Encountering animals

dog looking for home

Most animals are more scared of you than you are of them but, as a runner, there will be the odd occasion when you are threatened by an animal. The most common complaints from runners are about dogs or cows.

Stay away from animals - The easiest way to avoid confrontation with an animal is to stay away in the first place. If there is any doubt about running through that field full of cows or across the park where owners are not controlling their dogs then try to find an alternative route.

Stay calm if you encounter an overly playful or aggressive dog - If a dog runs towards you need to stand still even if you are in the middle of a threshold run or repetition. It is better to stop your session for a short time than to have to stop it altogether because you have been bitten. Usually the dog will become bored and walk away.

If the dog is overly playful and is jumping up at you, turn your back on it as it won't find this nearly as much fun as jumping up at your front.

If the dog tries to sniff you, let it sniff. It is unlikely to bite you if you stay calm. The worst thing you can do is to move quickly or make lots of noise. This will only stir the dog up. Likewise, don't look into the dogs eyes as it may read this as threatening. Instead look down or straight ahead. Once it has 'checked you out'. walk away very slowly.

Crossing fields of cows - Cows are generally docile and more apprehensive of us than we are of them but people have been hurt and even killed by them and so there are a few of preventative measures that you should take:

  1. Don't get between a cow and her calf. Cows are protective of their young and so you should plan your route around the edge of a herd of cows rather than through the middle of them.
  2. Avoid bulls. There will usually be a sign on the style or gate warning you of the presence of a bull. If there is one you will be able to spot it as they are much bigger and heavier than the average cow and often have a ring through their nose!
  3. Avoid going through fields of cows if you are running with your dog. Cows don't like dogs at all and will move in quickly and even stampede towards a dog. It is not worth the risk so find an alternative route.
  4. Shoo the cows away if they start coming towards you. As long as you don't have a dog with you and they're not bulls they are probably only being curious and will move away from you if you shoo them away.
  5. Don't corner them. As mentioned above, try to walk around the outside of the cows and make sure they have an escape route from you!

Encountering horses - Horses will normally ignore you as you run safely through their field but you should remember that horses have different personalities just as people do. You will occasionally come across a bad tempered horse or one that is very frisky so if a horse is paying more attention to you than you are comfortable with you should avoid going through his field.

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