Monday, 22 March 2010

What is it with dogs and bikes?

Twice within the space of a mile on Sunday I had to deal with that scourge of the cyclist, the chasing dog.

The first incident was with two dogs running along parallel to me but in a garden behind a fence. I could see that the fence had chicken wire tacked all along it, presumably to keep the dogs off the road, so wasn't bothered by them. Unfortunately whoever put up the wire didn't do such a good job and one of the dogs was able to get out at the end of the fence to run alongside me on the grass verge. He wasn't trying to get at me but was very agitated so I was worried he'd veer out and push me into the path of a car or worse.

As is my usual tactic I got my bottle out of the cage and gave him a quick squirt. That's generally enough to make them stop in their tracks, at least long enough for me to get out of range.

Not a mile after that, I'd settled in to my rhythm again when I spotted another mutt in a field to my left. He'd obviously seen me and was beside himself with excitement, rushing along the hedgerow looking for a way out. This guy was almost comically excited and obviously didn't mean any harm, but he found his gap and ran straight out in front of me ... on a corner. At least I'd spotted him so had my bottle ready. Another quick squirt and he was running for the field again.

But what is it with these dogs? They live on reasonably busy, country roads near a major city. They must see bikes going by all the time. They certainly see cars and trucks all the time but don't chase them. So why bikes?

Several websites I've looked up suggest it's down to the dogs predatory instinct. They just love to chase! Most, but not all, know that chasing cars is pointless but a bike is slower and the rider more visible so it's fair game. Having said that most of the dog owner sites also suggest you shouldn't try to outrun them but should stop and take the fun out of it for them, keeping your bike as a "fence" between you and the dog just in case. I think I'll stick with the bottle!

And what about their owners? Do they not see/hear the barking? Do they not realise the danger the dogs pose to cyclists and themselves by this behaviour? Mind you, I'm not going to stop and knock on the door to tell them with a manic dog running about!

Feel free to leave a comment if you've got any good dog v bike stories.

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