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Dealing with Dogs


Some tips for handling encounters with "Man's Best Friend" while cycling

Topic: Bicycle Touring  
Categories: Hazards, Howto
Keywords: dogs, bicycle touring, pepper spray, dog deterrent, dog repellent, Halt!, advice, experiences, Dazer, Pet Agree, Review

Permalink: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/DealingWithDogs

Copyright © 2003-2014 By Neil Gunton - (contact)

Status: Completed Feb 2003Featured Journal #100
Last update: Sunday October 8, 2006 15:03 (US/Pacific) (edited Sat 16 Jun 2012 09:34 (US/Pacific))
92,014 hits since February 24, 2003 (hitcounts updated nightly)
0 pics


Table of Contents

The Chase Not always "Just Kidding"

Strategies

      Ignoring Dog? What dog?
      Pedaling Like Hell Fast Food
      Yelling Maybe He'll Listen To Reason
      Spraying With Water Seeing If He Wants A Drink With His Meal
      Hitting With Pump Games Dogs Love To Play
      Kicking How To Commit Suicide On A Bicycle
      Stopping Trusting in God
      Ultrasonic Dazer How To Tell If A Dog Is Stone Deaf
      Pepper Spray The Cyclist Bites Back

Conclusion And the winner is...

Motivation The Attack

Afterword Doggy thoughts

Links

Ultrasonic Dazer / Pet Agree Review

Stronger Stuff - Fox Labs Pepper Spray


Show links to this doc


The Chase: Not always "Just Kidding"

        
When I did my first big bicycle tour, I started off thinking that dogs would probably not be much of an issue. I knew they liked to chase bikes, but that's just dogs being dogs, right? But otherwise they would be pretty harmless. Then came that fateful day in Kentucky, when I was attacked on the open road by a pitbull in full sight of its owner - who was not much help, declaring that "people shouldn't be riding bikes on the road anyway"! That dog ripped a hole in one of my rear Ortlieb panniers, and the owner did absolutely nothing about it in terms of damage compensation. The local sheriff was very sympathetic, but at the end of the day it was a case of gritting my teeth and taping up the pannier. Well, you may live your entire life without encountering a bad dog (or owner!), but since having had a couple more experiences like that, I have decided that cyclists definitely need to be ready to take defensive measures when on the road, particularly in rural areas. You just can't count on support from the dog owners or even the Law.

Now let's be clear on one thing: This is not an article about hating dogs. I really do like dogs, most of the time (like people, there are good and bad ones)... it's just that I want to be able to defend myself when attacked - preferably without injuring myself or the dog in the process.

So, what do you do when something that looks just like a bunch of teeth with legs comes after you? There are a number of different strategies that I've seen suggested. I'll try to run down the list, and then present my own recipe for survival...


Strategies

        
        

Ignoring: Dog? What dog?

                
Some people recommend just ignoring the dog. This will actually work fine in some cases, but it depends on the type of dog. If Fido is really just after a good chase but isn't craving actual blood or another chainring to hang on his kennel, then you'll be ok. Just keep a close eye on his location so that he doesn't go under your wheels. However, there will always be cases where the dog is after more than just nice clean fun, so you'd be better off having something ready just in case the situation goes ballistic.

Update: Since first writing this article, I have come to the firm conclusion that letting a dog chase you on your bike is a bad idea, no matter what the motivations of the dog (just chasing, out for lunch, happy puppy etc). In fact, it's extremely dangerous simply having a running dog around you while you're in motion. The dog can, in its excitement, get under your wheels and cause a horrific, possibly fatal crash. So, I now think that any of the "passive" methods for dealing with dogs on the bike are flawed. You need an active deterrent to stop the chase immediately.... read on!

        
        

Pedaling Like Hell: Fast Food

                
There is a school of thought that says "Well, Fang's just after a good old chase, why not give it to him?". Well, there are several counter-arguments to this. One obvious reason is safety. If you're pedaling for your life with a hound on your heels, it's unlikely you'll be able to pay as close attention to the road and traffic. Also, it's actually unlikely that you'll be able to outrun the dog in all circumstances. For instance, there were times in Kentucky when I was on a very small, bumpy road, possibly going uphill, where there just wasn't the space or aerobic capacity to outrun Killer. If you're pulling a full load (as most cycle tourists are) then you'll find it even harder to suddenly accelerate to 30 mph (which some dogs can do anyway). So, you'd still be better off having something handy to convince Fluffy that you're not lunch.
        
        

Yelling: Maybe He'll Listen To Reason

                
Ahhh, the faith we have in mankind. We assume that all owners have trained their dogs to respond to commands such as "NO!" and "BAD DOG!". True, some dogs have had those noises drilled into their heads and will exhibit appropriate looks of guilt and self-doubt. But, there are always going to be out-of-the-way places where the owner has either NOT trained the animal at all (common in the case of country dogs whose job it is to simply hang around, act surly and snarl a lot), or actively encourages the animal to go after passing cyclists. In these cases, saying "BAD DOG!" is simply an affirmation of what a good job he's doing. In my experience, the dogs that respond to spoken commands are not likely to have been any real danger to you anyway, so this is really more of a verbal placebo to convince yourself that you're actually in control of the situation. Unless, of course, you're one of those "Dog Whisperers" who can charm a rabid snarling beast into a cute affectionate companion. You should probably find out BEFORE the trip whether you fall into this last category.
        
        

Spraying With Water: Seeing If He Wants A Drink With His Meal

                
I have heard many people say that simply spraying water from your water bottles can deter a chasing dog. That's fine, but I have an objection: That water's for DRINKING! I found that some of the worst dogs were in the hottest, most humid areas (Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri) and I really want to keep my water, not give Cujo a cool shower. Also, it doesn't take long for a dog to realize that water spray is no danger and really kinda fun - like an added bonus. Hey, you chase them and they even automatically cool ya down too. Great! So, in my opinion, spraying water is not a deterrent that I would bet my life on.
        
        

Hitting With Pump: Games Dogs Love To Play

                
What's the most popular game that all dogs love? That's right, tug-of-war. And all Pooch has to do to bring you down is grab that stick you're waving in his face, and pull. Also, you run the risk of seriously wounding the dog, if you happen to strike him in the eye, or hard enough on the head. Not to mention, you'll probably ruin your pump... and finally, it's probably not a good idea to be wildly waving your arm around while guiding your loaded bike with the other hand. You run a serious risk of, well, you know, ending your life - thus giving Kibbles his heartfelt wish, namely fresh, quivering, Lycra-clad meat. Yum.
        
        

Kicking: How To Commit Suicide On A Bicycle

                
Trust me, you DO NOT want to try kicking from your moving bicycle. Unless you're a Karate black belt or possess other qualifications in the striking arts, you'll seriously risk crashing your bike if you deal with dogs by kicking. Besides which, you'll have to disengage one foot from your pedals, which means slowing down and prolonging the confrontation. You also put your leg more in the dog's face, thus presenting an even more attractive target for him to aim for. Don't try this, however tempting it may be. Anyway, who actually enjoys kicking a dog? Not me. I say, deter - don't injure (if at all possible)... so, personally, I look for other ways. Next?
        
        

Stopping: Trusting in God

                
There is a school of thought that says you should stop the bike and keep your bicycle between you and the dog. That's definitely good advice if all else fails, or if you have a flat tire. Probably most dogs will just give up and go home eventually, unless you're actually on their land. If you're on the road then the dog should leave you alone. Whatever you do, don't try staring the dog down! This is doggy-language for "I AM CHALLENGING YOU", and while it may work on some dogs, others will just take you up on the challenge. In any case, I really don't see any of this as a generally valid way of dealing with dogs while touring on bicycle, because you simply do not want to be stopping every time you're ambushed by a flying carpet with teeth. This may also be a faulty strategy if there are multiple dogs, since they may try to surround you. Getting backed into a corner by a pack of vicious dogs is not my idea of "coping", it's more like an extract from your last-ever diary entry.
        
        

Ultrasonic Dazer: How To Tell If A Dog Is Stone Deaf

                
Ultrasonic sound waves have definitely been proven to affect dogs, because they can hear higher frequencies than we can. Also, if the sound is at the correct frequency and loud enough, it does (in theory) deter the dog. One of the more well-known brands is the Dazer. However, there are a couple of caveats: First, how do you know the dog can even hear? The older we get, the more difficulty we have hearing higher frequencies. I have no idea if the same thing happens with dogs, but it might. Also, high frequency sounds are extremely directional. That is, they don't travel very far and you have to have a direct line of sight for it to work. I have read anecdotal tales from people who have said that they tried this in a real situation, and the dog didn't seem to notice it. So the conclusion with these seems to be "It probably works under some situations, with some dogs - but not always". Personally, I don't feel particularly comfortable taking a gamble on how deaf a dog is as he bears down on me, The Prey.

Update: I decided to get a Dazer and try it out for myself - you can read my review later in this article.

        
        

Pepper Spray: The Cyclist Bites Back

                
These are aerosol sprays that emit a stream of liquid that has extracts from Capsaicin pepper. This feels very hot when it gets into the eyes and/or mouth. It's used by police departments all over the world, and there is a version formulated specifically for dogs, called Halt!. It was originally made for mailmen and other people who have to approach houses with potentially unfriendly dogs. Apparently it does no permanent harm to the dog, but it does give them a painful half hour to think about their actions. This stuff does work, but you have to get the dog directly in the face for it to be effective. If you're looking for a deterrent that pulls no punches and yet leaves no scars, then this may be the one for you.

You have a choice between "fogger" and "stream". You may want to get the stream type (which is actually the most common) rather than the fogger - the stream is easier to aim from a moving bicycle. The foggers emit a cloud of pepper spray which is easier to aim when you're on foot, and actually more effective since the droplets are smaller and the attacker is more likely to encounter the cloud. A fog may be more affected by wind shear, but on the other hand you don't have to be as accurate. I have sprayed a fogger in a general direction behind me, and the dog encountered the cloud and stopped.

Halt! uses the stream method. Some people have complained about the stream sprays being hard to aim, but with a little coordination and practice you should be able to get the dog with one burst of a second or two. You should probably buy at least a couple of extra cans before your trip so that you can practice somewhere outdoors, to get a feel for what it's like to use. Never spray into the wind, or indoors - you'll only succeed in gassing yourself ... which, if nothing else, will convince you of its effectiveness!


Conclusion: And the winner is...

        
You may detect a certain bias in my descriptions above; as you can tell, I am somewhat dubious about everything but pepper spray. This is for good reason - the stuff really works well. It doesn't harm the dog (beyond a half hour of face-rubbing in the grass) and it actually teaches Fifi that chasing a cyclist is painful. If we can make that association (cyclists = pain) then you're doing both other cyclists and the dog itself a favor. If the dog doesn't go running off into the main road chasing people, then it'll probably live a longer and happier life. In order to best use Halt!, you should have the dog a little behind you, because of the wind factor. The stream is easiest to aim with the dog directly behind. This sounds hard, but if you're used to the bike then you should be able to do this for the couple of seconds it takes to get a good shot in. Remember that you need to hit the dog in the eyes, nose or mouth. Anywhere else, and it's no good.

The dog will not necessarily give up straight away. I had a pitbull keep chasing me for almost half a minute after I got it - it just kept on running, eyes tightly shut and streaming, until it veered off the road straight into some bushes. Pitbulls are tough little bastards. But ALL the dogs I encountered after I started using Halt! quickly ceased to be any real threat to me as soon as they experienced the pepper spray.

You need to have TWO cans of pepper spray at the ready. The first can is the one you use, and the second can is new and unused. This is because you'll only ever run out when you're actually using it, right? So, when's the very worst time to have to stop and rummage around in your panniers for a new can? Right. So, always keep two cans on your handlebar bag, ready to grab at a moment's notice. Note that the cans need to be kept outside any bags, not inside. There is simply no time to have to rummage for stuff when you're being chased. I clip my cans onto the mesh on the front of my Ortlieb handlebar bag. That's faster even than putting it in my pocket, since the can is only a few inches from my hands. See this update from my Pedaling to the Mall journal for some pictures of a Halt! clip-on holder available from Nashbar.

You should also buy at least one can which you will use simply for practice, outside somewhere quiet. Get used to how it operates, and what the stream is like. You don't want the first time you use the thing to be in actual combat. Halt! is not all that expensive, you can get it for under four dollars per can if you look around for sales. Not a lot of money for peace of mind. It also seems to have a long shelf life - I still have cans left over from my trip in 1998, and they worked fine when I tested them recently in 2003 - that's five years later!

I'm not in the marketing department for Halt!, honestly. It's just a product that works really well for what it was designed for. If you can find other pepper sprays that work well for dogs, then that's fine - but do make sure that it is safe for use on canines. You don't want to be permanently injuring the beasts, just deterring them! For example, I've heard of people who have put ammonia in their water bottles - this may be effective, but it may also seriously harm the dog's eyes. Don't persecute the dog for being a dog, just educate it! Pepper spray leaves a lasting impression, but no permanent damage.


Motivation: The Attack

        
I was driven to write this article by some encounters I had with dogs in Ashland, WI during January of 2003. I was walking up a lane near my house when suddenly this Dalmatian came out from beside a garage and ran toward me, barking. I thought it would just run up to me and bark a bit, so I just kept walking. But this thing actually tore into my leg with its teeth as it passed. It ripped a large hole in my pants, and drew blood. The owner was right there, and initially said (as all owners seem to) that it was ok, the dog was harmless. Then he saw my leg, and was surprised to say the least. I didn't know the guy, but convinced him to pay up on the spot for a new pair of pants. Other than that, I was too shocked to do much else than go home and change. I didn't notice the flesh wound until I got home, probably because of the cold (it was below 20F). The next day I went to my local bike store and got a couple of cans of Halt!, one for me and one for my wife (who walks the same road every day). Since then, I've had four more encounters with that dog and two others in the area. In each case it came running up to me barking, and went away rather quickly after a quick burst of Halt!. I'm sad to say that I always have the stuff ready in my pocket now.

Some people would say that I should have simply reported the owner to the police - that's probably true, but I felt that since we came to an arrangement "on the spot" for the owner to pay for the ripped pants, I didn't really feel good ethically about then going to the police as well. Call me stupid, but that's how I felt. However after a few more encounters - none of which resulted in injury, due to the Halt!, which the dogs learned to avoid - I lost patience with the situation. I warned the owner that if I was every bothered by those dogs again then I would go straight to the police. Since then, I have had no problems. I was always very calm and reasonable with the guy, never lost my temper. I think he appreciated that and finally listened, so the whole thing ended relatively well.

However, if you're on a bike tour then you'll not have the chance to build relationships like this. You'll also probably find that the local police will not be much help. On a long tour, pursuing the owner in court would mean the end of your trip (since you'd have to stick around) and even then you probably would not see any money out of the owner unless actual bodily harm was done. This is why I believe in deterring the dog before it even has a chance to sink its teeth into anything.

Update: In September of 2003 my wife was menaced again by these same dogs while walking to college early in the morning. As a result I finally made a report to Animal Control (situated in the local police station), and the officer was aghast that I had not reported the original incident - particularly since it had drawn blood (there is always a risk of disease, even rabies, which is fatal if not treated quickly). Anyway, the officer said she would pursue the case, but because this was the first report, it would only be a warning. Thus I am kicking myself - if I had only had the sense to make a report after the first time, then there would have already been a history, and Animal Control could have taken more serious action (as, I think now, would be justified - these owners just don't seem to take the issue very seriously at all). I don't know what happened as a result, but my wife tells me that the house now has a "For Sale" sign up. Probably nothing to do with us, but "good riddance", I say. So, the moral of the story? If you're attacked or menaced by a dog which is off the leash, then report it - no if's, and's or but's. Just do it. It helps establish a history for Animal Control to refer to if anything else happens, and it also allows them to establish a pattern of behavior which can lend context to future incidents. Not reporting incidents helps nobody, least of all you.


Afterword: Doggy thoughts

        
I've definitely noticed that certain geographical areas have more bad dogs than others. For example, on my TransAm I got attacked more in Kentucky and Missouri than anywhere else. I believe that around here at least (Ashland, Wisconsin), where it's very cold during the Winter months and everyone (including the dogs) gets cabin fever. Also, everybody seems to drive everywhere in their cars, minivans, pickup trucks and SUV's - so the local dogs are simply not very used to seeing people walking. So when they do encounter people it's more of a surprise, and they accordingly react in a more extreme fashion. I think it's the same with some of the dogs in Kentucky - most people around there probably drive everywhere, since there are no sidewalks in the country and anyway, we simply live in a car culture nowadays. If the dogs saw people every day, then I don't think they would be as quick to attack. This is just a theory however - at the end of the day, the important thing to note is that dogs really do attack people. Just because you've never had a problem, don't assume that you never will. That's what I thought right up to the moment when that pitbull went for my leg in Kentucky.

Another thing I've noticed is that dog owners sometimes seem to forget that this is a DOG and not a person. They anthropomorphize the poor beast until they're talking to it like it understands every word. Next comes denial that Poochiecums could ever do anything bad. So then while Poochiecums is busy tearing the flesh off the now-still paperboy the owner is standing there saying "Oh, don't worry about him, he's just playing! He's really harmless! AREN'T you, you big smoochiecoochie - oh look, isn't that cute, he's got a piece of small intestine!"... well, all I can say is, DOGS WILL BE DOGS. Sometimes even the most well bred of canines will forget all about the training school and just revert to around 10,000 years ago, when his ancestors used to chase down prey and eat it. We as cyclists have to accept our part in this dysfunctional little food chain, and develop our own version of horns and tusks to protect ourselves. Pepper spray does nicely in that regard.

I should just add one more thing, just in case it seems like I really hate dogs. Well, sure, I do hate it when dogs attack me! But I definitely actually rather like dogs. I also generally seem to get on with them very well. When I was living in New York City I was a volunteer team leader with New York Cares, a community non-profit organization that helps with many projects around the city. One of the projects I was a regular on was walking the dogs at BARC (Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition). This is a no-kill shelter that has a few dozen dogs, and on the weekend a team of volunteers would go and walk each dog individually for 45 minutes or an hour, both to give exercise and to allow the shelter staff to clean out the cages. A lot of these dogs were wonderful personalities who I really liked a lot. So, I do not think of myself as a dog hater. However, I do believe that just as there are bad people, so there are bad dogs, and I definitely believe fervently in practical defense against attacks from these - which is the point of this article. Pepper spray is an effective deterrent that doesn't hurt the dog if used sparingly and with proper care - and the dog remembers the lesson, which benefits you, the dog, the owner, and other cyclists.

I hope this has been useful - if you have any comments or rants, then please feel free to add them to the Guestbook. Also, if you have your own take on the dog situation (or other touring issues) then why not write your own article? It's easy, and everyone else can share your experiences.


Links

        
For more products, articles and advice on dealing with dogs while cycling, please see the Dogs section of the Resources.

Ultrasonic Dazer / Pet Agree Review

        
I decided to give the ultrasonic Dazer dog deterrent a try, having read various favorable testimonials on the internet. If you've read the whole article then you'll realize that I had my doubts about the efficacy of this device, but I was willing to give it a fair shake and see for myself.

I ordered two of the Dazer model from Tesco Shopping in Nova Scotia. This guy was recommended by KII Enterprises, who actually make the Dazer. They warned me about cheap copies of the Dazer which are made in China, so I wanted to go through a reputable dealer. You can order directly from KII, but they told me that it would take up to a week to ship the thing, so I decided to go to a dealer.

When I eventually received the package, it turned out to be not the Dazer at all, but something called Pet Agree. On closer inspection (and after confirming with KII Enterprises) it turns out that the Pet Agree is exactly the same as the Dazer, simply repackaged. This is apparently because some people don't want to have something called "Dazer" for training their pet - they prefer something with a more "friendly" name. Bizarre, if you ask me, but as long as the thing is the same inside, I'm not bothered. In fact, it could be an advantage if you found yourself confronted by a dog owner after using the device, you could show them something that looks a little less "threatening" and offensive. Hey, it's for training pets, not liquidizing their brains! See, it's called "Pet Agree"!

Anyway, on with the review: The first thing I noted was that this device should not be exposed to rain or water at all. It has a plastic case, but there are holes (for the switch). Also, the end which has the ultrasonic emitter is not sealed. KII told me that the electronics are delicate and should not be exposed to rain or other moisture. So you should take this into account when thinking about the situations you might be required to use the device. Also, it will not work from inside a plastic bag - the ultrasonic emitter requires an unobstructed line of view.

In practice, the Dazer/Pet Agree turns out to be variable in its effectiveness. On walks around Ashland, WI, where there are quite a few agressive dogs, I began with some (very cautious) tests. I started by aiming the device at distant dogs just to see if they would react in any way. Now the instructions say that the Dazer is most effective from about 5-10 feet away, but I knew that this was for deterrence - I was curious to see just how far away dogs could even hear it. The results were inconclusive - most of the dogs I tried it on (from more than 100 feet away) did not react at all. I was somewhat disappointed - I am no ultrasonic expert but I was expecting at least a raised ear or a glance in my direction. Dogs do, after all, respond to dog whistles, which operate on pretty much the same principle. But the results of this first "long distance" testing were disappointing - there was very little reaction from any dog.

Next I tried it on agressive dogs. There were three that we came across on a walk around town. The first was tied up in a yard, a few houses away. This is a very agressive dog, some kind of pitbull/terrier crossbreed. Starting from a distance, I tried to get any reaction at all (i.e. change in behavior) from this dog, but there was none. Even when I was walking by on the sidewalk about 10 feet away, this dog was still straining at the leash to get me - even though I was aiming the device directly at it and "shooting". Pretty scary. I should add that I am familiar with this dog, and could see that its behaviour was utterly unchanged from the norm (i.e. Beast From Hell).

The second dog was on one of those large, sprawling, run-down country places with 10 abandoned pickup trucks and old cars. We stumbled onto the dog's territory from a woods path, by mistake. It was a large, black dog and it ran right up to us, barking hysterically. It was about three feet away, and acting very aggressively. I tried the Pet Agree, and there was no reaction at all. We retreated.

The final dog came running out at us from a garden. It reacted to the Pet Agree by swiftly running back where it came from in a big arc. There, it peeked out at us again from behind the house, where I gave it another blast, and it kind of cocked its head sideways as if listening to something. This was actually a big relief, because up to this point I had been wondering if the devices were working at all. Obviously this dog could hear it loud and clear, and moreover it was deterred by it.

My conclusion from all this is personal and shouldn't be taken as scientific - but in my opinion, the Dazer/Pet Agree is not usable as a dog deterrent in its current form. It should be at least water resistant, and in my (unscientific but empirical) tests, it did not seem to affect all dogs (or even an obvious majority). Therefore I would feel extremely uneasy depending on it for my personal protection against agressive dogs. I don't know where all those glowing testimonials came from, but having actually tried this out on some of the local dogs I can say conclusively that it didn't work for me in many cases. I am fairly confident that the two devices we tested were working and not defective, because of the fact that they seemed to work on at least one of the dogs. Unfortunately without an ultrasonic testing device it is hard to confirm how well the things are actually functioning. I would stress again that these are personal conclusions resulting from non-scientific tests.

In an interesting end-note, I went out on my bike to see if the device would work on a dog out on a remote country road that had repeatedly chased me in the past. I had used Halt! pepper spray on my previous trip. Unfortunately, on the occasion I had the Dazer, the dog refused to chase. It saw me coming, and it just paused there, one paw in the air. Then it retreated. So obviously it had learned a lesson from the previous application of Halt!. I was both gratified and frustrated by this, since on the one hand it's a Good Thing that this dog won't be rushing into the road to chase bikes any more, but on the other hand it had been a "faithful" chaser on whom I had been hoping to try out the Dazer. Oh well! I've passed this dog on several occasions since, and it has obviously been completely cured of chasing bikes by the Halt!.

So, my conclusion remains that Halt! (or other pepper spray appropriate for use on canines) is the best thing out there for deterring aggressive dogs. I think I gave the Dazer/Pet Agree a fair shake, and was left with a feeling that while it definitely works with some dogs, I certainly wouldn't want to depend on it. Having said all that, obviously there are people out there who have had success with it - so you'll have to come to your own conclusions.


Stronger Stuff - Fox Labs Pepper Spray

        
I have run into a couple of dogs recently that didn't seem too bothered by the Halt! pepper spray. Maybe it was just an older can, or perhaps I didn't "get" him in the eyes (which you really have to do in order for it to be effective). This dog would get in very close to my heels and worry the hell out of me, because I was afraid he would go under my wheels. I also noticed that I had swerved way out into the middle of the road to avoid him, which is really dangerous. I was lucky that there were no cars passing at that precise moment (though there was one approaching from the opposite direction, and I managed to catch the shocked expression of the driver as he passed by).

In any case, I have started carrying a stronger spray, which appears to work very well. The last time I encountered this mutt, he came in as usual, but very quickly lost all interest in me once this stuff hit him. It is "police strength" and thus much stronger than Halt!, and also more expensive. I would get the "stream" type rather than the "fogger", because the fogger will be much more easy to get over yourself and your equipment, also it will be more affected by the wind.

Basically any of the law-enforcement strength sprays should do the job, but after a little research I chose Fox Labs. They have been around for a while and seem to have an excellent reputation in the law enforcement community. This stuff is hot! Plenty hot enough for deterring dogs, at least.

http://www.google.com/search?q=fox+labs+pepper+spray

The smaller 2 ounce units are a nice size for carrying on a bike. I would carry a couple, so that when you run out you'll always have a spare handy. When you think about it, you only run out when you're using it, which is just when you really need it! You might also want to look into the "inert" units for practicing - you don't want the first time you use this to be "for real".

These will obviously also work on bears and people, should you ever have that sort of need. Not that I am particularly paranoid, but it's certainly nice to know that you have some means of defending yourself against just about any creature that might try to attack you, without having to carry actual firearms.

You should also look at bike holders. After all, the stuff has to be VERY accessible at a moment's notice. If you have to rummage around in a handlebar bag or pocket, then it's probably too late. Pepper spray should be right there on your handlebar or stem, close to where your hands are naturally. There are pepper spray holders designed specifically for the bike, and others designed for use on your arm but could just as easily be strapped onto the stem or other place.

You can also use the Halt! holder which Nashbar sells (or, used to sell - seems like they may have stopped making them), although these cans are slightly bigger than Halt! they still appear to work ok:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?page_id=9196

http://www.tamiasoutside.com/2011/04/30/haltholder/

An alternative might be some industrial strength velcro tape. I haven't actually tried this yet, but the cans aren't that heavy so it might work. I'd be worried about the can jarring off the bike when you go over a bump, but experimentation would tell the tale there.

-Neil


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