How Runners Can Protect Against Dog Attacks

With the warmer summer weather, many Indiana residents are tying on their sneakers and hitting the pavement. However, running and jogging in your neighborhood means an increased risk of dog bites and animal attacks. In fact, runners are at increased risk of a dog attack not only because of their availability on city sidewalks, parks, and suburban streets, but because they provide aggressive and potentially dangerous dogs something to chase. In a dog's primitive brain, he might be the wolf, and you might be the deer or other prey.


How can a runner lower his or her chances of a dog attack while exercising?

  • Keep on the lookout for aggressive dogs during your run. If you spot one in the distance, try to alter your route or simply cross the street. Although many runners use earphones while jogging, running without music playing helps you keep aware of your surroundings.
  • If you see a dog in the distance, be sure not to surprise it. An unknown human entering a dog's space can be seen as threatening, especially if the dog is unaware of your approach. Don't be afraid to say something to the dog when you are heading its way.
  • If you spot an aggressive dog off leash and chasing you, stop running. Even though this goes against your instinct, it will stop the "game" in which you are the prey and it is the hunter.
  • Avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • Do not strike the dog unless he has already attacked you—but also do not put your hand out to the dog if it is snarling or acting aggressive in any other way.
  • If the dog does attack you, try to get something in its mouth that is not a body part—such as a shirt or jacket you may have around your waist—or even a water bottle or iPod.

Dog owners can also do their part in minimizing the number of runner dog bite incidents. The most important step you can take is to keep your dog on a leash and control him at all times while outside of your yard. Also make sure your dog knows simple obedience commands that will keep them from ignoring your orders and going after a runner or jogger. Also make sure your dog is accustomed to everything that might happen while on a walk through the neighborhood. A dog that is scared or unfamiliar with a situation is more likely to attack. If you train your puppy early and often to ignore bikers and runners on the road, you will have a safer and happier pet. Finally, if you do have an aggressive dog, be sure to muzzle the animal while walking.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller