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Reading dog behavior while riding

Old 08-30-19, 10:37 AM
  #1  
dagray 
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Reading dog behavior while riding

So the other day I took my mountain bike out for a seven mile ride and encountered a couple dogs that came out to "greet" me. I noticed that the dogs tail was up and wagging (good for me), dog was smiling (good for me), and the dogs bark was more of a "come play with me" bark instead of an "I'm going to eat you" bark.

These are farm dogs and used to staying out of the way of pickups so I wasn't worried about running over them, but the bigger of the two dogs got close enough to give my lower leg a few licks (no I don't think he was tasting me to find out if I would be good eating).

Had the tails been down or tucked, and had the bark sounded different and the facial expression been different on the dogs I may have been in trouble or in pain from a bite.

Try to learn to read dog behavior so that you don't get bit especially if you are riding rural roads.
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Old 08-30-19, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by dagray View Post
So the other day I took my mountain bike out for a seven mile ride and encountered a couple dogs that came out to "greet" me. I noticed that the dogs tail was up and wagging (good for me), dog was smiling (good for me), and the dogs bark was more of a "come play with me" bark instead of an "I'm going to eat you" bark.

These are farm dogs and used to staying out of the way of pickups so I wasn't worried about running over them, but the bigger of the two dogs got close enough to give my lower leg a few licks (no I don't think he was tasting me to find out if I would be good eating).

Had the tails been down or tucked, and had the bark sounded different and the facial expression been different on the dogs I may have been in trouble or in pain from a bite.

Try to learn to read dog behavior so that you don't get bit especially if you are riding rural roads.
While it's true you can probably tell if a dog is likely to take a snap at you, "reading the dog" isn't going to give you a lot of cues as to whether the dog is going to "play" himself under your wheel or knock you down while trying to give you a hug. A dog running towards you on a bike is always a safety threat. Reading the dog may help you figure out how best to counter that threat while preventing harm to yourself and the dog.
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Old 08-30-19, 10:58 AM
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Old 08-30-19, 11:18 AM
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Dogs don't smile, nor can anyone understand what dogs mean when they bark.

People are free to think that they can tell what a dog is going to do based on the sound of their bark or the shape of their mouth and Oregon isn't Georgia.

A rider here had his leg mauled a few weeks ago and here in North Georgia we are pretty fed up with it.


-Tim-
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Old 08-30-19, 11:18 AM
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Old 08-30-19, 11:25 AM
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I was riding the Illinois Prairie Path through West Chicago earlier in the season (not to be confused with the west side of Chicago), and saw a loose pitbull in the middle of the path ahead of me. I cut my ride short, turned 180 degrees, and rode the other direction. Not worth finding out if he was friendly or not.
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Old 08-30-19, 11:27 AM
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I've really got to order some pepper spray.
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Old 08-30-19, 11:53 AM
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We used to ride on the native reserve near my home town, and it was off-leash dog central!

My advice is - if you have time to evaluate and consider a dog's mood and intentions, you probably have time to get your water bottle out and give the pupper a squirt in the face with some dihydrogen-monoxide if it gets too close. The dog will stop in his tracks regardless of its intentions before he got a snoot full of cold water.
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Old 08-30-19, 12:02 PM
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I have a pretty well-tuned dog interpreter function-- I can tell right quick what a dog's intention is when it starts running after me. Some are just in it for the chase, One out of maybe 50 has a genuine desire-- a recent one was definitely serious, because he didn't even bark, just came out of the driveway full tilt. But he was a novice, and didn't know how to cover the distance and plan the angle at the same time-- they don't lead a target very well, so most dogs are running toward where I am, not where I'm going to be. So by the time he got up to speed, I already had a ~50 foot lead on him. Had he been more experienced, he would have gotten some eye sockets full of Glacier Cherry Gatorade. I've only had a dog get close enough to get the water bottle once.

I think the problem here in suburbia is self sorting. I ride the same routes many, many times, and don't think I've ever been chased by the same dog more than twice. They either figure not to bother, their owners manage to lock 'em up, or they try the same tactic with a car and it doesn't end well.
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Old 08-30-19, 12:08 PM
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Ditto the responses on dogs smiling; they don't smile. That's an example of humans projecting their behaviors onto animals.

Ditto too the responses about interpreting dogs' behaviors. With repeated interactions, I develop knowledge of whether a particular dog is benign or vicious; on a first meeting, though, I wouldn't bet my physical well-being on my interpretation of a dog's intentions.

I ride a lot in Amish country, and some of them let their dogs roam free...And they generally don't vaccinate their dogs. Hence, a random dog bite could entail significant risks. If I can't outsprint a questionable dog, I just avoid it altogether.
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Old 08-30-19, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Ditto the responses on dogs smiling; they don't smile. That's an example of humans projecting their behaviors onto animals.
I don't care what you say. My dog smiles.
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Old 08-30-19, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by HarborBandS View Post
I don't care what you say. My dog smiles.
So does mine. Oh, um, wait...
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Old 08-30-19, 01:21 PM
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I think you can read dog behavior up to a point. Growling and teeth showing are alert signals for me, mere barking is not.
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Old 08-30-19, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Twain: “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
I heard it attributed to Groucho Marx. Either way, wisdom.
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Old 08-30-19, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by dagray View Post
So the other day I took my mountain bike out for a seven mile ride and encountered a couple dogs that came out to "greet" me.
On my long western Indiana rides, I get chased pretty much every time at some point. But similar to this, I rolled into the tiny burg of Radnor and a big German Shepard trotted up to me, got a bit ahead and proceeded to give me a guided tour of the entire place...
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Old 08-30-19, 02:37 PM
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A couple thoughts... just because a dog is wagging his tail doesn’t mean he won’t bite you, it just means he’s happy. He may be happy to bite you.
I have pepper sprayed more dogs than I can count (and a few humans). It works, it you have to practice once or twice, and be aware of where the relative wind is coming from.
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Old 08-30-19, 03:14 PM
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Wonder if Iohan Gueorguiev would have an opinion on reading a dogs true nature just by looking at it. That guy is a "dog whisperer"
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Old 08-30-19, 04:40 PM
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I used to be scared of all loose dogs.

Then, I got a very large dog and learned about how dogs work. Now, I'm just scared of most loose dogs.
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Old 08-30-19, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by HarborBandS View Post
I don't care what you say. My dog smiles.
Are you sure you're looking at his face, and not under his tail?
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Old 08-30-19, 05:45 PM
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It happens so fast. Here's how I read a dog: If the dog is charging you at full speed you are in for it. Anything else you may be in the clear but don't stick around too long.
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Old 08-30-19, 05:55 PM
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If this isn’t a dog smiling, I don’t know what is...then again, my dogs are never off leash unless in the backyard, and even then, they’re supervised, to include all bathroom breaks (yep, even at 5 am). Hate on the owners of wayward dogs, not the dogs!




Last edited by Lab4Us; 09-15-19 at 04:12 PM. Reason: Because I really do know proper grammar =)
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Old 08-30-19, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dagray View Post
Try to learn to read dog behavior so that you don't get bit especially if you are riding rural roads.
One time I tried this. Saw a friendly medium-sized dog that wanted to run with me. I figured I'd stop and give him a pet, he was smiling and happy while I slowed down and unclipped my opposite foot. When I unclipped my foot facing him the noise startled him and he bit my ankle.

I don't do this anymore. Dogs don't have predictable behavior patterns in such a way that a cyclist can always safely make a positive assumption by observation. I treat every dog like it's looking for a bite and act accordingly. Tangentially, last weekend was the first time a pair of dogs spotted me riding, perked up and proceeded to charge away from me down the road. If anyone knows how to cultivate this behavior, please post. Here they are running ahead of me down the road barking away like mad

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Old 08-30-19, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Tangentially, last weekend was the first time a pair of dogs spotted me riding, perked up and proceeded to charge away from me down the road. If anyone knows how to cultivate this behavior, please post. Here they are running ahead of me down the road barking away like mad
There is a small brown dog on Tibbits Rd near Braswell Mountain Rd which is scared of Industry 9 hubs.

It is a smallish dog which came up behind me and I let off the pedals when its head was right next to my hub. The sudden BZZZZZ scared the crud out of it. Now all I have to do is backpedal and it runs to the porch.

Do you know Alan Pilling? He is an older British guy, rides out of Sosebee. His wife is Janet. Super nice people. Alan had his leg mauled by a pit bull up in Bartow County a few weeks ago.


-Tim-

Last edited by TimothyH; 08-30-19 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 08-30-19, 08:43 PM
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My e-tandem weighs circa 45kgs, most of the weight is well out back and very low down. It has big tyres, big rims, big suspension, big power, big everything - and it smashes it's way up a small flight of stairs, or a hefty bush, in it's stride.

If i hit a dog, it's curtains for the dog.

I only ever ride on what you guys call MUP's, and i encounter dogs on every journey. I have to read them and work with them. And i can't tell you how varied they are. Nothing is more unpredictable than a dog as a result. Some are on leads, some aren't, they have widely differing attitudes and agendas.

Some people say dogs are stupid. Not as much as their owners though, who don't seem to realise that cyclists have more experience with different types of dog behaviour than they do, that hazards go way beyond friendly/not-friendly, or that it'd be a good idea to walk on the same side of the MUP as a dog on a lead...
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Old 08-30-19, 10:08 PM
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If a dog gets near me, I stop the bike and place it between me and the dog assailant. If there is an owner I let them know in no uncertain terms I am not interested in making friends with their pitbull or Muffy the picadoo. If it continues to approach, it could get ugly. Four broken bones and a resulting stroke has significantly adjusted my attitude toward dogs and their irresponsible owners. I will not be a victim. Attempting to outrun or out maneuver a dog is a foolish thing and is just a good way to get yourself hurt, if not the first time, eventually.
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