How to Deal with Dog Encounters

October 20, 2016 - Jennifer Milyko is Adventure Cycling's Routes & Mapping Assistant Director

If you ask a traveling cyclist about their scariest moment on a bike, many of them will respond with a tale of an encounter with a loose dog.

This is a situation cyclists can encounter on roads across the U.S. and around the world. Though we haven’t formally tracked the number of reports we’ve received from each U.S. state, anecdotally, it seems like Kentucky holds the lead in cyclist vs. dog encounters in the U.S.

When I spoke with Kentucky Bicycle Pedestrian Program Coordinator Troy Hearn about the issue, he didn’t shy away. Troy, a long-time cyclist, knows firsthand there are trade offs to riding the great, low-traffic roads of rural Kentucky on routes like our TransAmerica Trail. “Truth is,” he said, “dogs roam free on our country roads.”

Going on numbers alone, Kentucky hosts the second-highest number of miles on the TransAm, so it’s possible the reports are slightly skewed by the vastness of Kentucky’s roads and not just the nature of the communities that rest along them. While we have talked about the possibility of changing our route in Kentucky, it doesn’t look promising. In order to retain the rural aspect of the route, it isn’t likely we’d find another set of roads that would be dramatically different in this respect.

All that being said, what should you do when you see “Rover” on the road ahead of you? There are many tactics you might employ, each with it’s own positives and negatives, several of which are described in these articles: Dealing with Dogs at CrazyGuyOnABike, Dealing with Dogs on A Bike Tour from TravellingTwo, and How to Deal with Aggressive Dogs on Your Ride at Bicycling Magazine.

If you have a particularly scary encounter with a dog on one of our routes, please report it to us with as much information as you can about the location on a map correction card or to @acaroutes on Twitter with the route-specific hashtag. If we can pinpoint problem areas, we can alert future cyclists about these stretches via our online addenda system.

What have you found to be the most effective way to deal with errant dogs while on tour? Please comment below or on Adventure Cycling's Facebook page.

Photos by Jennifer Milyko


GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, Routes & Mapping Assistant Director, and appears once a month, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.



This is typical of Texas older housing developments where a rider would like to train. The video was taken over a one mile stretch of road

January 24, 2013, 5:38 PM
Jim & Karen Hertlein

100% effective is an air horn! We have one on our bike the kind that you can refill with your bike pump! It pumps up to 80 lbs and can be used several times before refilling, depending on how hard you hit the button. This horn has been used traveling across American and has never let us down with dogs chasing us! All kinds of dogs have been turned around with the sound of the blast! They look confused and are not sure where this loud sound is coming from and stop immediately!! We have some great stories of dogs turning tail with the horn! We also could take a picture of it and send it to you!

The horn also has helped with people walking with ear buds on; cars backing up into us; cars passing too close; and more!

October 20, 2016, 5:45 AM
Ted Moreland

Do you have a brand name for that horn and info on where it is available?

October 20, 2016, 3:46 PM
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