Exercise! - Big "Stray" Dogs

View Full Version : Big "Stray" Dogs

01-03-2007, 08:58 PM
When walking or running, how do you handle dogs that are not behind a fence, not chained and don't seem to have an owner anywhere around?

I have a major phobia of big dogs that seems to have gotten worse the older I get. When I try to walk, I'm constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure a big dog is not coming in my direction. Its not that I don't like dogs...I have 3 of my own...but, they are all under 10 pounds. The big dogs are the ones that scare me as I dont think I could keep them off of me if they decided to attack. What if I'm too close to their property? or maybe they just won't like something about me or they may feel threatened for some reason? I've just heard so many stories the last few years of children getting attacked while walking home for school, etc. It seems like everytime I get my nerve up to walk around my neighborhood, I see a big dog running loose. What do you do if you see a stray dog? I turn around and walk as fast as I can back to the house...praying the whole time that they dont come after me! Do you just keep walking? Is there any way to protect myself if the dog attacks...like pepper spray or something. I definitely do not want to harm a dog in any way, but I really would like to walk with assurance that I can protect myself if anything were to happen.

I used to run 5 miles a day and never worried. I'd love to be able to run again some day...and not only on the treadmill!

01-03-2007, 09:16 PM
I totally understand your delema, I have the same fear ... But I go anyways what the heck I'm not going to let a dog stop me from running...

Once I saw a dog down the street in the wee hours of the morning and I got up on someones veranda and waited almost 5 minutes till the dog passed by. I had no qualms of explaining to the people of the house what was going on if they should happen to look out their window and see a stranger standing there. They could see the big dog too...

When I meet up with a dog that I can't avoid I slow down till he and I pass and don't make eye contact with the animal. I'd read somewhere that some dogs take eye contact as a threat. I've also read that you should not run, because then they will run after you... I would never be able to run faster than a dog anyways, big or small dog even.

Maybe carrying some mace spray with you would help to make you feel more secure, and I don't think it's harmful to anymals. I have no idea where to get mace though...

01-03-2007, 09:22 PM
Ooooh Rhonda, I know exactly what you are talking about. I don't have any issues with dogs when I'm here in Chicago because I run along the lakefront path, and the dogs are almost always either leashed or controlled by their owners, and they are not on "their" territory, so I think they are not as agressive.

But, when I visit my parent's house, there are dogs patrolling their houses throughout the subdivision, and many of them seem to be out without any barriers - it's possible that there are electronic fences up, but it is very unnerving to have an aggressively barking dog running in your direction without anything visible to stop them. I usually just try to change my path to be as far away from their turf as possible and keep running - that has always worked out ok. I do carry pepper spray whenever I run, more to protect against two-legged attackers, but I have thought to myself that if a dog got too close, I could use it.

So, it's never stopped me from doing what I want to do but I do find it annoying - why should any passer-by have to worry about being attacked. I love dogs, but I really think that people should not be allowed to let them out without a fence.

At least I did get some revenge....on Thanksgiving morning, I got up very early to run - probably 6 or 6:30, so early that the dogs were mostly still indoors, and I could hear the barking emanating from several houses as I passed. I could only think "I hope your owners are awake now!"

01-03-2007, 09:26 PM
They make a specialty pepper spray for this, or you can use a standard one. Granted, you'll probably never have to use it, but it might give you a lot of piece of mind (against not only dogs, but against humans too, if it ever came to that, though I obviously hope that it wouldn't).

As long as you don't live in NY or MA, you can buy pepper spray online. My personal canister came to me via EBay, for less than 10 dollars including shipping.

01-03-2007, 09:28 PM
I do carry pepper spray. I would only use it if being attacked. Making the first move with pepper spray can result in an attack. I also wear a heavy watch on my left arm and if attacked would "offer" that as a target to protect my face, neck and writing arm.

I stop if I see a stray dog and evaluate his approach, does he look threatening or just...exuberant. I have a deep seated dislike of big dogs, but over the years I have trained myself to remain calm and read most dogs pretty well. There are 3 breeds I will not ever judge as friendly because of past experience. (rottweiler, doberman, pitt bull)

If there is a dog that appears threatening I slowly back away, I do not turn, I do not run. I did have to backtrack around a very long run once because there was a dog that was clearly not in the mood to let me pass.

At some level you have to decide whether your fear is at a realistic level though. Are there a lot of reported dog attacks in your neighborhood? Chances are there arent. If you arent sure ask your local police. It sounds like this is bordering on a phobia more than a realistic fear.

I run out in the country where there are a LOT of farm dogs and I have been barked at often, felt threatened by the one mentioned above, but never attacked.

I bought my mace at a sporting goods store at the ammunitions counter

01-04-2007, 09:11 AM
So, I turn on the TV this morning and guess what is the lead story on the news today?.....'Woman attacked by Pit Bulls."...can you believe it!!!

Thanks to everyone for your responses. Ennay, you are probably right...this has become a bit of a phobia..and I'm aware of that.....however, the fear is very real and I still have to deal with it. I have decided to pick up some pepper spray..hopefully, I will never have to use it, but I think it will give me a sense of security so I can get out there and get in shape again.

01-04-2007, 10:56 AM
Stun guns work better on dogs than pepper spray. Buy one that makes a loud crackling sound and the sound alone will often scare the dog away.

Per ABC News: How to Protect Yourself in a Dog Attack (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Health/story?id=2088426)

What Not to Do:

1. Take flight. Don't run away from the dog, because it triggers the dog's prey drive. Once that happens, the dog will want to turn and chase you.

2. If the dog catches you and starts attacking, don't hit it. The more you fight back, the more the struggle feeds into the dog's defensive drives and the more he wants to kill that prey and take it home.

What to Do:

1. If you are approached by a vicious dog, relax and be as still as possible.

2. Drop your head so you don't make eye contact, but maintain an upright position.

3. Cover you ears and press your elbows to your sides. This way, if the dog bites you, your ears, eyes, rib cage and vital organs are protected.

4. If the dog grabs your arm or your leg, try to remain motionless. If the dog thinks you're dead, it should let go of you.

01-04-2007, 07:42 PM
I'm in the process of looking for a stun gun for my walks as well. However, my reasoning is not that I'm afraid for my own safety, but my dog's. I own a large dog; a very submissive female. She has been attacked 4 times while I have walked her...in different states, cities, locations, etc. The last time was while I was visiting my parents over the holidays. On Christmas Eve, we were hiking a trail and out of nowhere, a pit bull came out of the woods and attacked her. For five minutes, I tried to pull that dog off of her, and was eventually successful. My dog came out ok, but by the time the owners showed up (5 more minutes later!!!), I was a stressed out, emotional basketcase.

So I have decided that a stun gun is the best device to protect her (and myself). I considered pepper spray, but I'm afraid of hurting my own dog.

I let my dog outside by herself because she is very well-trained and a scaredy cat. She will just sit and watch cats, squirrels, other dogs, and people and I never have to worry about her wandering off or becoming aggressive. However, I have a huge problem with people who are not as polite and allow their dogs to bark, chase people, attack other dogs, etc. No wonder people have phobias...things like that happen way too often.

01-04-2007, 07:57 PM
Thank goodness I live in an area where it is AGAINST THE LAW to let your dogs run free. Granted there are a few people who have very well behaved dogs and can walk them off leash. I actually envy them! How I would love to have a dog that obeyed unconditionally. But they don't. They have a mind of their own, so they have to be on leash.

The only dog I have a problem with is some little thing that thinks he can whip my dog. He's only 8 or 10 pounds, but once, he came up to my dog and bit him on the nose! He was on leash, too. Now we avoid him and his owner at great lenghts (I think others do, too).

I see a lot of non-dog people walk around here with golf clubs in hand. I presume this would be to fend off an attack, but I've never seen anyone in action.

On a side note, our house alarm went off a few months back and the police came. My yellow lab was home alone and was outside in back when the police came through the gate to check the house. My dog ran to him (he is extremely friendly) and the policeman sprayed him with pepper spray. It certainly turned my dog around. My DH arrived a few minutes later and the policeman explained what he did and did apologize, but he didn't know (and we weren't mad). When I got home later, I felt so bad for my old dog that I kissed him on the forehead. I couldn't understand why it made my lips burn. Silly me! It was the pepper spray! I gave him a good face washing after that. He obviously didn't suffer from the spray at all, but it was effective.

IMO, carry pepper spray or another spray intended for animals (and carry a cell phone in case of a bigger emergency).

01-04-2007, 08:14 PM
Jen, I'm so sorry your dog has been attacked. My dogs are like children to me and the thought of them being hurt makes my heart hurt. Allison, I'm so very glad to hear that the pepper spray didnt hurt your dog. I really don't want to hurt any dog. I'm not so sure about stun guns...I thought they were illegal? I'll have to check into that.

01-05-2007, 12:16 AM
We have a leash law here too, but the electronic fences drive ME nuts. I actually have this problem when walking my kids in a stroller in the past. A yard that looks dog-free will suddenly have an animal charging at you, scaring the life out of you (and let's not forget they are right on FACE LEVEL with a child in a stroller). They will pull back about a foot or 2 from the sidewalk and just continue to bark/growl at you. But there's a whole 15 seconds there that you don't know WHAT will happen - is there an elect. fence, will the animal stop this time, what if? Sometimes the owners will come out and call the dog back, which is NEVER effective, but it makes me crazy and has permanently terrified my youngest into a real fear of dogs. (Plus she's also been pounced upon twice by dogs that run up to her and place their forepaws on her shoulders - again face to face - dogs that are on leashes that their owners don't retract enough at the bus stop or the soccer field, grrrr). This is why I am permanently attached to my treadmill now. It's just not worth the aggravation and for me, turns what should be a positive experience into something else I have to worry about or anticipate.