Chopper, sic'em, Boy! - Things I Wish I Knew

#4 Chopper, sic'em, Boy!
Series: Things I Wish I Knew as a New Triathlete.

In the 1986 movie Stand by Me, a kid named Gordie gets caught taking a shortcut through a junkyard. Milo, the junkyard owner, demands answers and Gordie runs. Milo calls to his dog, "Chopper, sic'em, Boy!" But Gordie hears, "Chopper, sic balls!"

The chase begins.

I'm a dog person. I grew up with dogs as pets. Our family has a Lab named Sherpa . But, as a triathlete, spending miles on the bike and run, I hate dogs. They stalk, chase and terrify me.

The Choppers I've met on the road aren't sweet-hearted Retrievers like in Stand by Me. Instead, my Choppers are nasty, aggressive biters and like Gordie, I run and scream.

I've tried:
- outrunning/outriding the dog(s),
- screaming like a crazy person,
- pretending I'm not actually scared (we know from Jerry McGuire that dogs and bees can smell fear), and
- sacrificing my husband (Ken), making him ride past first.

Ken's not scared. He barks back and thinks that's funny (though he did get bit by a Golden Retriever!). Other triathletes say squirt loose dogs with water.

Read these suggestions & then tell me how you handle a Chopper:
- Stay calm, don't smile & don't run.
If Chopper gets you, curl into a fetal position, stay still and don't scream. More tips here.
- No eye contact! What if the dog jumps? Tips here.
- Don't pet the dog.
- BeginnerTriathlete discusses dogs.
- Even Chihuahuas give a good chase.
- An old but good discussion thread from
- Dog vs Bike in the Tour de France here and here.

Tell me, what works for you? Anyone try Crocodile Dundee's custom move? (2nd half of the clip)

In Stand By Me four kids setoff on a journey hoping to find the dead body of a missing boy. The film's trailer says, "For some, it's the last real taste of innocence. And the first real taste of life. But for everyone it's the time that memories are made of."

Like Stand By Me, triathlon is an adventure, filled with memory-making moments. While my bike and run miles may not be Chopper-free, I hope to deny Chopper his first real taste of me.
Bite me Chopper.

Triathlon is a rewarding sport for people of all ages and abilities. 2009 is your year to taste triathlon. As a triathlete, you'll surprise yourself as you face fears and set personal bests. You'll be more confident, have more energy and smile more often. People will be drawn to that difference. Triathlon is a rewarding sport for people of all ages and abilities, wearing underwear is optional. Sleestak sightings rare. Dogs, many.

Check out Why You Can series:Common excuses:
1-I have no time. 2-I can't afford it. 3-I'm too old. 4-I'm afraid. 5-I'm not an athlete.

Also see Series: Things I Wish I Knew As a New Triathlete:
#1 My swimsuit was see-through.
#2 Go Commando: Things I Wish I Knew
#3 Land of the Lost Training

And visit me in's triathlon community. Come say hello, I'm a volunteer moderator!


Carolina John said...

on my first tri ever, I turned the corner and had two pit bulls chasing me down the road and some huge mustached redneck hollering "oh shit!" behind me. scared? yea, a little. luckily, big dogs like that don't have the endurance i have on the bike and I was able to outlast them. still, not fun.

I Run for Fun said...

I would just stand rooted to the spot with my eyes closed and hope it will go away. Talk about the ostrich approach!

leann said...

I'm a 45 single mother of two.I started running about 18 months ago.Now I have signed up for my first sprint-tri.I'm very happy to have found your blog. Its both entertaining and informative.I'll be checking it frquently for more good info!

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Carolina John - that seriously freaks me out! 2 pit pulls!!!! I'm glad you made it, wow on your 1st tri ever!!!

I Run for Fun- you have more guts than I do. Maybe taking the Out of Africa don't run from the lion approach? Yikes!

Leann- I'm so glad you stopped to say hi. Very cool you're enjoying running and also triathlon! I hope you'll come back, and have a great first triathlon season!!

Robin said...

I carry a canister of pepper spray at all times on bikes and runs. So far I'm 2-for-2 against dogs with the spray. I was menaced by a pit bull while out walking last year though (sadly I did not have my spray with me). I faced down the dog and just kept saying "bad dog!" in a hopefully authoritative voice while dialing 911. Thankfully the owner showed up before something Really Bad happened. .

Ange said...

I just got bit a few weeks ago!!!! NOT FUN! I love this post. I too love dogs but NOT when I'm running. I handle different dogs differently. some I ignore. Some I say 'good doggie' stuff liek that. Now I have pepper spray. I'll probably never dare to use it.

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Robin, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your Chopper experiences! Scary!

Anje, you got bit!! recently!! oh that's awful.

Back off Choppers!

Emily said...

I was riding my bike and there is this part where you ride down by some railroad tracks. there was this little brown dog chasing bikes- not in a mean way just chasing. so when he started chasing me i squirted him in the face with my water... and he was drinking it.. so i figured he was thirsty and stopped and gave him some more. then he followed my bike 5 miles back to my car and i ended up taking him home. his name is lance :) my other dog wasn't too happy but now i have 2 great running partners lol.

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Thanks so much for sharing your dog story! I love this side of the Chopper siatuation! How cute, little thirsty pup!
:-) Sara

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I wish I had read this post before my trip to Macon. I too like dogs, in general, but not when they chase me while on a bike. I'll try to remember some of these tips but my first instinct is to pedal as fast as possible (i.e., what I call doing pit bull sprints :-).

Michelle said...

I've had good luck with a couple of approaches. one is "good puppy, sweet puppy" in a gentle voice while stopping and facing the dog. the second, used in circumstances where the dog appears menacing is to very loudly and with a deep voice say, "No. Sit." then turning and walking away. running and biking fast sets of a dog's natural prey drive causing the situation to actually escalate.