Dogs: I just completed week 6 today but had to... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
105,912 members136,849 posts



I just completed week 6 today but had to stop 3 times because of dogs. When a dog barks and runs toward me aggressively I feel I have to stop and wait until the owner shouts to ask the dog not to attack. The dog is instinctively protecting its owner when it sees someone running in their direction but I’m running very slowly and should not be seen as a threat. Is it because I’m wearing sunglasses? Should I remove them when I see a dog? Should I look at or away from the dog? I also feel more vulnerable to a dog attack when running because I’m wearing shorts. I spent the whole run thinking about the various outcomes of a dog attack. I run along a riverside walk and passed about a dozen dogs today when I ran at 5pm. Most were no problem but 2 dogs forced me to stop, one dog twice. If I’d stopped to discuss it with the owner it would have ruined my run.

7 Replies

I love dogs.......... I despair at some owners.

I always talk calmly and firmly to dogs who are interested in me when out running and usually put a hand out unthreateningly in their direction..... that normally works. If they are going to bite, then it will be your arm they go for, rather than other parts of your anatomy. Do not raise your arms, do not let your voice become shrill and remain confident. Most dogs just want to join in with the running, but they can be intimidating, especially if you are not familiar with dogs.

One owner dumbfounded me by saying that I should stop running when I see a dog. If they try that one again then I will remind them that I have a legal right to run in public and they have a legal duty to keep their animal under control.

It is a universal problem for runners.


Dogs are a nuisance in parks with their mess left behind, my Parkrun last week had it left in various places, If a dog is prone to attacking then it must be controlled and muzzled, it's the irresponsible owners fault, seems to be getting so many who think they can let their dogs run loose nilly willy without much thought for others!

Dogs and bad owners are the bane of many a runner here and many of us have had similar experiences to you.

I once urged a chasing dog to come and run beside me leaving the owner for dust and shouting for him to return which he ignored. Most of them just want to play and run with us but it's scary sometimes because we don't know the dogs.

A friend of mine did a running course once and one piece of advice was that runners shouldn't wear black because dogs react aggressively to it. Also, don't look them in the eye as they see that as a challenge. If you google there's lots of advice about how to deal with an aggressive dog but don't let it put you off running.

I am a runner and a dog owner. My dog accompanies me when I run so she’s used to runners and doesn’t even acknowledge them even when she’s off the lead. Further, I run in a large open (99% dog poo free) parkland area in the middle of a big city. It is full of dogs, all different shapes and sizes. It’s also full of runners/walkers. I’ve been coming to this area all my life, and have honestly never encountered a rogue dog. Maybe I’m just lucky, or maybe I don’t give off fear signals which dogs can pick up on very easily.

The vast majority of dogs are totally safe and are just curious and want to play. so it’s probably best to ignore them (no eye contact) and carry on your way. With any luck they’ll find you no fun and lose interest. If a dog does look aggressive, and it’s usually easy to spot a threatening dog - pinned back ears, staring eyes, slinking towards you, curled lips and growling, I would probably stop and summon the owner in no uncertain terms. I personally wouldn’t stick a hand out, but maybe I’d pretend to throw a stick or something to distract the dog.

I agree, some owners are idiots and do no favours to us responsible dog owners. It’s a shame they and their dogs are spoiling your running. I hope the ones in question don’t bother you again.

I hope that wasn’t preachy or condescending It wasn’t meant to be! I just love dogs and love running, and I’m fortunate that I can combine the two!


Hey I’m a runner and a dog owner who is a rescue and can get quite nervous so I’m very aware that other dogs can feel like this too

When I see a dog on my runs I slow down and if they come up to me and show interest I normally say hello in a calm voice and hold my hand out so they can see I’m not a threat and get a good smell if they want too

Some dogs will still react badly to this but the important thing is to stay calm and to not panic. If a dog starts showing any sign of aggression then you can very calmly but firmly ask them to sit or give them a command - don’t raise your hands or give off any signs of aggression otherwise they will react badly

There will always be dog owners that are irresponsible and don’t keep dogs on the lead but just slow down and stay calm

in reply to Mashedpotato

I am terrified of dogs and am usually left crying with fear when these nightmare fiends sniff around me barking and yapping. Inevitably the owner grins and says "Oh, don't mind him, he's just being friendly" despite seeing that I am in a total panic. It is terrible that the law does not require these animals to be kept on a lead in all public spaces. Many years ago, my then toddler daughter was left severely traumatised when a dog snatched her beloved soft toy. Again, the owner laughed and said "Oh, he loves to play so much", ignoring my daughter's screams of fear and distress.

Thanks for everyone’s replies. After writing my dogs post I noticed I’m not the first to write about it. Interesting range of advice given, ranging from the helpful and informative to the contradictory and dangerous. I conclude that there is no way of preventing dogs from disrupting my run if I’m unlucky enough to meet one who doesn’t like the look of me or is in a bad mood. I might have to stop, take off my headphones, talk to the dog and owner, maybe repeat the run in a couple of days. On a more positive note, in keeping with this forum, I’ve done another week of running, passing lots of dogs and not had any problems since. Dreading week 8 like I dreaded every week but I’ve got this far so am confident I can finish. Getting slightly concerned that I’ll just go back to the couch after graduating like I’ve done with my non running days after the five weeks of strength and flexibility ended. (Must find another app that works with Spotify)

You may also like...