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What Should I Do If I Encounter a Dog While Running?

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Updated August 14, 2013

Question: What Should I Do If I Encounter a Dog While Running?
Answer: Most runners have at least one story about a scary or overly-friendly dog they met on a run. Dogs can be very territorial and their prey instinct is triggered by fast movement, so runners can catch their attention. Even when a dog seems friendly, if the owner isn't around, it's best not to approach it.

Follow these tips for how to handle dogs and avoid problems with them while you're running:

  • Don't make eye contact with the dog. If it sees you staring at it, it might see that as a threat.

  • Stop running, turn and walk in the opposite direction or across the street. You won’t seem as interesting to the dog if you're walking. Also, the dog won't think you're trying to invade his territory if you're heading in the opposite direction. Don't turn around and look back.

  • If the dog approaches you, stop and stand very still. Don't yell or make any sudden movements. In a firm, but calm voice, say, "Go home," "Sit" or "No".

  • If the dog tries to jump on you, turn to the side and push it off with your forearm.

  • If you keep encountering the same aggressive dog, find a new running route. You can also file a report with your local animal control.
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