Runners How To Avoid A Dog Bite

It’s going to happen.

Each day, about 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency treatment for a dog bite injury according to

If you run long enough its going to happen, there is going to come a day where you are on the wrong end of an aggressive dog.  What you do can determine whether you and the dog walk away unharmed.


Borrowed from The Humane Society of America.

Pay attention to the dog’s body language

Put a safe amount of space between yourself and a dog if you see the following signals, that the dog is uncomfortable and might feel the need to bite:

  • tensed body
  • stiff tail
  • pulled back head and/or ears
  • furrowed brow
  • eyes rolled so the whites are visible
  • yawning
  • flicking tongue
  • intense stare
  • backing away

When putting space between yourself and a dog who might bite, never turn your back on the dog and run away.  A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase and catch you.

What to do if you think a dog may attack

If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:

  • Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
  • Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
  • If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, water bottle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around.

What to do if you’re bitten by a dog

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic.

  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  • Contact your physician for additional care and advice.
  • Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including his owner’s name and the address where he lives. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw him, whether you’ve seen him before, and in which direction he went.

ASPCA article on Dogs Chasing Runners

Please, Be careful out there.  Be responsible, approach dog owners who are out walking their dogs with respect and at a distance that does not startle the dog.  Be aware if there are lose dogs in your neighborhood, avoid that area if you can, but if approached remain calm and remember the The Humane Society of America guides for avoiding a bite.

8 thoughts on “Runners How To Avoid A Dog Bite

  1. SKORA Running

    I’ve had a dog bite my shorts once while running, but the worst encounter I had was on the bike. Two dogs started running towards our group, so we slowed dramatically. Luckily too, because they did not give up on playing chicken and one of them kind of skimmed right across my front wheel. Luckily no one was hurt!

  2. alaskanjackson

    MY experience is standing still never helps. Facing the dog and making yourself loud and big does, this will generally keep them off. I carry my keys and rock or two in my spare hat. I have used this three times in the past year or so to hit the dogs as they have come at me. If you can time it a well placed kick will send them packing as well. I have been attacked by dogs while running everywhere I’ve lived. If you know there are dogs off leash, protect yourself. *The last attack was a neighbors dog who crossed a street around moving cars and bit me on the rear end, this was 1/4 mile from my home. Neighbor purchased us a nice dinner for that one.

    1. Brian Burk

      WOW, I like you have used alternative tactics to keep them away…

      Keep safe and thanks for sharing…


  3. Beauty in Christ

    Thankfully I’ve never had a dog attack me. I always praise God that the dogs I’ve encountered have always been all bark and no bite, except for one and thankfully my aunt was there to protect us. He didn’t bite any of us, but he came close.

  4. Cameron Mathies

    I probably should have got into oncoming traffic (when the lane was clear) verses, running right next to the dog and getting bit.


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