January 22, 2013
Super Safety Tip #3: Beware of Dogs!
Runner need to look out for cars, troublesome weather and other people. But we also need to look out for other hazards like animals. Although wild animals are unlikely to bother runners, pet dogs are an entirely different story. These domesticated canines can be very dangerous!
When running really early in the morning, it seems like the only people crazy enough to be outside are runners and dog walkers. The dog walkers are usually pretty friendly and well-behaved. The pets can be a very different story. They can get very excited and if poorly trained may even bite.
Your best bet is usually to give the dog and owner a lot of space. Good dog walkers will step off the sidewalk and hold the leash tightly. If they don’t, you should move off of the path and give them a wide berth. Make eye contact with the dog owner to indicate that you want them to keep their dog back.
Here are some great do’s and don’ts from Runner’s World about how to deal with dogs:
DON’T: A high-pitched, shrieking voice broadcasts fear and may activate the dog’s fight instinct.
DO: Use a deep, firm voice to convey a sense of calm.
DON’T: Turn your back and run—that’ll make you look like prey, which may encourage a chase.
DO: Stand tall, facing the dog and slowly, calmly back away.
DON’T: Direct eye contact can seem aggressive to a dog, further encouraging a physical encounter.
DO: Watch the dog out of the corner of your eye without making direct eye contact.
DON’T: Cowering may activate a prey response, while a combative position may instigate a fight.
DO: Stay relaxed, and use an upright posture to give a sense of authority.
TIP: LAST SHOT
If a scary dog really comes at you, spray it with water if you have a bottle. Clough suggests carrying mace, just in case. “It sounds terrible, but it doesn’t hurt the dog, and you’re teaching it not to be so aggressive.”