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How To Stop a Dog Chasing You While Running

How To Stop a Dog Chasing You While Running – And prevent a Bite!


If you’re reading this post, then you’ve probably just been chased by a dog while running, or worse been bitten by one. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’ve been bitten twice and chased countless times by dogs. Maybe they smell my cats on me but whatever the real reason, it’s very annoying and often scary. By the end of this post, you will have learned the best process for how to stop a dog chasing you while running, and hopefully prevent a bite.

This is why I wanted to share my own personal experiences and how I have come to deal with dogs when they start chasing me while out running.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, it’s just the ones that bite me on the ass that offend me. I often wish I had my own trail dog to run with me, maybe it would ward off the naughty ones? If you have experienced this to be the case, please let me know in the comments below.

Stop a Dog Chasing You While Running - trail dog 2 - trail & kale
A trail-dog like this ought to scare off most other dogs 🙂 hehe

Right then, let’s jump right into it with the most important things you need to know, in order to stop a dog chasing you while running.

Stop a Dog Chasing You While Running - dog biting a dog - trail & kale
Not even dogs are immune to being chased by a “playful” dog 🙂 Photo Credit: Patrice Alsteen from

How to stop a dog chasing you while running

1. Stop running and stay calm

This was my first mistake when I encountered my first angry dog with its utterly clueless owner. I just kept running thinking that the dog would soon give up, not being able to keep up with my 4.30/km splits. I was wrong, instead, the dog got even more confident, thinking I was running away scared, I was a little. After 3 attempts of jumping up at me while I was running, the dog eventually bit me on my ass, my only protection was the inner lycra compression layer of a pair of Salomon S-Lab Exo Twinskin shorts. This layer luckily stopped the dog from penetrating my skin with its teeth. He did leave a nasty mark though!

What I should have done was immediately stop running the moment I detected the dog growling and beginning to make the chase.

Stop a Dog Chasing You While Running - dog running - trail & kale
Sometimes of course, dogs run over just to say hello 🙂

2. Stop the Dog: Shout common commands at the dog

When I was first chased by a dog, I was so surprised that I really didn’t know what to do after being chased. My instinctual reaction after being bitten was to stop and shout at the dog’s owners to do something about their out of control dog. I was so angry that they were so blasé about the whole affair. If I was a horrible person I could have reported their vicious dog to the authorities but knowing it probably wasn’t the dog’s fault, I felt that it would have been an extreme reaction to an unfortunate event. I couldn’t let that dog get in trouble or worse still put-down on behalf of its bad parents.

What I should have done before the chase got going was: stop running and shout common stop words to the dog. For example, shouting “NO!”, “DOWN!”, “BAD DOG!” or even “STOP!” probably would have done the job. The key is to put on your stern voice, if you have any experience in dealing with pets or children then you already know how to channel that voice. If possible, try to avoid eye contact while giving your commands, yes it sounds a bit like a joke, ordering a dog to do something without looking at the dog directly but trust me it will feel less threatened if you do this.

…Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, it’s just the ones that bite me on the ass that offend me.

3. Defend yourself

If for whatever reason steps 1 & 2 don’t work for you, and the dog is in full attack mode, then you need to defend yourself by any means necessary. Hopefully, you won’t need to harm the dog, but if you do, then your safety is the priority so don’t feel too bad for it. Remember, the dog started it, you just need to finish it.

I had another attack by two much bigger dogs once, I think they were Labradoodles. Anyway, it’s a similar story that involves a bad pet owner who did absolutely nothing to try to help me or stop his wrongly unleashed dogs from attacking me. The man shouted out in a laughing tone, “Oh little Rex is just playing, don’t mind him!”. “Excuse me!!? Your dog is gnawing on my wrist! Do something about it!”, I replied. The man did nothing, so I gave the dog a push kick he won’t forget anytime soon. I’m so glad I took that Kickboxing course beforehand :). I felt bad afterwards but this was one of two large dogs, that if left alone would have taken advantage of my weakness and continued to “play” with my already badly bitten wrist. I should mention that the dog was only stunned to the point of it feeling dominated enough to back off, and no lasting harm was given.

So I got this one absolutely right! I’m proud of my reaction but I wish I was better educated at the time so that I knew to stop running and shout the dog down before it even got to the biting stage.

“Oh little Rex is just playing, don’t mind him!”. “Excuse me!!? Your dog is gnawing on my wrist! Do something about it!”

Don’t let this post put you off

This doesn’t happen all the time so please don’t let this post put you off running, instead use it as a prevention tool should you ever find your self in a similar situation, whether you’re running or not. This situation usually only arises when a badly trained (or completely untrained) dog hasn’t is not leashed in a public space.

Stop a Dog Chasing You While Running - trail dog - trail & kale
A well-trained dog unleashed and outdoors with its owner is a beautiful thing to see

Have you been chased by a dog while running?

how to stop a dog chasing you while running - instagram poll

We recently ran a poll on our Instagram Stories – asking whether you chased or bitten by a dog while running. 629 of you responded with 278 saying they have been and 351 people saying they haven’t. That’s 44% who have been chased or bitten and 56% who haven’t. Quite an interesting poll if you ask me!

Care to share some of your own tips?

If you have any other tips on how to stop a dog chasing you, based on your own similar experiences, please drop them in the comments section below, I would love to hear them in case my own tactics ever fail me.

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


  1. Totally great advice. I was a “paper boy” growing up so I’ve dealt with countless dogs trying to get a piece of me. As a runner and cyclist, I’ve used your suggestions many times with great success. Usually the stern command to “go home” or the like is all it takes. On the bike, I’ve also used my water bottle to spray a dog in the face, which is a harmless yet effective deterrent. Thanks for the article!

    • Hey Mark,

      Thank you for your comment!

      Spraying water is a great idea, I hadn’t though of that. Knowing my luck though, it would probably agitate the next excitable dog I meet. haha. I’ll also try the “go home!” command next time too, thank you!

      Best wishes,


  2. You should not really feel bad for a dog if you report it. Yeah, it absolves the dog to blame the owner/”parent”, but it is much better if the dangerous dog is put down. The behavior is already learned and probably won’t change under that owner, I would report the dog and I don’t have to be a horrible person. Even in developed countries a do can easily kill a toddler if it gets too close, and dogs are capable of killing grown men – go look at India or Burma where people are attacked all the time.
    I’ve had large dogs jump up at me even when I was not running, claw through my skin and cut me and try to “play” bite me until I pushed it down and growled at it. The owners obviously did not care. Weird thing, you need a license to own a gun, but not a domesticated wolf that weighs 110 kg..
    Worry about your own safety, not whether you injure the dog.

  3. It is always a mare to run, the dog owners don’t realise how stressful it is for a runner when their dogs start to move towards the runner , ….

    The dog owners should keep theirs dogs on a lead in public places, …. they should get a penalty if they don’t do!

  4. Several years (10+) ago both the wife and I were attacked by a dog and both bitten before the owner decided to get the dog ‘under control’. We ended up in the ER to treat our wounds. Since the attack I never leave for a run without pepper spray. I did not buy the humane strength as recommended by the sales person but rather the full strength. Over the years we have had many more encounters with dogs and have always been able to back them down my talking to them and not have to use my spray. Last weekend we were out on our run and two German shepherds came running down their driveway and across the road where I was. One of the dogs was on me before I could do anything. While trying to keep the dog off my legs there was a moment when the dog had my arm in his mouth. Why he didn’t clamp down on my arm is beyond me…. I had my spray out and gave him a shot. Aim was perfect as I hit him directly in one of his eyes. He immediately yelped and ran to the other side of the road. His partner in crime saw that and I guess he decided he didn’t want any of it and also ran to the other side of the road. Both the wife and I managed to get by and continue on with our run. In the past I always tried to avoid using the spray and would only do it as a last resort. I will not hesitate next time as I waited too long to pull the trigger this time.

    • Thank you for sharing Ken!

      It sounds like you’ve had some serious ordeals! It is certainly frustrating when dog owners fail to take responsibility for their dogs actions. Pepper spray really sounds like a fool proof last resort if things get heated. Thank you for the tip!

      Happy running,


  5. I used a high pitched alarm- i pulled the pin and the noise made the dog run the other way (although he kept barking at me). Also facing the dog and pretending to pick up stones to throw at it seems to make them think twice. Someone also told me they bring doggy treats to distract the dog. . . .

  6. Carry a small handful of gravel in each hand, and throw it hard at a charging dog, while shouting with rage. I’ve stopped many an aggressive dog in this manner, without hurting them.

  7. I have a house I run by that has 2 Pittys that are never leashed so about 2 houses before and after I cross the road and give them plenty of space however several times they have come off the property into the road and attempted to attack, the first time was the worst as I was unprepared and it was mid morning, nobody outside, no owners in sight I yelled commands at them ( I own 3 large goldens and am not afraid of dogs) to no avail, I ended up having to kick one and a car came down the road as I did running the dog back into its yard, since then I have carried Pepper Spray with me. the most recent encounter was yesterday at 3am the dogs were out, alone unchained, unsupervised and they came at me full speed before I even got to their yard, I emptied my small can of spray on them while yelling for them to get back, go home, stop, not a single light came on, nothing from the owners. I have replaced my small can of pepper spray for my backpacking can of Bear Mace that comes out as a fog and is much hotter!

    • Geesh!! That is just NOT what you need on your morning runs! So annoying that their owners take no responsibility at all. Have you thought about reporting them to the correct authorities?

      Did the pepper spray not work then?


  8. I found your post bc I run with my 60 lb german shepherd and for the life of me I can’t figure out how to get the neighborhood dogs to stop chasing us! I actually think it’s my dog that incites the dogs to chase us bc they feel threatened by him running by, so no, having a trail dog in my experience doesn’t help at all ? I haven’t thought to stop and use basic commands (usually bc the dogs come out snapping and trying to bite my dog and I am too busy trying to get in between them), but I’ll try that next time! Neighbors love to leave their yards open and tell me their dogs are super friendly…I’m sure they are most of the time, just like mine is but he must bring something out of them cuz they love to chase him!


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