Many runners have canine tales of woe. A runner may trigger a dog’s hunting instinct, be perceived as a territorial challenger, or a dog might simply be ill-tempered.
Runners can lower their odds of joining over 4.5 million dog-bite victims in the U.S. each year, 20 percent of whom require ER visits. Scout new road routes via car prior to running. Note off-leash dogs, dog signage, open gates, etc.
To improve awareness, ditch your headphones or earbuds (at least lower the volume). If you see an untended dog in the distance, cross the street or take a detour.
Carry a small air horn for emergencies. It unleashes a high-decibel sound that jolts a dog’s sensitive hearing and may send it scurrying. Pepper spray can be beneficial, but a miss might escalate the situation; wind can make things tricky, too.
If you encounter an aggressive dog — some combination of bared fangs, growling, tense body, erect ears, stiff tail (or held high, wagging faster than normal):
- Stop running; stand still with arms folded across your chest; stay calm.
- Avoid direct eye contact.
- Turn sideways and utilize peripheral vision.
- Vocalize firm commands such as “Go home!”
Most dogs will eventually get bored or befuddled — or sometimes obey! — and retreat. However, if the dog attacks:
• Unleash the air horn or pepper spray.
• Place something between you and the dog: water bottle, cap/visor, towel, etc.
• In a sustained attack, punch, kick, knee, and yell for help.
• Getting knocked down can be life-threatening. Curl up in a ball, chin and knees tucked, and cover your ears and neck with your
arms (clench your hands).
Following an attack, seek medical attention, call animal control and/or the police, and contact Jason at 404-474-0804. Unless you provoked the dog or were trespassing, the dog’s owner will likely be responsible for your injuries and damages.