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/map updates and corrections 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’ Hamelman, 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.



Joe Petroni January 19, 2017, 4:49 AM

I either pet that sh1t or kick that sh1t

chandi miller November 24, 2016, 9:40 PM

Loud firecrackers work wonders to deter dogs!!! A box is only $2. Can carry them as they are or dip them in a warm beeswax to protect them from moisture. Some of us put three together and dip in beeswax, and some just use the single firecrackers. To activate them just throw me directly down on the ground with a little force and dogs go running!

Mike Howard November 7, 2016, 3:42 PM

Pepper Spray works, keep a small clip type unit on your waist pocket or handlebar. They go from "Woof" to "meeeeow..." fast, especially if your aim is good.

kat holoch November 1, 2016, 10:53 PM

Think it is called an airzhound. I got one on amazon. very loud and obnoxious. really works.

James October 24, 2016, 9:59 AM

One time in Florida a puppy was in the road trying to stop oncoming traffic, because it was super hot and the swamp water was probably not very hydrating. I got righteous because I thought it belonged to the house next to me. People who mistreat dogs are losers. So I gave the dog some water and some premium trail mix and then proceeded to knock on the door. Turns out it was a stray, but the dude inside took the dog in and said he would take care of it. Best thing that happened to me on 4000 miles of Southern Tier.

Seriously? October 29, 2016, 5:01 PM

Did you even read this? You're a hero!!! Said no one ever...

James October 24, 2016, 10:03 AM

Another time there were two ugly dogs that appeared up ahead so I rode at them, jumped off my bike, and then ran at them like a crazy person. They didn't want none of what I was ready to hand out.

Ted Moreland October 20, 2016, 3:46 PM

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

Jim & Karen Hertlein October 20, 2016, 5:45 AM

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!

ronald July 6, 2017, 6:12 AM

Dear Jim and Karen

Great to hear an airhorn does the job very well. We live in Holland so not sure if they sell an airhorn which you can refill with a bike pump. Would be great if you can send me some info or url's?

Jamesw2 January 24, 2013, 5:38 PM

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

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