Jogging, Running Triggers Dogs’ Prey Instinct

February 23, 2019
On behalf of The Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg Posted in Dog Bite

It seems like every week or so, we hear about a vicious dog attack or dog mauling. Dogs can seemingly go from loving companions to beastly maneaters at the drop of a hat. But why do dogs attack random joggers in the park or non-threatening people running down the street? As it turns out, some dogs just can’t help themselves.

Prey Drive Triggers

While we like to think of dogs as cuddle buddies for curling up in front of the fire while binge-watching TV—and many are regarded as closer to us than our actual human family members—the truth is that down underneath all that fur is just an animal. And animals have animal instincts, some of which are triggered automatically. For runners, joggers, and bikers who have been chased or even attacked by a dog while out in the park or on the sidewalk, the cause is the dog’s animalistic prey drive. Dogs in the wild would have to chase down their prey before it got away, and seeing someone running or a bike whizzing by quickly can trigger that instinct, according to renowned animal trainer Cesar Milan.

Dogs actually become conditioned to this behavior. Initially, the dog just barks at the jogger; this is his way of defending his territory from the encroaching threat. In essence, the dog is warning “Stay away.” When the jogger keeps on running, this reinforces the dog—he believes he is the reason that the jogger kept on running. Over time, this same response will cause dogs to become even bolder, and they may begin to rush toward or chase the jogger. If the excitement becomes overwhelming, the dog may attack the jogger.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

Educating yourself on how to avoid being bitten is important if you run, jog, or bike where dogs share your space. If you find yourself confronted by an aggressive canine, then the number one thing to remember is to remain calm; do not kick or yell at the dog, but avoid direct eye contact. Stand to the side, and remain peripheral vision of the dog. Claim your space; if you are carrying something, position it in front of yourself, since this makes you look bigger and more intimidating. You are, says Cesar Milan, effectively letting the aggressive dog know that you do not want his space, but you want the space that you’re occupying. Once the dog senses that you are not a threat to him and that you don’t feel threatened by him, then the situation can be reversed. In most cases, the dog loses interest and you go about your day, limbs intact.

If you are attacked, don’t try to resist. Try to let the dog attack something on you that is not your body, such as the arm of a sweater or jacket, pulling your arm out while he’s attacking, and slowly backing away. During the attack, protect your throat, chest, and face; when possible, try to keep the dog from biting your thighs, since a wound in that area can cause deadly blood loss. If the dog latches onto your flesh, then don’t resist, but use your other hand at this point to try to lift the dog’s back legs off the ground.

As soon as possible following a dog bite attack, contact our law firm to discuss your case. In California, dog owners are held strictly liable for the injuries their dog causes, provided they did not provoke the dog. Set up your case consultation with our compassionate dog bite lawyer now.


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