Today’s QT comes to us from Premium Member (and a regular correspondent of mine) Greg Titus, an Iowa roadie who admittedly has more dog issues than most roadies based on where he rides. But he’s developed what he believes to be the absolute best deterrent to any feisty, nuisance or attacking dog. He’s also graciously agreed to share with fellow RBR readers his 12-page article with step-by-step instructions on how to make his “dog poppers.”
Note: the article includes a list of other “solutions” Greg’s heard of over the years. He recites them only to shoot them down; please do not take his mentioning of some of the more “noxious” of these as any sort of endorsement. Greg rightly points out that loose dogs are not at fault; their human owners are the real problem. So the dogs do not deserve to be done any real harm unless they are doing real harm to the cyclist. —John Marsh
This is probably not a problem for most roadies out there, but for some of us in rural areas it is: dogs.
A dog coming out onto the road (for any reason) is a real safety hazard for a cyclist. (I had one take me down, causing a fractured collarbone.) I’ve come up with a way to effectively deter dogs that I want to share.
Last night on a group ride I used my technique and one of the guys asked me how to make the “dog poppers.” I had previously prepared a guide for doing just that (a lot of it tongue-in-cheek), so when I emailed it to the group, one of them (an RBR Member) told me to send it in.
Attached is The Dog Popper Guide (about 12 pages). Easy reading, if you have the time.
Here’s the Quick Tip submission:
This is a very effective way to keep dogs away from you when cycling: carry a type of firecracker that detonates when it hits a hard surface. They’re small, light, cheap, and easy to carry in a jersey pocket (search for “adult snap pops” online).
When a dog comes out on the road as you ride by, throw down a “dog popper” and BANG! – it stops him dead in his tracks. He’ll run back to his yard and almost never chases again.
You can glue 2 or more together to make a louder noise. Coat them in beeswax (works better than paraffin) to make them more durable and waterproof. I’ve “trained” approximately 80 dogs this wayover the last few years, and it’s worked better than anything else I’ve tried.
If you have an idea for a QT, fire away. We’re always looking for good info we can share with fellow roadies. We would love to hear from you with any suggestions you have. Contact us by clicking Quick Tips Ideas.
—John Marsh & The RBR Team
Or, instead of carrying small explosives, you can just grab your water bottle and squirt them. Works every time.
I Rely On A Loud Whistle And Pepper Spray for Dogs. After Being Taken Down By A Pit Bull In July 2021, I Now Stop If Necessary During A Dog Attack. Since I Cycle Primarily At 2:00 AM On Rural Roads Here In Texas I Am Concerned A Loud Popper Would Lead The Dog Owner To Believe I was Shooting Their Dog. I Would Probably Get Shot By The Homeowner. Texas Is A Constitutional Carry State So Everybody Carries A Gun.
This Was A Great Topic. I Am Glad Seeing Somebody Else Has Considered Or Is Using Poppers. I Really Enjoy The Comments From Other Cyclists.
Seriously? You’re going to bitch and call the explosives. These things don’t hurt anyone and save lives. Sure you can squirt em, and that will stop it that time. I could as a trainer tl you that instead of squirting them just stop and stand over your bike in a forward position and yell no. Works every time. Which is true. The idea is to stop the pray drive.
But, next person comes down the road and it’s rice and repeat.
What happens when it’s a car behind the cyclist and the dog gets hit and killed?
Or, give them a big enough consiquence that they don’t want to repeat the behaviour, hence saving the life.
Joe Kendrick says
Nah, the act of aiming is a danger to navigating your bike. Or, in ensuring that your aim is good, the dog is too darn close.
Kerry Irons says
Squirting works nearly every time but I have encountered dogs that seemed to be untrainable by any method (never used the poppers so don’t know if that would work). Screaming BAD DOG works pretty well if they get close, and cooing “good doggie” sometimes keeps them in the yard.
larry english says
so you are sprinting for your life,
not watching the road,
trying to outrun a dog that can go 35 mph,
probably yelling at it, bad dog.,
now you take your hands off the bars,
fumble in pocket,
grab one of these tiny things,
throw on the road,
risking balance and slowing down so the dog can catch up,
hoping it doesn;t go off and that your waterproofing etc didn;t disable it…
plus you spent how many hours making the things?
though they do seem like fun to have around
Greg Titus says
You’re not sprinting for your life because you WANT the dog to get near. You simply reach in your jersey pocket, grab a popper (they’re easy to grab, not being ‘tiny”, and wait for the dog to get close enough to throw it down. You can stay well-focused on the road ahead, you don’t have to make a sound (i.e., shout at the dog), can keep one hand on the bars long enough to throw the popper (you can grab a water bottle to take a drink, can’t you?), will not have to even interrupt your cadence through all this, and I’ve only had one dud out of doing this on over 80 dogs. The beeswax coating doesn’t disable it…it protects it nicely (it can go through the wash and still work), and the time it takes to make a batch (about an hour) which will last for a cycling season, is well worth preventing an injury from a dog-caused bike crash.
I tried this years ago and bought them in SD as they are legal there. Kept them in a bag on handle bars. I found throwing them down at the pavement in front of 2 different dogs, just made them bark louder andseem to run faster.
Shouting “Go back” works for me. Much quicker than picking up a water bottle, too.
David Stihler says
I’ve encountered some ferocious dogs in the Santa Cruz Mountains who will tear you apart – speeding up to outrun them too dangerous – When I see a dog waiting to tangle, I dismount from the bike and hold it between the dog and me – I have successfully held off a pitbull and german shepard who wanted to kill me – they try to circle you but having your bike between you and the dog makes it impossible for them to get you – this works for mountain lions too!!! – I do yell “Go Home” and lots of dogs seem to respond to that – when you are off the bike it confuses them and they soon get bored and relax and leave
Dan Boice (SE Arkansas) says
I’ve had some success with pepper spray, but it doesn’t work in any kind of wind, and the dog has to be behind you. Running along side and you’re S.O.L. Yelling hasn’t worked. So I’ll give these a try!
you must be aware of the bad influencing pepper spray on dogs
Kirk Carbo says
Check with your local animal control agency. Even where there are no leash laws, usually it is illegal for a dog to leave its’ yard. Where I live, as soon as a dog sets foot in the street, I can file a complaint with animal control and they will issue a warning to the owner. Upon the third incident, they will pick up the animal and there is a fine to pay. I’ve done this a couple of times and in both instances, the dog was never seen chasing in the street again after the first call. Doing it this way benefits the entire community.
Fletcher Scott says
Without a doubt this is the best method of dealing with a mean dog. But where I live, leash laws only apply in the city limits. After some time, you can get cooperation from the homeowner by using animal control to tell them the law. In the county, which I also ride through, dogs can run at large. There is a county nuisance law, that can be used against a dog owner. It is sometimes vague and unclear what that means. What really bothers me is you can’t be proactive. You almost have to let the dog bite you before the law takes it seriously. This is a deal breaker for me. I’ll shoot a dog dead before I let one bite me. I have the right to defend myself in such a way as told to me by the police. But doing this, makes you terribly vulnerable. I still want a deterrent that I can bet my life on. Does
A shot of bear spray in the face quickly taught a local dog (that harassed us every time we rode by on our Saturday ride route) to keep his distance. He now keep a safe distance away from us while still barking and chasing.
tony m says
John said it best. Most dogs have [u]some[/u] kind of training and will at least hesitate, if not stop completely, when a command is shouted at them. A simple “No”, “Stay” or “Bad dog” usually slows them down enough for you to escape. You probably can’t outrun them, but if you make them hesitate, you’ll throw off the intercept angle that they naturally calculate and you can make your getaway
Frank Mlinar says
I tend to have conversations with dogs…
Squirting them DOES NOT work every time. Holding the bike as defense only works if you can dismount before the dog gets to you. Bear spray is by far the best but it’s awkward to carry and you have to be able to get to it quickly. The majority of my dog encounters the only chance I have is to sprint as hard as I can while yelling “get back”. Sometimes they stop or peel off but usually the yelling seems to confuse them just enough that I can out run them.
Greg Titus says
for Larry English…with dog poppers, you’re not sprinting for your life. You just ride on comfortably waiting for the dog to get close enough. You keep one hand on the bars, calmly reach into a jersey pocket and grab a popper, then throw it down. No aiming, you keep control of the bike, don’t have to slow down or even look at the dog, and the wax coating doesn’t disable the popper. If you glue 2 or more together, they’ll go off every time, and with the coating, they’re not as small as what’s in the photo in the Guide that’s linked in the beginning of the QT. Hey, it’s just a suggestion. Had I known about it sooner, I would have prevented getting a broken collarbone.
At different times I’ve tried them all except the horn. All mentioned will not work all of the time. My best all around results comes from rat-shot. Unfortunately not a legal solution everywhere.
Love the poppers! Couldn’t they be a potential wildfire hazard in the summer? Have tried all of the above, and settled on pepper spray – mounts easily under the water bottle cage, using a tire pump clamp. stays locked, cocked and ready to go.
I live in a rural area where our group often encounters dogs. While the rest of the group sprints off furiously – I just throw in a few zig-zags. It forces the dog to “recalculate” their course, often at high speed. This seems to confuse them and they usually give up quickly. Never had a problem yet. Just make surethe road is clear if you are crossing into the other lane.
unless it’s a greyhound, no dog is going to run 35 mph. nevertheless, carrying party poppers
on your ride is the dumbest fucking advice ever!
Greg Titus says
Thanks for your gracious comment about the dog popper idea. Yes, very dumb advice that works for me at least 98% of the time. Glad you gave it a try so you know from first hand experience what a dumb idea it is. Kudos!
Agreed. No need for profanity and insults. If someone doesn’t like the idea, just don’t use it and use your own methods and/or suggest to the readers other alternatives.
Big Ring Bob says
And just how many of us to you think can do 35 mph on our bikes?
Hi, I was just wondering if this process could be made eaiser by putting the poppers in a cylinder mold and pouring the wax over it.
richard staudinger says
Calling animal control in Sacramento CA is a waste of time. Pit bulls chase me on every 3 rd ride in my area. They should be outlawed.
Preston Garrard says
I carry a baseball bat and when a dog comes after me I stop and hold the bat in the air and scream and the dog leaves.