The Birds, the Bees, and the Yappy Little Dogs

Posted by Filed Under: Running Tips

Animal encounters are the price of sharing the great outdoors with God’s creatures, but perhaps because runners cover so much territory we seem to have more than our share.

I’ve had a gash opened on my calf by a nine-pound yapping monster—on a retractable leash, mind you—and had a huge friendly Labrador follow me on my entire six-mile run. I’ve been chased by yellowjackets and a crow. Evidently I’ve only scratched the surface.

A little research turned up runner stories and advice about encounters with birds, bees, deer, coyotes, and rattlesnakes.

And if you’re on the trail in Australia, watch out for wombats.


It’s a serious safety issue, but there’s a comedic side to all the animal do’s and don’ts. Aggressive dog? Avoid eye contact. Aggressive wolf? Maintain eye contact.

Don’t yell, wave your arms or make aggressive movements towards a dog. If it’s a dingo, go ahead and make a sudden loud noise, and continue until it goes away.

Grizzly bear? Play dead. Cougar? Stand and fight.

And then there’s this helpful hint: “A charging polar bear should be interpreted as a bear intent on injuring a person.”

Thanks for the safety tip.

I’m a runner, not Marlin Perkins. I picture myself being eaten alive by raccoons or fruit bats while I rummage through my mental files for the appropriate response.

Women runners have one additional animal nuisance to deal with, but don’t worry. Squirt water in his face and he’ll leave you alone.

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.

  1. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on August 3rd at 7:10 am

    While I have seen “dangerous” animals quite a few times while running, and been chased by a lot of dogs, the animal (or in this case bird) that bothered me the most were the vultures.

    They never attacked me. But they all stood up in their trees and all their heads turned as I passed under them and you could tell that they were just waiting for you to trip on a tree root or something as they stared at you with those beady little eyes. It was very disconcerting, and thankfully the flock of them was only around for a few months.

  2. fitline on August 4th at 1:47 am

    why you have adviced not to maintain eye contact with an agressive dog is there any reason behind this

  3. Jon (was) in Michigan on August 4th at 5:47 am

    For aggressive dogs I will recommend a Dog Dazzer. If that doesn’t work? I recommend a 5 iron.

  4. bex on August 6th at 9:55 am

    Funny post! I’ve had a few aggressive dogs chase me, but the animal I’ve had to look out for in the past few days is the bear. I’m at Lake Tahoe (CA), in the Sierra Nevadas, and bear sightings are very common. A bear once walked onto the deck of my cousin’s house, and ate the family’s breakfast.

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  8. jane on August 27th at 4:13 am

    what about the little bugs flying around in clouds, always right at mouth level? i must have eaten quite a few by now.