...dealing with bad dogs & stray
There are more sheep than people in Wales, so you will probably encounter some on the road sooner or later. Sheep have a tendency to panic when they see a cyclist. They run alongside you, then suddenly turn 90° and cut across right in front of you.
Our advice is to shout "BAAAAH" (don't know what it means, but they understand it) as you approach sheep. This startles them so they do their panicky manoeuvres well before you get there. Never try to out-run sheep.
So what do you do if you are harassed by a dog? A certain bike book once advocated either ramming your bike pump or clenched fist down the dog's throat; or sprinkling pepper on its nose. The British RSPCA had this advice removed from later editions. In any case how often do you carry a pepper pot in your top pocket? A dog ran off with a friend's pump connector - serves him right for trying to whack the dog on the nose with his pump!
In our experience the easiest and most effective method of dog control is your voice.
If you let the dog know that you are the boss, you will always win the argument. As you approach farm buildings (the dog's home territory), clear your throat and be ready to shout. If a dog comes out, first gently speak to it, say "Hello boy" (this is often all you need to do). If the dog appears to be aggressive, shout a strict command such as "STAY" in a deep rough voice. It does not really matter what words you shout, as long as you sound assertive. Appear confident - don't let the dog know that your knees are knocking and you need your mum to wipe your bum.
Be the boss, and even the biggest and most scary of dogs will stop in its tracks, turn around and run away. No dog is going to pick a fight that it might lose. Also, most dogs in country areas are working farm dogs trained to obey a command, so sound just like a farmer.
Don't try to out-cycle dogs. They can always run faster than you think, and they're likely to do a 90° turn straight across in front of your wheel. It is better to slow down and shut at the dog. If necessary, get off your bike and place it between you and the dog, like a fence.
Never turn your back on a strange dog, it's taken as a sign of weakness, and you may get your ankles nipped (that's what farm dogs do to cows and sheep). If there is more than one dog, don't turn your back on any of them!
Note: dog psychologists say you should never make eye contact with a dog, it's an aggressive act. Our advice is to always keep an eye on the dog without winding it up into a frenzy by staring straight into its eyes (although the staring technique could be used, as long as you are confident enough to back it up with some very assertive shouting). Just remain confident and you will be okay.
If you encounter horse-riders on the road, speak to the horse (or the rider if you prefer) as you approach. Say "Hello" or something. This lets the horse know that you are human, and not some strange animal with wheels. Horses can easily be spooked if you come upon them suddenly from behind, which could cause an accident.
Likewise, let pedestrians know you are coming with a discreet cough (if you don't have a bell).
Don't let drivers bully you into the gutter when overtaking you on a main road with double white lines. Many drivers don't realise that they can cross the double white lines when overtaking a cyclist if it is safe to do so. Crossing the double white lines means they give you plenty of space instead of driving too close. Rule 129 of The Highway Code says:-
Double white lines where the line nearest you is solid. This means you MUST NOT cross or straddle it unless it is safe and you need to enter adjoining premises or a side road. You may cross the line if necessary, provided the road is clear, to pass a stationary vehicle, or overtake a pedal cycle, horse or road maintenance vehicle, if they are travelling at 10 mph (16 km/h) or less.
Spread the word about Rule 129 of The Highway Code.
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