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Why do dogs attack runners and joggers?

Nothing ruins your evening run like being bitten by a dog. In rare cases, this can be fatal. However, even minor bite injuries can leave you in the hospital, perhaps needing significant treatment to prevent the injuries from having a lasting impact on your life.

But why do dogs attack runners and joggers? There are a few reasons, but one is that people moving quickly kicks the dog into predator and prey mode. Dogs love to chase down prey, and they’ll do it instinctively.

At the same time, the dog will try to bark and scare the jogger away. It feels that the person is aggressively moving into its territory.

If joggers just continue on when this happens, dogs often feel like they have “won” the encounter. The dog thinks it scared the jogger away — even if the jogger was wearing headphones and barely heard the dog.

This just reinforces what the dog already thinks: The humans are trying to invade the territory and that it needs to bark and frighten them off. Eventually, dogs can become more and more worked up. When a jogger doesn’t leave or continues getting closer and closer, the dog may feel like it’s about to lose the encounter. As a final effort to scare off the invader, it will bite.

Of course, dog owners need to know how this works and keep their dogs chained up or fenced in so that they don’t attack people who are not invading but are just jogging down public roads and sidewalks. It’s not the dogs’ fault that they respond that way, but owners can’t be negligent and allow injuries to happen. If they do, those who are hurt may be able to seek compensation.

Source: Cesar’s Way, “When dogs attack,” Jon Bastian, accessed Feb. 15, 2017

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