Once I was riding my road bike down a rural road. I heard barking over my shoulder and saw two dobermans running toward me. I can't think of a time in my life that I felt more endangered.

I reacted instinctively and accelerated. Unfortunately I was on a gravel road and going into a bit of an incline. There was no way I could outrun those dogs. I looked back over my shoulder and they were no longer chasing me. The cycling gods must have been smiling on me.

Another time, in a similar situation, a different dog ran along next to me, barking and baring its teeth. I maintained my speed and yelled at it (trying to assert some dominance) until it got tired of chasing me.

These two experiences have done a lot to put me off touring alone.

How do I deal with issues like this?

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    I've lightly edited your answer to make it more of a request for information and less of a discussion-starter. ("Does anyone have advice...".) Good question, although I suspect the answer will be "it depends". There's no single strategy that works with all dogs, although there are ways to be prepared. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 20:15
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    Two words: frame pump. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 20:42
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    I find it amusing that your gravatar has a dog. Good question though - I've had some bad experiences with dogs too, and would be interested to see what people say?
    – nhinkle
    Commented Feb 25, 2012 at 7:28
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    I'd like to hear why someone voted to close, perhaps the question can be improved further. (Yes, there can be no single way to deal with this problem, aside from "stay at home and don't go near dogs", but the question is still an important one.) Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 1:48
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    Hi Sunil, do you have experience with this device? Has it helped you in the past? What type of situation? Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 13:55

33 Answers 33


I am a rural cyclist and have already met hundreads of dogs in my way. Here is some advice collected from experince.

Dogs are defending something

For thousands of years dogs have been artifically selected by humans to be domestic. There is hardly any remaining wild dog around. Food is provided by their owners, so they won't attack you for meal. They are defending their territory and owner. To have you out of their territory, the dog could try to kill you, but fighting for life is risky for the dog too. Barking and trying to scare you away poses much less risk and that is its wager.


If you keep on riding, the more intrepid dogs will bark at a dangerously short distance from your heels. I have been bitten for doing this on a descent (since I was coasting slowly, it was all too easy for the dog to aim my leg, but again, it was a warding off bite and not the first move of a battle for life). If riding on sandy terrain, you may lose traction and fall.

Dismounted, dogs will keep a more respectful distance. As you keep walking and heading out of his territory's boundaries, the dog will start lagging behind until you are no longer a threat. Don't run though; Preys run and you don't want to be taken for one.

I have never had a dog engage on me while dismounted. They will bark and keep their distance. But if you don't want to put all your stakes on it,

Grab an object, the larger and more maneuverable, the better

If you have nothing, grab whatever you can find, a broken branch lying on the ground is a good candidate. Don't make a gratuitous attack, as that could earn you a real confrontation, but only use it for keeping the dog at a distance. Dogs usually fear even the frailest of sticks.

Even better is to plan for it and bring something. I have exchanged my mini-pump for this 70 cm (width) x 3 cm (diameter) stick.

Stick on the pump strap

No dog has ever failed to pathetically wince back whenever I brandished it. Fortunately, never had to use it for real. A dog would need a very good reason to take the risk of having his skull smashed.

The stick is also useful if you are in a hurry and have no time to dismount. And I doubt any law considers bearing a stick illegal.

Extra notes

  • Consult the local biking community about the routes that have more or less dogs.

  • A group of dogs is more annoying and wage more than a single dog. Likewise, a dog is less powerful if you are cycling in a group.

  • Most dogs are pets, but some are specially educated to be guard dogs and to attack intruders. It is the owner's obligation to guarantee that such dogs are physically restrained to the property they are guarding. If you encounter a roaming guard dog, report the event to authorities.

If you like dogs (do this at your own risk)

Sometimes, if the dog is not very large and menacing and keeps a good distance, I lower my body and call it friendly. On my experience, the dog may

  • lower its ears, wag its tail and approach mistrustfully, but placated. You have likely earned a friend and can play a bit with it, but don't make brisk movements at the start of the interaction. Dogs are sincere creatures, they won't pretend to be appeased just to get closer to attack you.

  • actually wince back from your mere movement, thus betraying much fear and that it was all a bluff. You can keep going on more relieved, for although that is no friend, it is not a foe either.

  • keep barking. Withdraw your invitation and keep heading out.


I usually carry something edible with me. But one day I didn't have any cookies in my pocket.

I fell into a stupor and remembered that my father when I was still very young, scared away the dogs with aggressive and confident sounds 😅. It is very important to show the dog that you are more confident and dangerous, you need to straighten your shoulders, make them more massive, take a threatening posture, and make aggressive sounds - this helped me, it is essential to note that then I carried the bike next to me. Therefore, if you are on a bicycle, you should not stop to scare away the dogs, it is better to continue riding.

This is very individual advice, it helped me personally, but after this moment I do not forget to bring sweets with me. It is easier to distract an animal than to compete with it in aggressiveness!


Lately I was attacked by enormous amounts of dogs while riding. Wished I had pepper spray. I've never used it but I believe it will work. See in the link attached my experience with dogs recorded in my head camera; lots of them. I was lucky I was not eaten alive. Here only a gun would probably have stopped them. I believe it's figuring out who the leader of the pack and attacking it.

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    Everything you did just made the situation worse. There was no reason to begin yelling and getting hysterical about the dogs. They were not threatening you. Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 4:35
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    The Youtube video is not viewable
    – MilkyWay90
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 3:37

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