I've been running for nearly 30 years and never have been bitten by a dog -- until this morning.
Here's what happened: I was on a dirt and grassy canal in north Davis before dawn and came upon a couple walking their two huge black dogs, off leash. The couple was about 30 feet ahead of the dogs, who were frolicking behind. I've encountered this scenario many times and just kept running past. Sometimes, I'd have to dodge an overly friendly canine, but I never felt threatened.
So I kept running this morning, too. Only this time, one of the dogs bolted to my left and bit me in the left hip before running to catch up with the couple, who seemed blissfully unaware of the incident. I didn't stop. In fact, I sped up and the dog backed off and bounded toward its owner. (Fortunately, the bite didn't break skin -- or the garment of my rain slicker. I do have a nice bruise, though.)
It turns out that I did everything wrong when it comes to runners versus dogs.
First mistake: I raised my hands over my head. I figured it was a peace offering, showing the dog that I meant no harm. I learned only later from the folks at animalhealthcare.com that dogs perceive that as a threat.
Second mistake: I kept running. Experts suggest to stop and stay still and avoid eye contact. They say it's a dog's instinct to chase "prey."
Third mistake: I didn't tell the dog "no" or say sternly "go home" when it started following me.
Final mistake: I didn't stop and get information on the dog from the owners. Who knows, maybe it didn't have its rabies shot.
So, lesson learned. Let me know if I start foaming at the mouth -- or foaming more the usual.
The American Running Association has guidelines for dealing with dogs. Click here.