my balance. We used to walk on the far right hand of the path, now we walk on the far left hand of the path so that my dog is between me and the side and he is no longer startled.

    September 6, 2013
  20. That’s exactly how Colleen Lynn (the woman who runs dogsbite.org and is trying to kill every pit bull in existence) got bitten. She ran between a dog and a wall (instead of oh, I don’t know, going around the OTHER side away from the dog) and go bit…which then morphed into a mauling and almost losing her arm (which she broke when she fell down). It’s infuriating.

    March 13, 2014

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  1. Weekly Woof from the Web – Dog Bite Prevention « Pet Central's Pawsitive Dawgs Blog!
  2. Are You Giving or Taking Space? It Matters. | notes from a dog walker

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