There was an unfortunate situation recently (November 2023) which saw a jogger being chased by a group of stray dogs. I can completely appreciate how terrifying this would be for some people. However, it triggered a social media s#$t storm which had people showing a real ugly side of themselves, not only displaying an extreme lack of empathy to both jogger and dogs, but also highlighting a real lacking in basic knowledge in canine behaviour.
It’s unfortunate as the reduction of wild places for these dogs to live in peace, as their homes are urbanized, they are forced to live in more urban areas and move away from construction sites. They are relocated from place to place at no fault of their own. And when they behave in the way dogs do, they are demonised.
Dogs are the most common domestic animal in the world and of course due to mistakes and irresponsible ownership, with that comes strays and eventually a population of street dogs.
As humans, it’s our place to learn about their behaviour and act accordingly, rather than be surprised when a dog acts like a dog.
Having been chased both while running and cycling, I can say that I have never been hurt by them. I’ve also been approached while walking my dogs, again we were absolutely fine.
In the hope of helping people understand more and have the ability to keep themselves safe, here is some advice if they come across a situation like this.
WHEN CONFRONTED OR CHASED BY A GROUP OF STRAY DOGS
It is very important to remain calm and follow these steps:
1. Do Not Run: Running can trigger a dog’s chase instinct. Stay still and calm, avoid making direct eye contact, which dogs can perceive as threatening. Avert your gaze to the ground beside the lead dog, using your peripheral vision to monitor their movements.
2. Stand Sideways: Position your body sideways to the dogs, making yourself less threatening. Keep your hands at your sides and avoid sudden movements.
3. Back Away Slowly: If the situation seems to be under control, slowly back away without turning your back to the dogs until you are at a safe distance. This will normally be when you get out of their territory.
IF THINGS DO NOT SEEM UNDER CONTROL
1. Make Yourself Big: If the dogs continue to approach, try to make yourself appear larger by standing up straight and lifting your arms slowly (but don't wave them).
2. Use a Firm Voice: With a deep, firm voice, tell the dogs to “Go away” or say “No.” This can sometimes create enough doubt in the dogs and discourage them from approaching.
3. Distract Them: If you have anything you can safely throw to distract the dogs (like a water bottle or a bag), use it to divert their attention while you retreat. Do not throw it at them, try to get it to their side and behind them. This can break the predatory chain and snap them out of the advance.
4. Find a Barrier: If possible, put a barrier between you and the dogs, such as a park bench, tree, bike, car or behind a fence.
5. Protect Yourself: If a dog attacks, try to put anything you have between you and the dog (bag, jacket, bicycle). Do not try to fight the dogs. You will not come out well, there are multiple dogs who will work well together to take down a dangerous threat.
6. Seek Higher Ground: If they continue to advance and you are running out of options, if you're near a vehicle or a tree that you can climb, use it to get out of the dogs’ reach.
If you manage to get to a safe place, the dogs will eventually lose interest and leave. Once this happens, calmly walk away out of their territory.
Always remember that dogs never attack for no reason. There is no such thing as a random dog attack. Just because we don’t understand the reason doesn’t make it random, it just means we have to educate ourselves better to coexist.
I really hope this helps.
If anyone has any further questions on canine behaviour, don't hesitate to join us on our live FB sessions where you can ask your questions and get answers immediately live.
Follow our FB page to make sure you don't miss these every Wednesday Evening at 8pm Singapore time.