Channel Islands Bicycle Club
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As Rusch found out, dogs can be a bigger threat than all wildlife. Darrell Smith says that the United States averages about 1.5 deaths a year from large wild carnivore attacks in total. By contrast, about 20 people per year die due to dog bites, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.
Almost all the same techniques that you can use on wildlife work with dogs. Remember: Dogs aren’t always aggressive—sometimes they’re just defending territory. “Step one, if you can, is to outrun them,” says cyclist and dog trainer Jonathan Klein. If you’re on a flat or downhill, you can probably sustain that speed far longer than the dog. But an hour into the climb on a seven-percent grade? “Trying to outrun them is probably not the best plan,” says Klein.
If you can’t outrun them, stop and put your bike between you. “Some hunting breeds, it’s just in their instinct to chase things that are moving, so stopping can defuse the situation,” says Klein. OK, now what? Be the human. Try simple commands like “Go home” and “No.” Don’t challenge the dog with staring and overt posturing. You can also try to distract them with a trick like throwing an imaginary stick—body language they understand.
If you’re attacked, fight back, but with a large breed in full attack mode, you may simply have to curl up and protect your head, neck, and chest. Klein also recommends bear spray, but says the old water-bottle spray trick probably won’t work in a real attack.
One other option I have used successfully is throwing your Cliff Bar for other food you may have on you for the dog(s). It has worked for me.