I was in Coconut Creek last week working on a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® installation for a new client and his Boxer, Sparky. Sparkey, like all Boxers, loved to run all around the yard. The problem was that he also loved to run out of the yard. He loved to visit the neighbors and chase after the Mail Man, joggers, kids on bikes, etc. Needless to say, this was not making my new client the most popular person in the neighborhood. We got the system installed and Sparkey trained in two days. Sparkey quickly learned that it was not a good idea to try and leave the yard. There were more than enough things to do at home and not out and about. My client was very happy as well as all his neighbors.
In listening to Sparkey’s roaming issues, it reminded me of a problem I had as a kid and I rode my bicycle past houses with dogs. All the dogs wanted to chase me on my bike and nip at my feet. This was very annoying and no matter how fast I would speed up, they always seemed to stay up with me. I always ended up getting my feet nipped. I can clearly see why this did not make Sparkey a big favorite among many of the neighborhood kids.
Now that I am older and have been training dogs for many years, I can understand Sparkey’s perspective and relate to his reason for chasing kids on bicycles.
All dogs love to play games. We teach them many games such as “find it”, fetch, paw, hide and seek, etc. Dogs also play games that they learned as puppies with their mother. These games are dominant/submissive role playing exercises such as tug-of-war, king of the hill, tag, and follow the leader.
When we ride past a dog sitting in their front yard on our bicycle, we are naturally encouraging them to join in on our game of “follow the leader”. We don’t understand this because we are not dogs. The dog naturally wants to engage and “follow the leader”. In his mind, the goal of the game is to catch the leader and then hand off roles so that he is the leader and they bicyclist has to follow him.
The way that the dog catches the leader is to jump on them or give them a passive nip. When they are chasing after us on our bike and we think they are trying to bite us, all they are doing is playing follow the leader and trying to hand off the leadership role in the game.
When we speed up, we are escalating the game and increasing the dog’s adrenaline. We are making it harder for him to reach his goal and he simply increases his speed. And the result that we all, through experience, acknowledge is that the dog always catches us.
So, what can we do to have a nice bike ride without making it a “follow the leader” every time we pass a neighborhood dog sunning himself on the front lawn? I have some suggestions that I have tried and work pretty well:
- Slow down when you approach a yard with a dog. Go about as slow as you can and completely ignore the dog. Your slow movement will minimize any implication that you are engaging in play and will also minimize your level of distraction with the dog.
- If the dog begins to engage with you, do not speed up and try to get away. This will “put you in the game” and continue to increase the dog’s excitement and play drive.
- Stop and completely get off your bike so that you are on the side of the bike. Pick the side where your bicycle is between you and the dog. If the dog still tries to show dominance by jumping or nipping, you have your bike to block him and protect you.
- Take some treats with you. Once the dog is calmed down, toss a treat in his direction to redirect him away from you to the treat. This will also help to switch him from a dominant play drive mode to a food drive mode.
- Walk the bike away from the dog in a slow and calm manner. This will show that you have no intention in engaging in play and your slow and direct departure implies resolute retreat. Face him as you are moving away. You are of no interest to him.
- Continue to walk your bike away while facing him. Do not stare at him or make quick movements. Once you see him turn and head back to his yard, calmly get on your bike and slowly (very slowly) start to peddle off.
Remember that dogs love to play follow the leader and when you pass them on your bike, you are telling them “let’s go”. You can always get in contact with us by going to Dog Fence Training Help Coconut Creek South Florida or by phone at (954) 472-4724. Discover more about Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and acquire great dog training tips at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Coconut Creek South Florida. Robin and I are happy that we have been your neighborhood dog experts for over eleven years in Coconut Creek and all of South Florida. Our services are great in keeping dogs safe and contained. Robin and I are also professional dog trainers. Learn more about our Obedience and Behavior Home Dog Training Programs by clicking Home Dog Training Coconut Creek South Florida.