Runner Bit By Dog–What to do

My favorite new runner got bit by a dog this weekend.

dog bite runner

My mom was bit by a dog on Saturday. She was out running her usual route (the same route we walk the dogs, so we are very familiar) and out of no where a dog ran out of a house and bit her on the leg. (She gave me permission to use this photo and share this story.)

My old neighborhood (where my mom was running) does sometimes have dogs out so we are very cautious. Whenever we are walking or running we are always scanning the area to check for loose dogs. My mom was carrying dog spray in her pocket. But, the dog ran up and immediately bit her – there was no warning.

I’m very upset about this because it’s my mom, hello. This is my WORST FEAR with running outside (yes, I am more afraid of dog attacks than people attacks, seriously).

She is okay and wanted me to pass on the message as a reminder to all outside exercisers. So, today we’re having a refresher on how to avoid dog bites and what to do if you get bit.

What to do if you get bit by a dog:

From Pet Web MD

      • Place a clean towel over the injury to stop any bleeding.
      • Try to keep the injured area elevated.
      • Wash the bite carefully with soap and water.
      • Apply a sterile bandage to the wound.
      • Apply antibiotic ointment to the injury every day to prevent infection.

Also – you need to find out if the dog is up to date on all their vaccinations!

The owner ran out when my mom screamed and she was able to find out that he was up to date on rabies shots.

How to Prevent Getting Bit By a Dog:

From Cesar Milan When Dogs Attack

If you are confronted by an aggressive dog, the most important thing to remember is this: Stay calm. Don’t give in to fear or anxiety, and don’t start yelling or kicking at the dog. An aggressive dog wants you to be stressed out before it attacks, but if you remain calm and in control, it slows them down and throws them off.

Also avoid direct eye contact with an aggressive dog. Stand slightly sideways (which also makes you a narrower target) while keeping the dog in your peripheral vision.

Once you have successfully used calm assertive energy to keep that dog back, claim your own space. If you happen to be carrying anything in your hands, like a cane or an umbrella, place it out in front of yourself to appear bigger and be more in command of your space.

What this tells the dog with your body language is, “I don’t want your space, I just want this space that I am in.” Maintain your very calm and assertive state; this energy creates a barrier that automatically demands the dog’s respect by letting it know that you are not afraid.

When the dog senses that you aren’t threatening it — and are not threatened by it — it will probably lose interest and the situation will de-escalate. Unfortunately, though, this process is not always possible.

Other Resources:

From the ASPCA Dogs Chasing Runners

From Runner’s World Mean Dogs Bite 

Let’s end this on a lighter note…

beware of dog

Winner of the Cascadian Farm Giveaway is Alison P. I’m emailing her now.

Question: Do you have a dog? Cat? Llama??


  1. says

    Did she try running faster than the dog? What about shouting “No! Bad dog! No!”? What about playing possum (which works really well when attacked by possums)?

  2. says

    I have been running for 14 years now, and just got attacked by a dog while running for the first time last year. It was a large German Shepherd that was on a leash (thankfully), but he saw me running, jumped up on me and bit me on the chin pretty badly.

    I was nervous to run outside for awhile, but now I am just extra careful when I see a dog walking, and if I ever see a dog that’s not on a leash, I usually turn around. Also, I’m very aware of my surroundings at all times, so if a dog does come at me, I can know exactly where to run toward if I have enough time.

    On a lighter note, I have two amazing labs who have helped restore my great love for pups. They would probably lick a runner to death if they could. :)

  3. says

    I have a chocolate lab. He is never out alone and ALWAYS on a lease except in our fenced yard or the dog park. I understand sometimes dogs get out, but owners need to be responsible for their dogs. I’m glad the owner came out of the house and I hope helped your mom.

  4. Kelli says

    We always have loose dogs and our dog so not “dog friendly” so we are always breaking up fights so irresponsible of owners! Glad your mom is ok!

  5. says

    Oh my gosh, this is terrifying! I have actually never thought about getting bit by a dog while running (I’m always more concerned about getting hit by a car…) but now it’s going to be top of mind. I’m glad your mom is okay and that you posted this as a reminder!

  6. says

    I have 5 dogs (including my foster dog) and a cat. I think what happened to your mom totally sucks. I’ve been threatened by dogs but never bit. One time a loose dog barked at my alarmingly so I just ran faster. The other time a (large) dog charged out of a house when I had two of my (small) dogs with me. The owner yelled “he’s friendly” but his bark said otherwise. I picked up my little ones; I’d rather the dog attack me than my babies.
    Your tips are great; I hope the dog’s owner offered to call for medical attention for you mom.

  7. says

    This happened to me this past summer. I was out for a run in the same park I run in every morning. I came to a y intersection in the path and the owner of the dog went one way and his dog came straight for me and bit me. There was no time to prepare for it or do anything to dissuade it. I am not the biggest dog fan to begin with so this really has tested me.

    I look across the whole park before entering and watch for dog owners that have their dogs off leash (even though it is against the law in that park)

    I was so upset after this happened, and I still get slight anxiety running through that park.

  8. says

    so basically I shouldn’t be running up to strange dogs and wanting to cuddle? Am I thinking this out right?
    My running fears: 1) Muggers. 2) Cars. 3) Deserted trails where no one will ever find my body when I get injured and am unable to get home. 4) Chafing. Maybe that should come first.

  9. april says

    i’m always cautious of people when i’m out on walks/runs, but i’ve never considered the fact that i could just as easily be attacked by a dog. yikes, that is so scary, but i’m glad your mom is okay. thank you for this reminder!

    i have 2 dogs (a dachshund and a lab/terrier mix puppy), but they’re always on their leashes while outside… plus they’re small, cute, and harmless :)

  10. Jackie says

    Wow! That stinks! I’ve never been bitten by a dog but there are a couple on my routes that scare me. I usually run with my dog, who wouldn’t hurt a flea, so sometimes I worry more about her than me! I’ve taken more that one irresponsible dog owner to task. Like duh! Don’t walk with your ear buds in and your dog off lead! And I HATE invisible fences. How do I know that that fiercely barking dog isn’t afraid of a little shock?

  11. says

    That’s terrible! I’m so sorry! :-(

    This is my husband’s worst fear when he’s out running or when we take an evening stroll. I think it’s because he was bitten by a dog when he was younger. I’m not very afraid and I think the fact that I’m calm around dogs that are wound up keeps the situation from getting worse. Of course, there will always be dogs that bite no matter what. Thank you for posting this. Will definitely share with my husband!

  12. Charliemac1000 says

    I’m really sorry to hear what happened to your Mum. What an awful experience.

    I’m with the other comments – I hope the owner offered to call for medical assistance… Also, as I’m not in the US and Rabies REALLY scares me… Would it not be prudent to go to the doctors either way? I wouldn’t be taking the word of the dogs owner that their shots are up-to-date.

    – Just looking out for your Mum! :)

  13. Alex says

    I would like to start by stating that I love dogs and have one of my own. However, I have been bitten by dogs twice and chased by dogs of all different kinds of sizes numerous times.

    My opinion is that if owners were more responsible and either kept their dogs on a leash or in a confined area, these attacks would not happen.

    I hope your mom isn’t too traumatized by her attack.

    • Jen says

      I totally agree with Alex.

      I have three dogs of my own and it makes me so sad to hear these negative stories about dog bites, because really the owner is at fault for not keeping their dogs under control. That said, there is always a chance one of my dogs could get out and bite someone, even though I’m pretty sure all they would dole out is doggie kisses. As a dog owner, I understand that what they do is my responsibility. Like Alex said, if more dog owners were responsible, this stuff wouldn’t happen so often. :(

      Hope your mom’s wound heals quickly!

  14. Katie says

    Super super scary, I was attacked by a huge German Shepard 9 years ago and still avoid running outside alone in the suburbs if I can. I actually saw the dog charging and just stood still in hopes that he would leave me alone and ended up with 8 bites on one leg, two on the other and puncture wounds on my wrist and all that with the owner running after him to try to stop him. I am going to look into the dog spray, didn’t even know it existed! It is really sad that owners are not more watchful over their dogs, especially if they know that they are aggressive. I am glad your Mom is ok and thanks for posting the tips!

  15. says

    Yikes! That’s always scary, and I’m so glad that your mom is okay. I have a dog, but she loves people (only thing you’ll suffer is getting her spit all over your face). But she’s super scared of other dogs… which makes sense because some of the dogs in our neighborhood act as watch dogs and they bark all mean and scary.

  16. Suzanne says

    That’s so scary! I’m glad your mom is ok.
    It happened to my husband a few months ago and the bite marks were pretty significant but not too deep. He was running in the woods near our house, far from his car, without a cell phone. A mistake I think he made was not making noise or alerting the dogs/owner to his approach. The dog startled and instinctively jumped up and bit him. That was the end of it. Of course, the owner didn’t have his phone or ID and there were no witnesses. I don’t know if he verified about the rabies shots. It was completely ridiculous.
    I have been chased by a couple and nipped by the teeniest dog ever. If people would keep them on leash like they are supposed to, dog attacks won’t happen in these cases. They’re still an animal, and I don’t think you should 100% trust even the most seemingly docile pet.

  17. Natalie in uk says

    That is my pet hate about running. Uncontrolled dogs. People get really offended when I get annoyed about their dog jumping up on me when it’s not on a lead. I wouldn’t let my children jump on people, rip their clothes and bite them so why do some dog owners feel they can stand there and say “it’s ok he’s just being friendly” when their dog has left slobber all over my clothes and caused me to stop in my tracks. I must admit I’ve only encountered dogs running out of houses when I’ve run on vacation in Florida. That is really scary. I could rant all day on this topic.

  18. says

    How awful. I hope it doesn’t put your Mum off of running.
    I’ve had dogs chase me a few times whilst out on runs although luckily I’ve never been bitten. The best advice I got was to stop running and make yourself seem boring to the dog, not something fun and exciting to chase.

  19. Cortney says

    My GMA was out on her walk with her very tiny dog and was attacked. She went face down over he dog to protect her face and he dog. It saved her. She was bitten very badly on her arm and was hospitalized for IV antibiotics and wound care but is not okay. Unfortunately, it was the owers fault. The dog was know as aggressive and was not on a leash. The owner was fined and cited and my GMA is now fine! Scary stuff!!

  20. says

    Ugh I hope she is OK. This is my biggest fear too, even when I pass dogs on leashes on my running path in my community- I veer off the path a bit to steer clear of them completely. And when there is a person that allows their dog to walk unleashed in my community? I report them because it is just not OK.

  21. says

    OMG so glad your mom was okay! Loose dogs scare me too! A huge pet peeve of mine is when owners let their dogs off the leash where I run (leashes are required). I don’t care if the dog is super well trained or whatever, you cannot predict their behavior and you never know if/when they will feel threatened.

  22. Melisa says

    Your poor mom. I’ve been attacked by dogs while running on 2 separate occasions.
    I love animals and all but dog owners need to keep their pet under control. period. I get pretty ticked off when they get offend when I ask them do so.

  23. says

    oh my gosh that is horrible and seriously my worst nightmare…besides having a creepy runner following.

    I have a cockapoo puppy named Loki…while we were out walking a few weeks ago another dog attacked him as we were passing. I picked Loki up as fast as I could, but my hand got in the way and the other dog ended up biting me. The owner was super apologetic, but it annoys me that they didn’t have better control over their dog.

  24. says

    ouchie! Sorry about your mom’s boo boo! That’s so scary. In NYC the leash laws are really strict but there have been a few times while running dogs have got loose and run toward me. So far none have been aggressive. Most just wanted to run and be with me. Hey! Maybe their owners need to get them a little more exercise?! =)
    I have a dog. A sweet little labradoodle named Duncan. He has barked at strangers before but has NEVER bitten anyone. He was the victim of a bite once at the dog park. Had to get a staple to close the wound. Poor pup. I still feel guilty to this day.
    The one very important thing is to not make eye contact. It really does help.
    on a side note I LOVE LLAMAS! My friends used to call me Sally-LLAMA (like Dalilama).

  25. Steph F. says

    Oh, no! I’m glad your mom is o.k. I was bitten on the leg while running by a large Husky, and am definitely now very fearful when I see unleashed dogs. In fact, I’ll just go ahead and admit it…I don’t like dogs, I don’t want to pet peoples’ dogs, and I really resent it when my run is interrupted by a frolicking dog, no matter how friendly it is. We have leash laws for a reason and it really angers me when people don’t obey them. Oh, and yes, as you might have guessed…I’m a cat owner :)

  26. says

    I run on country roads where no one owns a fence, but everyone owns a dog… I can’t tell you how many dogs run out to me every time. There’s one house with pit bulls though that LUCKILY have tied up, but I have my mace ready when I run past that house.

  27. Sarah G. says

    I’m so sorry for your mom! Dog bites/attacks are my biggest fear, too. After being chased by two very disgruntled rottweilers in my neighborhood last summer, I am super paranoid about any and all loose animals when out running. Even if I carried dog spray, I doubt I could ever get it out in time to prevent a bite (like in your mom’s case) and even if I did, I wonder if a large dog would even be deterred by it? Anyhow, glad she is okay and I hope this doesn’t stop her from running!

  28. Kendra says

    I hope your Mom feels better!!
    You also ALWAYS file a police report about a dog bite. Even though the owner says they are up to date, you have no way to verify this. The police will verify the rabies status of the animal and keep the report on record. This is important because there could be a dangerous bite history with this dog, or history of poor ownership by the human. The human should be help responsible for not controlling their dog by keeping it on a leash or in a fenced yard.

    • Stefanie E. says

      Ditto to this!!!! I didn’t notice anyone commenting but it’s important in case it’s happened before to other people. Also it’s important to get the name, address, license and insurance info (often covered under HO policies) from the owners. Often out of shock/panic, ppl forget these things but they can be pretty important especially if the bite was pretty bad. Hope your mom is okay!

  29. says

    I have two little chihuahuas and I was mortified last summer when my boy pup got out of the yard and chased down a runner! I see her running in our neighborhood all the time and she ran alongside our fence, which I think scared my dog. He is NOT aggressive at all, but definitely protective of his home and owners. He was yipping at her ankles but luckily didn’t bite and I just COULD NOT believe that he did it! I mean, he’s been to races of mine with my husband so is familiar with runners and he’s never gotten out of the yard before (he found a hole in the fence that we fixed right away). Sorry for your mom!

  30. Nicole says

    I was bitten by a dog while running…he was coming back for another bite when I ran into another yard where some workers were and they scared the dog away. Now whenever I hear dogs barking when I’m running I stop in my tracks to make sure they aren’t loose…I also have dog spray but I’m not sure how effectively I would use it if I were panicking.

  31. says

    How awful! This is one of my greatest fears. My aunt was once bitten while out with my cousin when she was a baby. She got a big chunk taken out of her leg and had to hold my cousin above her head. I don’t understand why people don’t keep their dogs hitched.

  32. Sarah EM says

    Glad she is ok! Have to admit that I thought of your interview with Kikkan Randall and how she has to carry bear mace! I live in the desert and am always looking out for coyote, javalina, and rattle snakes. Just last week on my run I saw about 5 coyote trotting down the path.
    I have 3 dogs and one cat and I know I am too trusting of dogs. This is a good, but sad, reminder that it doesn’t matter how cute the dog is, it is still very much able to attack.

  33. Gillian says

    Hope your mom is ok. Make sure she sees a doctor if the bite becomes red or irritated or she develops streaks from the bite which could be a skin infection called cellulitis. Dog/cat/people mouths are dirty and harbor specific types of bacteria so important to tell your doctor what caused the bite.

  34. Corrinne says

    I feel for your mama. I got bit by a bull mastiff (one big freaking dog!) a few years ago. I was running in my neighborhood and two little kids were in their fenced backyard with the dog unsupervised (they were little little kids) and the little boy opened the gate as I was running by and the dog just came after me. I stopped immediately and when I realized the dog had his teeth barred at me and was coming full force I just sort of stuck my butt out at him and covered by head with my hands. He bit my butt! At first I didn’t think he bit me and a neighbor came out to help me then the pain set in. The mom of the kids finally came out, screamed at the kids, took the dog and never even said sorry. I ran home crying when I realized I had several puncture wounds in my butt.

  35. Charlotte says

    Oh your poor mom. That’s scary and can be so traumatic. This is a great post to keep runners prepared and aware of various dangers.

  36. Anel says

    That’s so scary! I would be traumatized! I hope she heals quickly and continues to run! Is dog pepper spray the same kind humans use? I have a husky! Always run with him.

  37. says

    Thank you so much for this information! I always run on dirt roads beside fields and if there were any stray dogs I’d bleed out all alone.

    Hope your mom heals up ok and gets back to running.

  38. says

    I wrote on IG on your post that I had been attacked 6 years ago, The dog was on a leash & got away from the owner PLUS the dog already had bitten before. Any bite should be reported to the police BUT if you have to go to a doctor – which I did – they are required by law to repost it. I did not know that before the bite. The police called me because the doc called them. This dog had a previous record yet the owner did not muzzle it when she walked it. A lesson to people with aggressive dogs – muzzle them… I was given the option to have the dog put down. I did not but I asked the police to make sure & tell her the dog had to be muzzled…

    I had a hige bite out of my leg & puncture wounds on my hand.. our for 7 days but I guess it could have been worse…

  39. says

    Great post! This happened to me last Summer when I was down South in Alabama for a year. My neighborhood always had dogs running lose and one finally snagged me. Luckily it just bruised, but still shook me up pretty badly. This is why I resorted to doing most of my training in the cemetery behind my house!

  40. Tricia says

    Even if the dog was up to date on it’s vaccines, your mom should still make a report with Animal Control or the Police Department. She may also need a tetanus shot. Hope she heals quickly!

  41. Michele says

    I have 2 cats but no dogs. The cats keep me busy enough.

    I work as a vet tech for a mobile vet, so we see a lot of aggressive dogs who can’t go to a normal clinic. It is shocking how many times I hear people talk about how their dogs went after people while they were out on a walk. I make a mental note to never run in their neighborhood.

    I did have a cat try to attack me once. It was hiding behind a tree and would jump out at the runners as they were going by.

    Yes, have your mom report to Animal Control!!!

  42. says

    This is why I try to always carry pepper spray on my runs. I was almost bitten by a dog (owner was nowhere in sight…grr) once and I’ve been paranoid ever since. I’m so glad your mom is largely okay and I’m so sorry this happened to her. Thanks for publicizing this really important message!

  43. says

    I’m a dog person in general but whenever I run in my parents’ neighborhood I nearly break my ankle every time I run by this one house where I swear the dogs hide and wait for runners before barking and growling and chasing you as you run by. Luckily, they all have electric fences but it always makes me jump. I’m sorry about your mom, that sucks!

  44. says

    I was attacked by a dog a few years ago. It was a street I always went all the way to the top on and had never seen the dog before. He rushed me and took a chunk out of my backside. To top that off the owner asked if he could see. No you cannot look at my butt!

    2 doctors appointments and a police report later, I found out I was not the first person that dog had attacked.

    Now I carry pepper spray and I have not gone all the way up that street since.

  45. Claudia says


    Several times I have encountered the same dog wandering loose on my runs through the neighborhood. I just stop and walk slowly (figuring running away is probably not the best course of action) and tell it nicely to go home. It seems like a nice pup and usually lays down on the sidewalk, but…

  46. says

    Thanks for the good info. I once got bit by a dog (not running–the owner had him on a leash and said I could pet it!?) and had no idea what to do. It has never crossed my mind to be concerned about dogs while running. Is this a common occurrence?

  47. J says

    Scary!! I live in a place that has a major issue with feral dogs (not in the US). I come across them almost every time I run outside, and have had several close encounters with extremely aggressive dogs. They travel in large groups, and will chase a runner down very quickly.

    I’m a huge dog lover, but I also don’t want to get killed. Where did your mom get dog spray? Is it basically mace, or bear spray?

  48. says

    I am sorry to hear that happened to your mom. I think dogs too are scarier than people when it comes to going on a run. I read a comment on your instagram that a lady posted getting attacked by a lab. Those are my favorite dogs of all time and you would never think of getting attacked (knock on wood) but like you said above it comes out of nowhere. I like the advice Cesar Milan gave too. I use to watch the Dog Whisperer everyday when I was in college 😉 that man has the psychology of a dog down packed!! Hope your mom is okay and the best of luck to both of you.

  49. Jessica says

    I’ve never been attacked by a dog when out running but my old dog was attacked pretty badly by another dog which was off the lead. Mollie wasn’t great with other dogs so I asked the owner to call his over but he said that it was a “public park and he was there first”, so I should leave if I couldn’t control my dog. At that point, the other dog got too close, Mollie reared back and the dog went for her neck. It was so scary and the other owner took absolutely no responsibility.

  50. Casey says

    I have never been bit by a dog, but I agree with you- this is seriously one of my biggest fears while running! Thanks for the info for if it ever happens to me!

  51. says

    This is one of our worst fears as cyclists, too. Not only can they bite you while you’re riding, they could get in your way and you could run over them and crash/cause everyone else to crash. When you’re riding at 18+ mph, that is not a pleasant result. We always get our water bottles ready (to spray them…it doesn’t hurt them, but it does slow them down and surprise them), and I always SHOUT AT THEM as loud as I can to, again, slow them down and let us sprint past them. GO HOME!!! STAY HOME!!! (I don’t think it really matters what I say as long as it’s loud.)

    The strangest reaction some dogs have is to run alongside the group of riders. Like for a mile or two. They don’t get in the way, but you think they might, so you ride more cautiously. Or faster. It’s just weird. The worst reaction some have is to try to herd the group. That’s when you hope you don’t run over them!

  52. says

    My dog was bit in a very similar manor. A neighboring dog (literally around the corner) came running out of her house and bit my puppy on the face. My husband was walking her at the time, and said it was all so sudden. Luckily the owner was very nice and helped us to know that the dog was UTD on rabies shot. The bite was very close to her eye and deep, so we were concerned over a potential infection, and the vet gave us some antibiotics just in case. Glad to hear that your mom is okay! That is so scary!

  53. says

    I run at parks all year long. It is amazing how many people walk around the park with their dogs off-leash. It drives me crazy! Whenever I see dogs off-leash I “remind” the owners that the park rules require “all” dogs to be on a leash at all times. Any dog has the potential to bite at any time. Dogs on leash people!

  54. Allyssa says

    Getting bit by a dog is one of my worst fears while running also! I think mine stems from the mean dogs that lived on the other side of my block as a kid. The would chase us on their long front yard leashes when we would ride our bikes. I’m scarred for life. LOL.

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