Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pop quiz for the pet people: Runner vs. dog walker

I almost titled this post "Runner vs. dog," but then when I thought about it, I certainly can't hold my four-footed fellow trail trotters responsible for what is really bad behavior going on at the other end of the leash.

So here's my question for those of you who have dogs.

Say you're out walking your dog on a running/bike trail and you see a person jogging towards you. Fido has a history of getting spunky when squirrels scurry in his direction, and the woman headed your way is in head to toe slate-colored Spandex; she could easily be mistaken for a gigantic, 5 foot, 4 inch squirrel (she even has that bushy ponytail sticking out of her cap.)

Do you:

A) Hold the leash a bit more tightly to prevent Fido from lunging after Squirrel-Girl
B) Tell Squirrel-Girl that she'd better watch out; Fido is up for a good chase
C) Do absolutely nothing. If Fido wants to chase/gnaw at Squirrel-Girl, that's her problem. If she doesn't like dogs, she can just go run in the street.

I don't have a dog myself. But being the kind of parent who prevents my kids from hurling Saltines at other diners when we're out at restaurants, I tend to think that if I were a "fur mama," I'd be of the curb-my-dog, A or at least B variety.

In my few years of running multiple times per week, I find that most dog owners are As. I might have met a handful of Bs. I didn't even know Cs existed till this morning, when I ended up running into a bush to avoid becoming a chew toy.

But maybe I'm wrong to think the Cs are doing anything wrong. I really don't know what the etiquette is here. Maybe all runners (and walkers, and bikers) are supposed to yield to dogs, or assume that they are prone to chasing and steer clear. What's your experience been?


  1. I generally find that dogs on leashes are fine. In my neighborhood people tend to let their dogs out to roam on early Saturday mornings. I guess they think no one is out. When they run toward me I just stop. dead still. They tend to stop too and look at me like "why are we stoping? weren't we running?" and then I do what I can to get them to go back to their yard. Usually walking slowly away so I don't look interesting. or tasty.

  2. That's kind of a bummer when you're out for a run! I must have been bitten by a dog in a previous life; I'd be freaked out by unleashed dogs headed towards me!