By: Mike Decker
Us runners have many archenemies. The Right Knee. The Icy Sidewalk. That guy wearing that salmon colored 80’s Nike windbreaker who barely beats you at every 5k. And, finally, The Dog. This is different from your normal dog; it isn’t your dog for one. Also, strange things happen to dogs when they see humans run; they want to bite, play, or chase runners.
I was thinking about this the other day has I was having an altercation with what I can only describe as a combination Weiner dog and hound. This Weiner hound, as it were, was eating a can of spilled beans when it spotted me. It ran towards me while bellowing and making weird whiny noises. I couldn’t read it. Did it want to play? Did it want to eat my calf muscle? Was it in search of a master because obviously it was enjoying a random can of beans next to the bike path and I can’t think of any dog owner who’d let that happened? This Weiner hound was joined by a bounding bulldog – a prearranged tag team – and they both came at me as I strode ahead trying to keep it cool. It ended soon there after with the Weiner Hound of Death peeling off quickly, yipping desperate high pitched yodels over its shoulder and joining the bulldog in the middle of the street.
I wondered, afterward, what runners can do to not get bit. Runners have to get good at reading dogs. They have to recognize the type of dog they’re dealing with and respond accordingly. The following is a dog guideline. It’s advice. Take what you will and leave the rest behind.
The “ I wanna be your buddy” Dog
If this type of dog –happy, tongue flopping- persists on following you, stop and find out where it lives. If it continues to follow you a car might hit it. It’s happened to me unfortunately.
The Yippy Dog
Territorial yet Chicken. Usually small and annoying, this pocket pooch rarely leaves the yard. Keep going but watch the sucker out the corner of your eyes.
The Best Dog in the World
Gently comes over with its tongue hanging out looking happier than a clam. Stop, kneel down and rub this fella behind the ears.
The Startled Biter Dog
It’s old, it’s deaf and it doesn’t know you’re about to blow by it. When you see a dog that doesn’t appear to see or hear you clap your hands, make some noise, let it know your coming or this normally sweet pup will come at your ankles with razor sharp teeth.
The Intimidator Dog
Usually large or of Doberman/Rottweiler blood, these dogs are sometimes hard to read. Most owners of these breeds are aware of their intimidation factor and keep them chained up or behind a fence. My advice: pick up a stick or rock, cross the street and look sharp while running steady.
The Crazed Tasmanian Devil Dog
These dogs don’t know what the heck is going on. “ Why is this human running? Why is it near my territory? Is it coming for me? Holy Crap, what do I do?!” Confused, aggressive, they tear towards you snarling with a wary white-eyed look. I say you should yell sternly while pointing a finger. If this doesn’t work make a fake aggressive move towards it. Most dogs of this type will run away or stop. If they don’t then run like hell, find a weapon and protect yourself.
The Silent Monster Dog
The worst dog for runners. This demon dog doesn’t make any noise as it stealthily tracks it’s prey: YOU. In my opinion these are the most likely to bite; they tend to be aggressive and undeterred. Find a barrier between you and the dog. Make a lot of noise while making yourself bigger by raising your arms – yes, act like a cougar is chasing you instead of some horrible man-flesh loving canine nightmare. If you can find a rock or a stick don’t be afraid to use it – I’m not an advocate of hitting a dog but you have to protect yourself.