photo courtesy American Kennel Club.

According to this article, more and more mountain bikers are being attacked by dogs in the Western US and in one case a woman needed 60 stitches after being attacked by two canines near Vail, CO. Most of the dogs involved are sheep dogs like Great Pyrenees who see mountain bikers as a threat to their flock. Sheep dogs are trained to fend off predators like coyotes and mountain lions and to them, a fast moving mountain bike can look like a giant jungle cat (horses are often spooked by bikes for much the same reason).

The rise in incidents can be tied to the increasing numbers of mountain bikes venturing into remote grazing areas where sheep dogs are likely to be working. Some have suggested posting warning signs on trails where sheep dogs may be encountered while others say sheep dogs shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near public trails. It may be possible to socialize the dogs to ignore people on bikes, though some breeders have argued this can reduce the dogs’ ability to do their intended jobs.

If you’ve ever been chased by a dog on your bike it’s not a great feeling (seems to happen to me fairly often on road rides, though rarely on the trail). And while most dogs mountain bikers will encounter on the trail are of the friendly, family-dog variety, it’s important to be alert and keep your distance from working dogs like the Great Pyrenees. Have you had an encounter with a sheep dog on the trail? We’d love to hear your tips for staying safe in the comment section.

# Comments

  • dgaddis

    I’ve been chased by dogs on the road, most aren’t too serious. They bark till you get a little distance, then they go back to laying around or whatever they were doing.

    BUT, a big dog is the best motivation to pedal hard I’ve ever seen!

  • 96toy

    Its alot to do with hikers not having there dogs on a leash. Some many times I come around a coner and almost hit a dog not on a leash.

  • ChiliPepper

    That goes with MTBR’s riding without there dogs on a leash as well as hikers doing the same. Its a no loose situation here. People will not hold responsibility nor accountability for there animals, and it will never change. I see it all the time in public parks, and also had a few chase me and one very close bite from one before in a NO ANIMALS park. After my son was nearly bit and the dog cam after me while riding by, I drop kicked in it head at speed. The dog had no business being off the leash nor even in the park in general. Still fighting that issue at hand but will have that owner expelled from all public parks once he is caught by the police. He always manages to take off before the police arrive. He even attempted to run me over with his truck at one point. I have nothing against dogs, but the owners need to take responsibility and accountability for there own actions and there pets as well.

    Nough said……..

  • element22

    So true Chilly. Years back there was a dog around where I used to live where the owner would let the dog walk it self around. Problem was that the dog would go after you if your on a bike. One day I was riding and it snuck up on me and nipped my leg. I then kicked it in the face. Chased it back to its place and warned that owner if he let that dog free again and this happened there was going to be a problem with the authorities…Well he was trying to blame me. And continued too for a few days until a small kid on a bike also got bit. When I found out I called the authorities and well unfortunately the dog got taken away.

  • dgaddis

    I’ve ridden with a dog a few times. Not my dog, but one of the other guys riding with us. It was pretty cool. But it was a well behaved dog, and we weren’t in a crowded area. Our group was the only people on the trails. It’s all about being responsible. Many people are not.

  • ChiliPepper

    Good cal and move element! Yes dgaddis, there are some responsible and accountable animal owners out there and I have rode with friends with dogs as you mentioned. It is far worse off the trails than on the trails, trust me.

  • Dyno_Don

    A good defense is your WATERBOTTLE, I hate to waste water, but not as much as I hate being bit, just open the top, point at dog and squirt, don’t stop, keep peddling, the water freaks them out and they don’t know what to do, it gives you the upper hand on most dogs, it’s always worked for me, ALWAYS!!! it gives you chance to put some distance on them, GOOD LUCK!! you can alway use good luck..

  • Endo Alley

    I have come in contact with Great Pyrenees many times while biking. They are beautiful dogs, but really badass. I always get off my bike when I see sheep in the distance and keep my bike between myself and the dogs while walking slowly. Usually they get within 10 feet of you and bark and growl. They are doing their job. I respect that. One time a few years back, not too far from where this woman was bit, I was alone riding through a high mountain meadow and ran into three of these dogs with a herd. Two of the dogs were a little older and mature. They kept a little distance, but growled and showed me their teeth. A younger one was much more aggressive. I set my bike down and grabbed a 10 pound flat rock. The young guy bit me in the leg. The rock of course came down on his head. He dropped. I left as quick as possible. Hopefully he was OK, and learned a little respect for humans. I always try to find a BIG stick when I run into these guys. As I said before, these are beautiful, hard working animals. And running sheep in Colorado is a tough thankless job. So, I hope and expect that I will not have to use the BIG stick. But just in case.

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