10 Tips to Staying Safe from Dogs while Running

By: Matt Young

Most of us live in fairly rural parts of West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky where running hills and backroads demand our attention to safety and to be ever vigilant of dogs off of leashes.  Not only that, but if you’re a dedicated runner you probably run in the dark at least part of the year. 

Safety for runners is an important topic and covers a wide array of circumstances.  In the Genesis Running 5k classes I’ve teamed up with Putnam County Deputy Sherriff, Shane Shamblin, to give some tips on runner’s safety.

Shane once led the K9 unit for the department so he’s also an expert on dealing with dogs on the run. I like to run back roads near my house and dealing with dogs (and the occasional angry rooster) are a fact of life.

But before we hit the tips, everyone needs to have a Road ID. It’s about the most important piece of safety equipment you can have and you can get one here: https://RoadID.com/invite/DF9G-TAFPR3M27S7

Staying Safe from Dogs while Running: 

  1. Stop running when a dog starts to chase.  Dogs chase for certain reasons. Prey, drive, and territorial protection are the most common reasons.
  2. NEVER try to outrun a dog. A canine’s stamina and its four legs give them an advantage over you
  3. Avoid eye contact.
  4. Use a high pitched playful voice to talk to the dog.
  5. Slowly make an “escape” from the altercation by backing away.
  6. Never turn your back on the dog.
  7. If the dog continues to be aggressive and an altercation cannot be avoided look for a weapon or an object to get between you and the dog (lawn chair, fence, vehicle, etc).
  8. If the dog initiates a bite, try not to panic and do not attempt to “jerk away” which may cause more damage. Try to get to the dog off its feet by grabbing under the belly and lifting it up. Go for the eyes, testicles, or paws with defense strikes.
  9. Remember that a dog on a leash is not fool proof. Some people do not use leashes correctly and may not be able to control their surging dog. Stop running when approaching a dog on a leash and then continue after passing.
  10. Absolutely avoid any “packs” of dogs. Packs of dogs, like wolf packs, can be extremely lethal and proficient.

A special thanks to Putnam County Sherrif’s Deputy, Shane Shamblin, for his help with these tips.  Be sure to thank your local law enforcement officers for a job well done.

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