Why do dogs attack cyclists and chase bikes?

Every day, you hit the roads on your bike. It’s fun and it keeps you fit. You love it. After years of running, you switched to biking to keep your body healthy — and it’s worked.

Unfortunately, you still face a lot of hazards. Drivers cut you off. People open car doors into the bike lane. The city doesn’t fill in the potholes. You worry that you will get hurt while you’re out for a ride.

One risk you may not have considered is getting chased or even attacked by a dog. If the dog breaks off of a leash or runs out of someone’s yard unchecked, it could bite you as you ride past, knock you off your bike and even bite you on the ground. It’s a terrifying experience for a cyclist to see a large, angry-looking dog charging them at full speed.

So, why does this happen? There are a few potential reasons:

  1. Dogs are predators. They naturally want to chase prey. Anything that moves faster than the dog appears to be prey since the dog may interpret this as fleeing. Its instincts kick in. It chases you down because that prey drive is irresistible to the dog.
  2. The dog is bored. Perhaps the owners never take it on walks. They just let it out into the yard, where it sits in the sun. It has all of this built-up energy and aggression. When you ride by, chasing you becomes an outlet. The dog then gets riled up and lashes out at you.
  3. The dog thinks you are a threat. Remember, dogs are mostly used to people on foot, walking at a normal pace. When it sees you moving quickly, it may think you pose a threat or that you are on the attack. This is the same reason that dogs often chase runners.
  4. The dog wants to protect its territory. If you stayed farther away from it, it may pick up its head and watch you cycle by without incident. When you get close, the dog assumes you decided to encroach on its territory and it attacks to keep you away. Of course, this does not excuse the behavior, as you have a right to ride by someone’s house on your bike. But this illustrates how a dog thinks and why it is necessary for owners to take proper precautions.

If you do get bitten by a dog and/or knocked off of your bike, you could have some serious injuries and costly medical bills. Make sure that you know what legal options you may have to seek financial compensation for these costs.