Dogs on the Trails

Afraid of dogs? Don’t panic!

Sometimes dogs can be annoying for hikers. Knowing their motives helps to deal with them. Most people have a dog as an alarm system to secure their house or property. If you come too close to a dog owner’s property it’s their primary job to give alarm and try to keep you away. Some dogs are more enthusiastic than others and do not know that the road is public property.

The best strategy is to keep on hiking and don’t pay attention to the dog – don’t look directly at the dog – just look ahead or even at the sky and keep on walking. Try to not pay any attention to them. As soon as you pass the owners property, the dog will lose interest in you.

When a dog seems more aggressive towards you, you have 3 options:

  • Find a stick.The longer and thicker the better but you should be able to swing it easily. Impress the attacker by holding the stick up or swinging it.
  • Find a stone. If there are no sticks around look for a stone. The bigger the better but you should be able to pick it up with one hand and throw it easily. Pretend to throw it or if necessary actually do it.
  • Pretend to pick up a stone. If there are neither sticks nor stones around pretend to pick up a stone. Obviously you can only pretend to throw it but it often helps as well.

If there are more dogs always focus on the biggest one. Usually it’s the leader and if this one withdraws the others will do the same.

If you think you can’t make your way through you can either call for the owner, take a detour or retreat. However do not turn and run away. This would likely encourage the dog to chase you. Go back slowly step by step with confidence but do not look the dog into the eyes.


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