It is not uncommon for dogs to chase motorcycles. In fact, new riders may be surprised at how often these things happen. While chasing your motorcycle, dogs are not just putting their lives in danger but also putting your life and the life of other people in danger.
So what is the solution? What should motorcyclists do if a dog chases them?
If a dog is chasing your motorcycle, it is recommended to try to disrupt its trajectory and point of interception by cruising at a slower speed until the dog engages in a chase and then accelerating away past the dog. Keep distance from the dog and do not try to kick it or run it over.
That would be the short and sweet answer. However, there is more to this topic that should be mentioned. Like the different situations you can find yourself in and what to do in each one—especially when it comes to specific legal matters. Below you will find more information on this topic.
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What to do when a dog is chasing your motorcycle
The standard way of dealing with dogs chasing your motorcycle, which is also taught at MSF courses and asked on the DMV tests, is to downshift and slow down. When the dog starts approaching you, accelerate away from the dog before interception is about to happen, leaving the dog behind you.
Here’s what to do when a dog is chasing your motorcycle:
Downshift and slow down
If you spot a dog that is likely to chase your motorcycle, shift down and lower your speed. The goal is to appear as a slow-moving target to the dog.
Wait until the dog starts chasing your motorcycle
The dog will plan a mental point of interception based on your slower speed. Then it will engage.
The moment the dog engages in a chase, increase your speed.
As you accelerate, you will mess up the dog’s planned trajectory and momentum, and it will not be able to act and adjust on time, leaving it behind you.
Keep a safe distance between you and the dog
Remember to keep a safe distance between your motorcycle and the dog at all times when possible.
If necessary, and if possible and safe, you can veer outwards away from the dog and veer back in your lane after you have created some distance between you and the dog. If you are in traffic, keep an eye on the other vehicles on the road. You do not want to hit another car or cause another a lot more dangerous accident on the road.
The same strategy of slowing down and then accelerating away and leaving the dog behind you is applicable to both aggressive and friendly dogs chasing your motorcycle.
Avoid hitting or engaging with the dog if possible
If you spot the dog from a good distance away, you will be able to prepare and, in most cases, avoid any collision with the dog. However, there are instances where the dog may suddenly jump out in front of you, leaving you no time to prepare at all.
If a dog suddenly jumps in front of your motorcycle and engages in a chase, you may end up hitting it. Generally, it can be more dangerous to you and the other participants in traffic if you try to dodge it. In most cases, it is considered less dangerous to hit something small than risk hitting a car. On the other hand, it is best to prepare and stop with larger animals.
Why do dogs chase motorcycles?
Dogs chase motorcycles because they are territorial animals. Usually, dogs chase motorcycles because they want to protect their territory and drive the intruder away. Some dogs will chase motorcycles because it will simulate a real hunt or because they are bored and find it fun.
Generally speaking, dogs do not hate motorcycles. Some dogs may find the sounds motorcycles make annoying, but that is not always the case as there are plenty of dogs that will chase both motorcycles and bicycles when given the opportunity.
Dog behavior while chasing vehicles
It is normal behavior for a dog to chase your motorcycle
Most dogs will simply try to get close to your motorcycle and start barking at you in order to drive you away.
Dogs cannot outrun motorcycles. Most dogs can run at about 15 to 20 mph (the fastest dogs are considered to be the greyhound which can reach up to 45 mph.). However, dogs can sustain these speeds only for a short distance, and dogs, in general, will run between 2 to 5 miles. (Dogs are definitely not going to chase you forever.)
Territorial dogs try to protect their territory and chase away intruders—they will not necessarily try to attack you. As soon as the intruder is a good distance away from their territory, they will disengage and stop chasing. So a simple thing as not hanging out in their territory more than necessary and continuing to go on your way is recommended.
Some dogs will try to attack you or your motorcycle. Usually, aggressive dogs will try to bite your legs (a good reason why proper footwear is recommended) or the motorcycle’s tires. If you have a pannier, it can end up hitting the dog, so be careful not to lose your balance.
Riders should be particularly careful when passing cars with dogs hanging out of the window. Passing so close to the dog can startle it and cause it to become particularly defensive or aggressive. Although rare, the dog may jump out of the vehicle and attack or bite you.
What not to do if a dog is chasing your motorcycle?
Do not kick the dog
If a dog is chasing your motorcycle, do not attempt to kick it.
Kicking the dog is dangerous because it can affect the rider’s balance and control of the motorcycle. At higher speeds, this can also twist and sprain the rider’s leg, and it also gives the dog something to grab onto.
Do not try to run it over
This should go without saying. However, if a dog chases your motorcycle, do not attempt to hit it. Runnin over animals (regardless of their size) is not only going to harm or even kill the animal, but it is also extremely dangerous for the rider. This can also result in the dog’s owner pressing charges for animal cruelty and personal property damage.
Be careful with swerving on instict
If a dog you did not see starts chasing your motorcycle, things can go bad in a split second.
However, try to be as careful as possible and put your safety in the first place while maneuvering. It is quite possible that one can get off the road as they try to avoid collision with the animal or get into the oncoming lane and crash.
Focus on keeping your balance and control over the bike while braking. Swerving on instinct is very natural, but most experts agree this can be extremely dangerous and thus should be avoided.
Do not try to scare the dog
Some riders share that revving the engine can scare some dogs away.
However, in certain instances, the loud noises can cause more problems, further aggravating the dog. This may also get people in legal trouble as it may be viewed as harassing or abusing the dog, especially if this leads to an accident.
What to do if you hit the dog that has been chasing your motorcycle?
If you have accidentally hit the dog that chased your motorcycle, try to remain calm and collected. It is normal to get panicked, and nothing can prepare you for the shock of hitting something while on your motorcycle.
Below are the things you should do if you have hit a dog while riding your motorcycle.
Check on the animal
If you have hit a dog with your motorcycle, stop and check on it. Try to help the animal in any way possible.
In some cases, unwillingness to help the animal can lead to animal cruelty or animal abuse charges.
Only move the injured animal if this is absolutely necessary—in order to prevent other incidents and if this is not going to hurt the dog further.
If you are going to move the dog, be extremely careful, as injured dogs and animals can become particularly aggressive and try to bite you due to the shock.
Legally speaking, moving the dog is not considered taking possession of it. Taking possession of the dog is normally considered putting the dog in your car or taking it on your motorcycle. If you take possession of the dog, you are also responsible for taking care of the dog.
However, if you bring the dog to a veterinarian, you may also have to pay the treatment bills. Such matters should be discussed before taking any action. (Usually, it is best to call for help and wait.)
Remain at the scene of accident
If you hit a dog that has been chasing your motorcycle, do not flee the scene. In most states, dogs are considered personal property. If you hit the dog with your motorcycle and immediately leave, this can be considered property damage, which is a crime that can lead to criminals penalties and charges.
Generally speaking, if the rider stops and tries to make a reasonable effort to help the dog after hitting it, the legal consequences fall on the dog’s owner because they are responsible for preventing their dog from simply running out into the traffic.
Inform the appropriate authorities
Riders are expected to inform the appropriate authorities of the incident. Contact the local police department (or, if necessary, 911) and animal control. Failing to report the incident can lead to certain legal ramifications.
When you call the police, simply tell them what has happened, and they will tell you what to do. (The call will also be recorded, which can be used as evidence that you took action.)
Try to get any witnesses
Try to get any witnesses whenever possible. This can help you later if you get into some legal trouble.
Most dog owners will not be interested in the money they can get from their dog getting into an accident but would like to see that the rider is taking some responsibility and not breaking the law. However, some people may try to abuse the system, and because of this, it is generally good to make sure you can prove your innocence.
This is why wearing a helmet cam is always recommended.
Wearing a helmet camera like a GoPro every time you are riding your motorcycle can come in handy in those situations where you get into an accident. In fact, there is a good reason why motorcyclists almost always wear cameras, and it is because it can be used as evidence and video proof of what actually happened. (People are usually a little nicer when they know they are being recorded.)
Inform the owners
Make sure to inform the owners of the incident. You have to understand that the owners may be very shocked and devastated as well, so make sure to remain calm, sympathetic, and understanding.
However, if the owners are particularly aggressive and you feel in danger, you can leave as long as you still inform the authorities of the accident, how the owner reacted, and that you are willing to return to the scene when the police arrive. (This also applies to situations where the dog is too aggressive. You do not have to remain at the scene and risk getting bitten.)
If the owners do not appear to be nearby, check the tags on the dog, or if there are other people nearby, ask them if they know who the owners are.
What to do if the dog bites you?
If the dog bites you, make sure to seek medical attention within 24 hours of the incident and report the incident to the police as well. Dog bites may cause different medical problems, which will not always be obvious.
If you have been bitten by a dog, experts recommend washing the wound with mild soap and some water. Then you can use a clean towel to stop bleeding and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream to the wound. You can use a clean, sterile bandage to wrap your wound and seek medical attention.