Dogs and Bikes Do Not Mix

Dogs are attracted to the spinning wheels and feet of the cyclist; even a friendly dog can cause you to fall and it hurts! Read on for what do to if you encounter a dog while riding and what the laws are in Tennessee related to dogs and their owners.

Tips to protect cyclists from dogs:

  • Watch for and announce dogs that chase.
  • Be very alert and keep both hands on the handlebars.
  • Sometimes, you can ignore a dog; in other cases, try a firm, loud “NO,” “HALT,” “HEY,” or “STOP.”
  • Hold your line in a group, if possible.
  • If the dog doesn’t stop, spray the dog with water or pepper stray.
  • Dismount your bike & put it between you and the dog.
  • Wear your Road ID every time you ride.

What to do if Serious Injuries or Damages Occur:

  • Call 911 or the local police.
  • 911 will ask where you are-the closest cross road to you is best.
  • Get police to call an ambulance, if necessary.
  • Get the name & phone number of owner & description of dog.
  • If no one owns up, get the address where the dog came from.
  • File a police report: this documentation will come in handy if you need to file charges. There may be more personal or property damage that you discover later.
  • Keep receipts for expenses related to the incident.

Summary of Laws in Tennessee for Dog Owners:

The owner of a dog (person who regularly harbors, keeps or exercises control over a dog) has a duty to keep their dog under reasonable control at all times, and keep it from running at large. The owner breaks the law if their dog goes uncontrolled upon a highway, public road or street. The owner can be held liable regardless of whether the dog has shown any previous aggressive tendencies. The owner is subject to civil liability for any damages suffered by an injured person. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable up to $2,500 or a felony if there is serious bodily injury or death.