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Attacked by a dog. Could I have done anything differently?

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Attacked by a dog. Could I have done anything differently?

Old 10-04-13, 05:01 AM
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speedwobbles
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Attacked by a dog. Could I have done anything differently?

Long story short: I got attacked by a dog yesterday and now I'm trying to make sense of it before I develop an incurable phobia of all dogs.

Yesterday morning my friend and I headed up to Albertville to try and ride Stage 11 of the 2012 Tour de France. It was a pretty rough day from the start and my friend dropped me quickly on he first climb. After regrouping and descending I told him that he didn't need to wait after the other climbs. Anyway, about 9 km into the Col du Glandon I heard a loud barking and a big dog was running towards me. I was probably only going about 9-10 km/h because it was a pretty steep part and I started to angle towards the middle of the road thinking that the dog was maybe just protective of the driveway. I knew I shouldn't (and certainly couldn't) out-sprint the dog to get away and it seemed to slow down as it got close to me, running along side for a bit. I tried to keep my calm and not **** myself as I maintained my speed and line to not alarm the dog (which was on my right) as I passed the farm driveway.

I passed the driveway and thought I was in the clear when all of a sudden the dog started barking like crazy and I felt teeth dig into my left leg, just below the knee, apparently a second dog had either snuck around behind me or had been unnoticed on the left (there was only barking from the right when I came up). It then bit again, much harder this time around my left ankle. By this point I wasn't moving any more and a few seconds later the dogs had retreated a bit and a car had come around the corner (I don't know if this caused the retreat).

The driver stopped when I flagged them down and I told them I'd just been attacked by dogs. I was definitely bleeding enough to know that the ride was finished so I asked where a clinic/hospital was and they offered to drive to the hospital about 15 km away. The first thing the driver said to me was "you aren't the first one to get bitten by those dogs, I think just a few weeks ago a hiker was attacked". On the way down I texted my friend to let him know I was on my way to the hospital and to not wait for me. Since it wasn't ski season, the hospital wasn't too busy and I was able to see a doctor easily. Thankfully the bites weren't deep and they cut away some of the damaged skin/ cleaned up the bites before giving me a prescription for antibiotics.

By this point I was pretty pissed off that two dogs had run out onto a main public road (it's not like I'd gone down some side-lane with "beware of dog" signs) and was thinking of what could have happened if no car had arrived. It definitely could have ended a lot worse, so I wanted to at least report it to the police. So I went to the police station to file a complaint, which was a pretty tedious process (my French is pretty good, but I realized I have no vocabulary to cover a dog attack). While I was at the station, my friend called saying he's just received my text because there was no signal at the top of the col. His first words were "holy ****, the same thing happened to me". Same situation, except in his case the first bite wasn't very strong and the dog didn't bite again, so he was able to make it to the top of the col and the descend into Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne.

It all seems to me like those dogs are a big threat to public safety if three of the three people I spoke to on that road were bitten/aware of others being bitten, so I really hope that my complaint goes somewhere.

Aside for just needing to rant a bit, there was a point to this post. Can someone who knows a lot more about dog behaviour explain why the hell I was attacked on the road and if I shoul have done anything differently?

BTW-Here's a photo of one of the dogs I took from the car. The driver said "Patou", which I think is a Great Pyrenees in English, but I basically know nothing about dog vocabulary.
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Old 10-04-13, 05:10 AM
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very sorry to hear you were bitten by a dog. I'm not certain about the dogs that attacked you but I've been told by professional dog handlers (Police K-9) to stop moving when a dog charges at you. Stand still and and pull your hands in. I've been riding a few time when I've been charged at by a dog. I simply stopped quickly, stepped off the opposite side of the bike and kept it between the dog and me. On all the occasions, the dog owners were close by and apologized profusely for the incident. The other way to go would be pepper spray. That works really well also.
Hope that helps and I hope you heal quickly.
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Old 10-04-13, 05:22 AM
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I'm sorry to hear about your injury, dog bites can be nasty wounds with large chance for infection if not treated (just slightly behind human bites ... no joke). You mention filing a police report, what did the police say? Is there an animal control services or similar in France? You have a picture of the dog, and there are other reports of attacks (e.g your friend and the driver's story), plus your injury, it seems enough to warrant some sort of visit from the appropriate authorities. I would follow up to ensure some sort of results. Good luck, and keep us updated!
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Old 10-04-13, 05:26 AM
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Wow, other than a few nips, I can't imagine actually being bit by a dog while on my bike. I think I'd likely end up raging mad and do something I shouldn't.
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Old 10-04-13, 05:31 AM
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Wow
Odd that the owner lets big purebreds like that run loose?
It looks like an expensive dog-
I wonder if it is a "farm dog"
Not sure there was much you could do-
did the cops seem familiar with these dogs?
Can't imagine they would be unaware of the situation?
Is it possible the owner is a local politician-??
Big dogs can do plenty of damage
Nothing you could do differently-
this would be one situation where bear spray might have come in handy-
usually with dog menacings you are best just to pedal on- control bike-ignore mutts-
you did that-didn't work-these dogs aggressively protect that area-you sure as heck aren't the first-cops have gotten other reports-
maybe locals KNOW the dogs-avoid the area-so just tourists get attacked complain
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Old 10-04-13, 06:02 AM
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Mvcrash - Yeah, I get the feeling that I should have stopped, but the dog seemed much more aggressive from the get-go. I have been approached by similar dogs guarding flocks of sheep while hiking. They've just sauntered over while barking and then realized I'm not a wolf before leaving me alone.

phoebeisis - The cop was not really familiar with the area because I went to the police in the town that had the hospital. I'm not sure if the town I was in even had a police station. In any case, after coming out of the hospital I just went to the nearest station.

MingusDew - I've submitted an official complaint to the police service and on Monday I have an appointment with the hospital. They will apparently give me a form that I give to the police in order to oblige the dog owner to have the dog checked by a vet. I've also got GPS data showing exactly where I was, photos of the dogs/the bites and a letter from the hospital attesting that I went there for treatment/the level of the bites. With at least a week off the bike I've got lots of time to try and see this through.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:05 AM
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I think what MVcrash said is more likely a better solution.
Some dogs are more into the chase, & it sort of puts them into "the seek & destroy" mode.
Sometimes standing your ground works, but with overly aggressive dogs its not always the answer.
I'm quite surprised to find out it was a Great Pyrenees, they are search & reduce dogs, not guard/attack dogs. That's very strange behavior out of this breed.
Again I don't know how the dog was raised, or how the owner treats them.
Sounds like they reacted on nerves since its sounds like you didn't make eye contact. Eye contact can be perceived as a threat, or a challenge to some dogs.

On the other hand, these could be stray dogs, their tactics sound like pack mentality. One dogs keeps your attention, while another attacks. The attacking dog definitely knew to go for the back of your heel to immobilised you, or drive you away from their territory.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:07 AM
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Yep, the above advice about stopping the only sure cure for the problem. When you see the dogs, stop, dismount, and walk past with the bike between you and the dog. I know this is an unattractive proposition, but it is the only safe way to handle the situation. You can try pepper spray, spraying them with a water bottle, beating them with a frame mounted pump, amazing acceleration, or shooting them with your trusty 9 mm, but none of those are sure to work. And concentrating on anything but riding is not such a good idea. If you don't have a good head start, and will be passing in close proximity, the walk by is the only sure cure. You have to assume the dog is not truly vicious, only stupidly protective of its territory. Else it wouldn't be off leash.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Ghost Ryder View Post
Eye contact can be perceived as a threat, or a challenge to some dogs.
No, I believe you are wrong. That's horses, not dogs. Dog's need to be stared down. They sense fear a mile away and attack it to reinforce their dominance. You have to let them know you see them are not afraid.

Last edited by rpenmanparker; 10-04-13 at 06:27 AM.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:17 AM
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Dog behave differently in different situations.
Sometimes with their "owners" but the owner is not the alpha, they will exhibit signs of aggressiveness more so in a protective manner. Same deal with property, property the see as their territory make them feel the need to be "on guard".

Also most dogs are aggressive to other dogs, not so much with people other than the mailman.
Were you wearing a matching kit?

I don't think these dogs were vicious but they most definitely show signs of aggression.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:17 AM
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If you see the dog coming, and have time - then getting off the bike, facing the dog while holding the bike in front of you as a shield can work. Dogs are hard wired to chase things that are running.

Keep facing the dog - back away slowly. They may lose interest once they feel that they have driven you far enough away from home.

It's harder to deal with a pack as they always circle and try to nip from behind, but one or two may be manageable this way.

---

Off topic I know - but I'm doing the Tour d'Afrique next year. Reading advice about wild animal encounters - if an elephant gets pissed off with you it will flap its ears - the recommendation is to immediately jump on you bike and ride away as fast as you can - I like that plan. With a lion however you must never, ever, ever run - you have to do the dog thing and face up to them. I don't know if I could manage this. Not overly concerned tbh - the most dangerous animals are the mosquitoes, and even worse than them is the traffic.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:25 AM
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There are several large white Livestock Guardian Dogs that look similar. The Great Pyrenees is the first we think of, and like somebody said, they are only interested in threats to their wards, usually sheep. My friend breeds and raises these on her sheep farm and they should be friendly towards people passing by. There are a few more primitive breeds that I heard can be more aggressive when not raised properly, like the Akbash and Kuvasz. But since you are in France, my first guess at breed would also be a Great Pyrenees. Of course, any dog can be aggressive when not properly socialized.

I have herding dogs. The pointy eared shepherd-types. With my type of dog the best thing is to stop immediately. They just want to catch whatever is moving fast, it's prey drive for them. My Belgian Malinois bit at the tire of a bike when she caught up with it and gave it a flat. (She was a few months old and only had the one chance.) http://clgoetz.8m.com/boaz/boaz/

These big white dogs shouldn't have a prey drive. But since they bit hikers also, it sounds like there is nothing you could have done in your situation. I hope the police can do something about them. Laws in Europe seem to be a lot more strict about these things then here in the States.

http://www.lgd.org/
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Old 10-04-13, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
No, I believe you are wrong. That's horses, not dogs. Dog's need to be stared down. They sense a mile away and attack it to reinforce their dominance. You have to let them know you see them are not afraid.
Its not the eye contact that enforces the dominance its standing your ground. If you look at submissive dogs, they avoid any eye contact, & lay on their backs to submit.

Eye contact is almost always viewed as a threat in any animal,mammal,etc.

Horses are a bad example, they are very skittish in nature, & usally counter attack in self defence.
Sometimes dogs will initiate an attack, or attack in self defence
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Old 10-04-13, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Ghost Ryder View Post
Its not the eye contact that enforces the dominance its standing your ground. If you look at submissive dogs, they avoid any eye contact, & lay on their backs to submit.

Eye contact is almost always viewed as a threat in any animal,mammal,etc.

Horses are a bad example, they are very skittish in nature, & usally counter attack in self defence.
Sometimes dogs will initiate an attack, or attack in self defence
No, horses are a good example, because they are the main species identified with the negative behavior in response to eye contact, and that was the subject of the comment I was responding to. You are not going to profit from looking away from a dog!
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Old 10-04-13, 06:30 AM
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About the attack on the hiker:
Its most likely they tried to run like most would do.
Never run, or scream from/@ a dog.

I have herders too.
Some go as far as chasing down tractor to bite the tires.
My guy thinks every cyclist is me so he always has to see if its me. He won't chase you down, just look, & sniff.
All his herding instinct are released with a Frisbee, or a few balls.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
No, horses are a good example, because they are the main species identified with the negative behavior in response to eye contact, and that was the subject of the comment I was responding to. You are not going to profit from looking away from a dog!
But I know I'd never have to worry about a horse jumping out of a farm chasing me down, & attacking me.
The horse would flee the sight of the scene, or just ignore it all together. I don't know when I'd have a chance to get eye contact on a horse other than in a stable.
If on a bike, I'm sure the horse would drop me in a second, there's no way I'm going to be able to wheel suck on a horse.
I'm not "41er" worthy.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:38 AM
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Man I am sorry to hear that. What is the owner's liability there in France? In the US the owner would be cited; the dogs taken in to make sure they don't have rabies; and the owner would be responsible for your medical bills.

Dogs by nature are pack animals so I am not surprised by the other dog getting involved. If you ever notice when you see dogs from a distance that are chasers they size you up in terms of speed and how or what line they need to take to intercept you. Comes from hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and instinct when hunting. Can't blame a dog for being a dog............the OWNER is the Jackwagon who should maintain their pets. So to give advice on "What could I have done different?" Not sure if anything given your in a climb and vulnerable to not being able to accelerate and blast out of there. I have found on flats when they size you up you have one of two things to do................sprint like a mad man and drop them or time your cadence to their intercept and then either brake hard then get back on it or all out sprint to make them miss you. No doubt about it we are vulnerable to dogs on bikes. And not just vicious dogs but those who like to chase.

Hope you did not suffer real bad injuries. I skipped over all the post after yours to comment.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:39 AM
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It's a bit of a general question that has too many factors (i.e. the dog).

Anecdotally I've had many, many dogs come rushing out and then peel off, sort of like the moves jet fighters make when bluffing an enemy. This is in suburban and urban areas. I am guessing that these dogs are a bit more controlled, scolded when they play rough, etc, so they aren't quite as "wild".

However, one time, in a pretty rural area (no official townships nearby, state police has one officer for 100 miles of highway plus the counties next to those 100 miles - 911 said that it might take 3-4 hours for the officer to show up, pending other incidents), two dogs ran up to me and bit me, each of them. The dogs were border collies and were allowed to herd cows and such (not that the farm needed their help, but the dogs have the instinct apparently). They thought I was a slow cow I guess. They came running at me, barked just a bit but nothing like growling, and then bit me, one bite from each dog. However the owners' homeowner's insurance company told them they had to put the dogs down else they'll lose their insurance, and that's what they did. The wife, who was the one that actually likes the dogs, had gotten bitten by both dogs previously so it wasn't the first time they bit someone.

The black dog has already bitten me. The two tone dog is about to bite me. I'm going about 6-8 mph on a steep hill so similar to the OP's situation.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:41 AM
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Eye contact with an aggressive dog will get you attacked. Look down and angle your body to not directly face it. Friendly dogs do not approach another dog directly on, they do an arch approach.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Yep, the above advice about stopping the only sure cure for the problem. When you see the dogs, stop, dismount, and walk past with the bike between you and the dog. I know this is an unattractive proposition, but it is the only safe way to handle the situation. You can try pepper spray, spraying them with a water bottle, beating them with a frame mounted pump, amazing acceleration, or shooting them with your trusty 9 mm, but none of those are sure to work. And concentrating on anything but riding is not such a good idea. If you don't have a good head start, and will be passing in close proximity, the walk by is the only sure cure. You have to assume the dog is not truly vicious, only stupidly protective of its territory. Else it wouldn't be off leash.
Some great advice. In here the NC mountains in the deep woods when mtn biking we can encounter black bear and if they have cubs you better be ready for an all out battle! But if alone they tell you to dismount and pick up your bike as a shield and yell and act like a nut to get the bear to go along. But like I said if you get between a mother bear and cubs you better be ready for injury! I carry a 12" K-Bar when mtn biking in case I have to pull a Rambo. I rather yell and run them off but if push comes to shove something is getting 9" of cold steel in their gut!

But that advice above is about the best you can do because on the bike you are like a deer or similar animal to them and instinct takes over.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by cg_bstone View Post
Eye contact with an aggressive dog will get you attacked. Look down and angle your body to not directly face it. Friendly dogs do not approach another dog directly on, they do an arch approach.
That may be so, but I am not taking my eyes off any unrestricted dog that I am riding by. That would be really stupid.
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Old 10-04-13, 06:51 AM
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Herders like border collies aren't biters, its more a nip to put their "object" in place.
I have an Aussie Shepard very similar in size, & temperament to a border collie. He doesn't have a strong drive to herd, so I don't have to worry about him nipping. He's more of a "poker/pusher" he'll push you with his nose, or poke me with his paws to get my attention.

But there's plenty of other herders that exhibit very strong herding instincts, traits line bred in for working dogs.
Does this make it ok for them to nip, not @ all.
Its all on the owner to be responsible. They are after all the "handler".
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Old 10-04-13, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
That may be so, but I am not taking my eyes off any unrestricted dog that I am riding by. That would be really stupid.
Its not about avoiding eye contact.
Once its been initiated, just stand your ground.
Backing off or running will show sign of weakness, this is dangerous when theres more than one dog. You can't always keep your eyes on both/the pack.
Single out the alpha male/female, stand your ground, & don't lose sight of them. Dogs follow their leaders.
The lower ranked dogs will only back up the alpha, they don't usually initiate the attack.

If you don't seem intimidated, the dog/pack will usually head back to their territory. Once they back down/off be on your way slowly, confidently, & calmly.
As long as you don't encroach they won't have a need to attack.
If you run they will chase you down, & hand down the "pack punishment".
Dogs have an uncanny sense of fear, & feed off it to remain dominant. Especially when theres more than 1.

Last edited by Ghost Ryder; 10-04-13 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 10-04-13, 07:09 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Cyclelogikal View Post
Some great advice. In here the NC mountains in the deep woods when mtn biking we can encounter black bear and if they have cubs you better be ready for an all out battle! But if alone they tell you to dismount and pick up your bike as a shield and yell and act like a nut to get the bear to go along. But like I said if you get between a mother bear and cubs you better be ready for injury! I carry a 12" K-Bar when mtn biking in case I have to pull a Rambo. I rather yell and run them off but if push comes to shove something is getting 9" of cold steel in their gut!

But that advice above is about the best you can do because on the bike you are like a deer or similar animal to them and instinct takes over.
If you are worried about bears, a far more logical and rational approach would be to carry bear spray. It weighs less, and is by far a much more effective tool in dealing with bears. I'd even recommend bear spray over .44 magnum for most people, simply because it is a lot easier to hit a bear with the spray than a pistol in a high-stress situation. ... plus I can guarantee the bear will kill you even if you manage to stab it. It won't die instantly, and will have plenty of time to maul you even if you manage a fatal blow in one strike (good luck with that ).

However, if carrying a bike knife makes you feel prepared for all situations, then by all means continue to do so ... they do have other uses than stabbing large predators that are several times your own weight

Bear spray is maybe even a good tool for dealing with dogs, but I doubt I'd want to carry it on my bike rides unless I notice loose dogs are a problem in my area. I don't have any experience with dogs, so I'll just head the warnings given here, dismount, place the bike between me and menacing dog, and creep by. ... or if I'm riding with a friend who is slower, maybe I'll just pedal faster than him
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Old 10-04-13, 07:13 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
That may be so, but I am not taking my eyes off any unrestricted dog that I am riding by. That would be really stupid.

Usss humansss do have a certain amount of peripheral vision. YES WE CAN! look down, past the dog, one yard to the left, or right, while still keeping the dog in sight.



@ OP: There are crazy people, and there are crazy animals. No sense in making a general fear because of one crazy dog.

Besides, dogs do sense fear. If you're scared, they are more likely to "get on top of you". Several posters mentioned looking down, not looking at the BEAST ARRR That's good advice. Head tucked in, a bit down, sholders up, back straight, hands by your sides. That says to the dog you respect him as an alpha, and boss of the area, but will defend yourself and are not scared.

Have the dog in your sight, but don't look at the eyes directly. Don't block it's path, standing directly facing it, in it's way.

Dismounting and walking can work often, though sometimes it's better to just RUN! Depending on the number of dogs, situation etc.


Bending down and pretending to lift a rock from the ground works very often where I live, since people do throw rocks at dogs.


If you often come across the same dog giving you problems, a piece of bacon goes a long way. Really.
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