Does pepper spray or mace work on dogs?

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 11 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #6114


    Ok so for a while now there is this house that I run by that has this dog that runs out barking and chases me trying to bite my legs.  It freaks me out because I  fear being mauled by a random dog.  It kind of angers me as well.  Here I am just running not bothering anyone or on anyones property. I am just peacefully running on the road and then all of a sudden I hear barking and dog just comes running from some house to chase me.  Isn't there a leash law?  Boy those people would be in big trouble if there dog hurts someone.  I mean come on its a somewhat residential area too.  How can you let your dog run wild like this? 

    I have decided to next time carry mace or pepper spray next time just in case.  Is this stuff effective against dogs?  Don't get me wrong I like dogs but if one is charging at me chasing me trying to bite me then I am not going to feel bad using the spray. 

    Has anyone ever used mace or pepper spray on a dog that was chasing you during a run?  if so does it work to get them away from you?

    Thank you

  • #22651


    Yes, it works on dogs. Just ask nearly any police officer or postal worker. Many in either of those lines of work have had to use pepper spray on dogs. In fact, I have a canister of pepper spray bought at a pet store that is specifically marketed toward people having trouble with dogs. It burns their faces just like it burns the faces of people. Just make sure you are spraying downwind and you get a good shot straight in the dog's face.

    Also, have you reported this dog to the police? If it is this consistently a problem, a few reports to the police and they would likely at least have a discussion with the owner.

  • #22652


    I cna understand where you are coming from. This sounds like one of those owners who doesn't care until somthing happens. Using mace is a good idea, but you don't want to make the owner mad and cause a problem, and I am thinking along the lines of a personal safety issue. If you are running by a house and a dog starts chasing you, slow down and walk…9 out of 10 times the dog will stop. When I am outside with my dog, if I start running, she'll chase me and go for my legs, when I stop, she stops. By the way, I am not saying don't carry the mace…which leads me to my next point…

    If you are out running, and a “Pit Bull” starts chasing you, do the same as above, stop. Of course have your mace ready. If the pit bull does not stop, obviously spray it. However, this might not do the trick…mean pit bulls are NASTY. Now, I know this is mean, and I DO NOT want to provoke this, this is a last resort. If a pit bull or any other large dog has a hold of you, find a way to a hold of it's neck, and snap it. If they have a hold of you and are not letting go, THEY MEAN TO HURT YOU…You cannot be replaced, a dog can. Again, this is cruel, and I am sorry fot that. But in my eyes, my life comes first.


  • #22653


    If you are running by a house and a dog starts chasing you, slow down and walk…9 out of 10 times the dog will stop.

    That's a great solution except for a couple of things:

    1) With how irresponsible/inconsiderate dog owners are getting these days, you'd have to stop every block or two or, if you run in a park like one I do, you'd have to stop several times every time you enter the park. It shouldn't be the runner's responsibility to ruin one's own training due to a dog owner who doesn't care. The runner should keep running and use whatever self defense necessary unless continuing to run would present a hazard to the runner that the runner does not want to bear, in which case the police should be alerted immediately.

    2) It doesn't get to the root of the problem. Not saying pepper spray is the best way to do this but, if it's necessary, not only does it take care of the immediate threat but it usually also gets the message across to the owner that there are repercussions to their irresponsibility. Dog owners whose dogs get pepper sprayed nearly always keep better control of their dogs in the future. Of course, a call (or a few) to the police can produce the same results in a more humane way.

  • #22654


    I totally understand that…what I was getting at was that if you are running and a dog chases you, especially a big dog, and get a hold of you and is not letting go and is causing you bodily harm…the police are not going to do a thing, unless an officer is right there and see's it happen. But I do agree with calling the police first if the dog hasn't actually hurt you. Agian, I am mainly talking about pit bulls…and it's not a stereotype. My friend is a cop, and every time he has been called for a violent dog, etc. the type of dog was almost always a pit bull.

    I can also see where you are coming from with the whole stopping thing…that would be a pain.

  • #22655


    Yes, pit bulls are definitely nothing to be messing with. If I encountered a pit bull chasing me, I'd either stop or find something very tall that I could climb very quickly. I don't mess with those things or any other breed or individual dog I feel could be dangerous. Of course, if it were a pit bull, I'd also be calling the police first chance I get because a loose pit bull is definitely something law enforcement should be notified of.

    However, I mostly encounter labs chasing me, sometimes retrievers or other hunting/herding dogs, not guard/attack dogs. While these dogs can be a pain, I don't see my life flash before my eyes when I see one coming at me. Usually, I'm more considering how to beat it back (rocks and small branches are nice to have handy if you don't have pepper spray) while also preparing to avoid getting jumped on and knocked down or tripped.

    I'm also harping on the “contact the police” thing because of the repeat occurrences. This is obviously a repeat leash law violator. The police should have little trouble catching the person breaking the leash law and should be able to act upon that pretty easily.

  • #22656


    oh yah, deff. call the police, i am not saying not to. sry if i came across like that.

  • #22657


    Is mace still illegal in Wisconsin?  If not wich is the more effective of the two; mace or pepper spray?

  • #22658


    I'm not sure which is more effective but I've seen (and felt) pepper spray in action. It will keep all but trained attack dogs at bay without problem. I don't think anything but a bullet between the eyes will keep a trained attack dog at bay so more than pepper spray is probably overkill.

  • #22659


    Excellent – I also read that you do not have to be inches away fro it to be effective.  My concern was in the effectiveness and proximity issues.  But from what I read, a foot or two can usually still yield an effective response. 

  • #22660


    Most sprays will give you a pretty steady stream for at least a few feet and even a light mist can be enough to deter some animals. Actually, it's not a bad idea to give a bottle a trial spray before using it anyway. Find a place away from people and animals (or downwind from all people and animals) and spray a little shot downwind from yourself. You should see a pretty strong stream that can give you at least a few feet in distance.

    If you have to use it on a dog or any other target, try to avoid spraying into the wind. Try to get yourself upwind from the target before spraying if possible. That stuff will burn your face even if a little mist is picked up by the wind and blown back at you.

  • #22661


    Is mace still illegal in Wisconsin?  If not wich is the more effective of the two; mace or pepper spray?

    I think they both might be illegal????  But bear spray is legal…heck I don't care if it is or isn't, I have it.  I accidently sprayed it in my house once, I had to leave for a few hours…..nasty.

  • #22662


    Sue, pepper spray is most definitely legal in Wisconsin. In fact, Pski who hasn't posted here a lot recently is a police officer and has strongly encouraged me to use pepper spray. Also, the fact that you can walk into a pet store or outdoors store should make it pretty clear that it is legal. In fact, isn't bear spray just a branded version of pepper spray?

    It is illegal over certain concentrations but the legal concentration is plenty to do the job.

  • #22663


    Hi all,

    I am a dog lover and dog owner. Heck I am a Practice Manager in a Vet Hospital.
    But I sure agree with Ryan on many dog owners.
    I am not at all afraid of dogs, but I do not trust a loose one for a minute. I carry pepper spray or a product called Halt. Same as pepper spray you can get in pet stores.
    That being said I have no other words of wisdom to stop dogs from chasing us.


    If a pit bull or any other large dog has a hold of you, find a way to a hold of it's neck, and snap it. If they have a hold of you and are not letting go, THEY MEAN TO HURT YOU…You cannot be replaced, a dog can. Again, this is cruel, and I am sorry fot that. But in my eyes, my life comes first

    I agree a Pitbull is bad news, when they bite, they bite to hang on and not let go until they “win”.  Pitbulls lock on.
    Most dogs hit and run so to speak.
    I am not sure many people would be able to snap a dog's neck. Especially a big muscular Pitbull.
    I have to say if I encountered a Pitbull, yes I would climb a tree or something and hope it leaves.

    I was heading up a trail in town one day and a Rottie was trotting towards me…..I knew I could not outrun it, or “fight back”. I was lucky I went on someone fenced yard and shut the gate until it left. That gets your heart race as much as a fast workout!


  • #22664


    I carried pepper spray on a run once intending to use it on a persistently annoying dog, but wind and the dog's wariness rendered it innefective. Since it is almost always windy in Kansas, I have never carried pepper spray again.

    After reading this, I did a google search for “runner and dog” and found a few articles. Most of them were less aggressive in their approach than I am with some suggesting stopping your workout to deal with every dog. As I see it, a runner should have two goals in an encounter with a dog. The first is to avoid being attacked or bitten and the second is to minimize the impact to your workout.

    I have a few different tactics for dealing with dogs. The first priority is that the dog respect your space. If they are not in your space they will not impede your run and they cannot bite or hurt you. Most of these tactics are aimed at keeping the dogs at bay preferrably off of the road.

    Tactic 1 is to intimidate. I do this by speaking gruffly, yelling and/or raising my arms up and away from my body to look bigger.

    Tactic 2 is to run directly at the dog — picking up speed or sprinting if possible. You may have to stop and run back toward them for a few steps. It is important when employing this tactic not to run onto their property. On a couple of occasions, I have had the satisfaction of seeing a dog who had entered the road tuck its tail and run home. Usually, they just stop and bark from a safe distance.

    Tactic 3 is to pick up a rocks to thow or a stick to brandish. I would prefer a stick as I feel a stick would be more effective at keeping a dog at bay and rocks can be quickly exhausted. I would employ the stick in more of a poking or jabbing action to keep it between myself and the dog, but if I were attacked, I wouldn't hesitate to use it like a club. Rocks are more plentiful on the gravel roads where I run. It is not necessary to throw the rocks hard or even to hit the dog. (I have poor aim — especially since I usually try to keep running as I throw.) Just throwing the rocks will make most dogs more wary and give you some space. I once hit a dog with a rock that I flicked to the side without slowing my forward progress. (I had picked up the rock earlier when I saw the dog step into the road ahead of me.) There is no way that the rock had enough impetus to cause real damage, but the dog was startled and scrambled back into its yard. The great thing was that the next time I ran that way, the dog did not even enter the road.

    Tactic 4 is to stop, walk, and speak placatingly until I am out of their territory and they stop following me. An old coach told me that dogs like words with “th” sounds and to say phrases like “that's a good dog”. I also read in an article that it is good to smile and to avoid eye contact. Don't turn your back. Most dogs won't risk a frontal attack.

    Okay there are my tactics. I employ them in differnt combinations with different situations or different dogs.

    For friendly, playful dogs, it is generally only necessary to use tactic 1 with perhaps a bit of tactic 2 to chase them back into their yard. The other danger from these dogs is that they might try to follow you. If that happens, I have thrown rocks at them to dissuade them though the phrase, “This is going to hurt you more than it does me” comes to mind. I really do like dogs, but I know that it is safer for them if they stay at home. While living in town, I have had dogs follow me all the way back to my car or all the way home. I'd rather feel a little guilty about having thrown some rocks.

    Then, there are the barking dogs. Some of these stay off the road and may chase you while remaining on their property. For these, I do nothing. Others come into the road and perhaps will run right at your heels. For these, I try tactics 1 & 2, and if those don't work, I resort to picking up some gravel to throw and keep them at bay. Some of these may be somewhat aggressive, but they are not so serious about it as the next group and I can keep them at bay long enough to get past their “territory” without walking.

    For truly aggressive, intimidating dogs, I have to resort to tactic 4. I would also consider going a different direction. Although my workout is important, it is not worth injury. I will pick up rocks, but what I really want to find is a stout stick. I definitely do not turn my back on them. Even after they stop following me, I run backwards for a bit and I give a few backward glances after I do turn around. When I lived in town, I once had a boxer that was so aggressive each time I would turn around to run, it would come after me again even after I was well away from its house. The only warning was the sound of it's claws on the sidewalk. (I am glad it didn't stay in the grass as it ran.) A passing motorist saw my predicament and gave me a ride around the corner. I have never met a more aggressive dog.

    Finally, there is the danger of dogs in packs. I am not sure how to define a pack. For my purposes, “pack” would describe their behavior more than their numbers. I can often run past groups of non-aggressive dogs using tactics 1-3. It is only when one of the dogs is really aggressive or tries to get behind you and herd you toward the others that it becomes a pack. This behavior can be very dangerous. I immediately resort to tactic #4 in this case. In one case, I was a bit nervous, but not really fearful. There were 3-4 dogs with one large Saint Bernard. None were particularly aggressive, but one smaller dog kept trying to get behind me. I walked carefully to the other side of their property where I could continue my run. In another instance, there were several dogs in a field, and one came charging me very aggressively and the others followed. Since they were in an open field, I couldn't tell which direction was the shortest path out of their territory. Otherwise, I might have returned the way that I came. As it was, I believe that I was slightly past them on the road and I carefully continued in my current direction thowing rocks and looking for a nice stick until they finally stopped following. In that instance, I was definitely afraid and although I have sometimes run on that road again, I usually pick up a stick or a handful of rocks before I get near that field. I had run there several times without encountering those dogs and I've never seen them again since.

    After you've had an encounter with dogs, you have to decide if it is worthwhile to run that route again. The best solution might be to avoid the confrontation altogether. There is one stretch of road that I avoid nowdays because there is a dog that — although not particularly aggressive — is very persistent. That dog runs at my heels, barking incessantly. It's a black lab and the contrast of it's white teeth flashing against it's dark muzzle combined with the incessant barking is very unnerving. That dog will sometimes follow like that for up to 1/2 mile depending upon when it spots me. I eventually decided that stretch of road is not worth it. I have hit that dog hard in the hip with a rock once, but that only made it more wary of any changes in pace or sudden movements.

    On another note, if I see a dog in the road ahead who is not aware of my presence, I will generally make some noise so that I do not startle them when I get near. Also, for extremely obese dogs or dogs that don't notice me until I am nearly past their property, I will generally just race them to the edge of their property. I suppose someday I will be slower and I will have to deal with them too.

    The tactics above are what I employ when owners are not present. I am not likely to throw rocks at dogs if the owners are present – though I would likely pick up a stick if one were available and use it to force dogs to keep their distance. Owners are only helpful if their dogs are well-trained. Otherwise, they tend to muddle the process. When dogs are not directly impeding my progress, I generally do not go out of my way to help the dog owner get control of their dogs unless for some reason I like that particular dog or owner. Another note about owners is that sometimes dogs who have been unaggressive toward you in the past will become protective and aggressive if their owners are out in the yard.

    If you actually are attacked by a dog, I have read that if a dog bites, you should not pull away, but press into the bite. Pulling away will cause more damage to you as the dog's teeth are curved inward and pulling away will tear your flesh. Pushing inward may confuse or frighten the dog into letting go. Struggling will also prolong the attack. It is also recommended to drop and curl up to protect your face and head. Most dogs will give up once the struggle ends and they've “won”. That's what the experts say. I do not know if I could bring myself to employ the curl-up-like-a-rock tactic. In my situation, I may be far from home and if the dog's owners aren't home, there may be no one near enough to give assistance. Of course, if it were a situation where I simply couldn't win, that might be my only choice.

    Running in the country, I consider dealing with dogs a necessary skill, but in town, dogs should be confined or restrained. I agree that the police should deal with unruly owners.

    By the way, I thought that blackdog was brillant when she went inside someone's fence to escape a dog. That was quick thinking and it is definitely something to keep in mind. I assume that she was able to ascertain that there were no dogs inside the fence first.

  • #22665


    A lot of good advice, ksrunner. I've also frequently seen the “stop running every time you see a loose dog” advice. The only thing I can say is I don't want to walk for half of my run. No, I'm not stopping for every loose dog I see.

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