Almost every cyclist or outdoor runner can recount to you an incident they had with a dog. Even though these incidents are often brushed off as “just another run-in with a dog,” a dog bite can be extremely vicious and result in severe injuries to the victim. The following tips can help you protect yourself from a dog bite or, at the very least, let you know what you should do when you encounter a dog while cycling or running.
One of the first things a cyclist should do when attacked by a dog is to slow down to avoid the dog and dismount, so that he or she doesn’t fall from their bike, get injured, and thereby become less able to protect themselves.
When you dismount from your bike, make sure that the bike is in between you and the dog. Use your bike as a shield, holding it firmly and swinging it back and forth in front of your body. If necessary, you can even use your bike as a weapon to strike the dog and let it know that you are serious about protecting yourself. Most dogs, however, will see you swinging the bike back and forth and simply walk away.
Stop and Face the Attack
Whenever a dog attacks you when you are running outdoors, it is imperative that you stop and face the dog. Firstly, this will allow you to assess the dog’s intentions and secondly, it will give the dog the impression that you are not weak or afraid and that you are prepared to defend yourself.
After facing the dog, back away from the encounter as slowly and carefully as possible. If the dog is still intent on biting you, offer something else for it to bite, such as a hat or glove. Then, while it is occupied with that, you can move away or, if necessary, strike or kick the dog to protect yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t run from an attacking dog. First of all, you are rarely ever going to outrun the dog and secondly, unless you are sure that you can make it to a barrier of some kind, you will only ignite the dog’s natural instinct to chase you.
Curl Up in a Ball
If the dog manages to trip you or knock you off of your bike, roll yourself up in a ball and cover your head, much like you were taught to do in tornado drills in school. Then, be as still as possible under the circumstance. The more boring the dog finds you to be, the more likely it is to simply leave you alone.
Be Prepared in Advance
The most effective prevention against a dog bite for a runner or cyclist is to be familiar with your route. You can drive the route a couple of times to see if you notice any areas along the route where there may be dogs that are not properly restrained. You can then plan to avoid these areas or to be extra vigilant when you approach them.
If you ever notice a dog ahead that gives you cause to be concerned, you should stop sooner rather than later. The sooner you stop, the more distance you keep between yourself and the dog and the better your chance of avoiding an encounter.
Finally, if you are particularly concerned about being attacked by a dog when you are out running or cycling, you can carry a canister of pepper spray or mace for protection.
Contact a Dog Bite Attorney in Pennsylvania
Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esquire is a skilled dog bite lawyer. He has successfully represented many clients in lawsuits involving dog attacks, and can handle your case successfully as he has for countless other dog bite victims. Call Pennsylvania’s Premier Dog Bite Lawyer at 215-771-0430 (cell) or 215-987-3550 (office) or contact us online for a free case review.