My dog attacks bikes

Many dogs have issues with wheels – bikes, Rollerblades, strollers, wagons, scooters, motorcycles, wheelchairs, skateboards, even cars.

The issues vary from dog to dog. Some act out aggressively, lunging and barking. Some would actually bite a person on a bike if they could. Other dogs pull frantically at the leash while trying to chase or flee.

Some dogs even shut down out of fear and crouch as submissively as possible.

No matter how inappropriately your dog acts around bikes, she is most likely acting out of fear and uncertainty. Dogs often act aggressively when they are afraid. So if your dog is lunging and barking, she isn’t “macho,” she is insecure.

Here are some tips for helping your insecure dog get control of herself around “wheels.”

I’m going to stick with bikes in this post, but the same concepts can be applied to anything.

Get your dog used to strollers, bikes and Rollerblades.

1. Master loose-leash walking.

My dog doesn’t have issues with wheels, but he used to get overly excited over other dogs. The best way to get him used to new things was to take him out as much as possible. So, start walking!

Get consistent on obedience. Carry treats on walks, and go out on weekends and after work when there is more “excitement.” Most importantly, teach your dog to heel. A dog that walks at your side is under control. A dog that is all over the place on a Flexi leash or even pulling on a 4-foot leash is more likely to respond negatively to bikes.

2. Buy the best training collar for your dog.

It might be a pinch collar. It might be a Halti or a Gentle Leader. The point is, you need to be in control. That isn’t always possible on a regular, buckle collar. A choke collar isn’t much better unless it is kept high on the dog’s neck. I recommend a Halti.

3. Practice obedience next to a bike.

Set your dog up for success. That means think of training in the tiniest steps possible. Practice some sits and stays in the backyard or your garage next to an unoccupied bike. Reward your dog when she sits calmly next to the bike. This will be easy for most dogs, but it is still a good place to start. If your dog reacts to a bike that isn’t moving, then you know how much work you have ahead of you.

4. Get someone to ride the bike near your dog.

Continue to practice obedience. Ask someone your dog knows to slowly push the bike around the yard. Pretend that you don’t even notice this person or the bike. This will help your dog learn that bikes are no big deal. Depending on how your dog reacts, that person could slowly ride the bike. Work on keeping your dog’s attention and reward calm behavior with highly valued treats like hot dogs, cheese or jerky.

5. Walk with your dog on one side and the bike on the other.

Go for a walk while wheeling the bike on your right side, with your dog on your left. You will be between the dog and the bike, with no one on the bike quite yet. You are teaching your dog that there is no reason to be scared of bikes. Go at a slow pace. If your dog is uncomfortable, ignore her and reward her with food once she is calm. Correct unwanted behavior like barking or pulling. If your dog is obviously very panicked or stressed, don’t force her to continue. Instead, go back to previous steps where she can be successful.

6. Ask a family member or friend to bike by you and your dog.

Again, reward your dog for calm behavior. If your dog lunges or barks, correct her with a leash pop or redirect her attention with food. You will probably need the person to bike by you 10 or 20 times and very slowly at first. If it doesn’t go well, try again on a different day. Once your dog is able to ignore the bike, ask your friend to increase his speed. A lot of dogs are fine around bikes at slow speeds but become agitated when bikes go speeding by.

7. Purposely walk by strangers on bikes.

If you want your dog to get used to bikes, you’re going to have to stop avoiding them. Continue carrying treats during walks so you can keep your dog’s attention and reward her when she’s calm. Some people like to stop and make their dogs sit when bikers go by. If this works for your dog, then do that. I prefer to keep walking and act like the bike isn’t there. Remember not to be too tense or your dog will also be tense. The calmer you can be, the better your dog will be.

8. Stay calm. Don’t get angry.

I can easily loose my temper with my dog when he doesn’t understand what I want. But I also know this does nothing to help either of us. If my dog is confused or acting “badly,” it means I need to change something. That’s probably why I lose my temper, because I’m mad at myself! Dog training is not a quick process. Take it easy and remember that getting angry only makes the dog more confused, insecure or scared.

9. Continue training.

Dogs will regress if they don’t keep practicing. So continue to work on all of the above steps as needed. My dog is well behaved in our own neighborhood, but he gets more excited when we go to new areas. Don’t be surprised if you go to a new park and all the sudden your dog is freaking out around bikes again. She might also behave when you walk her but not when your husband or daughter walks her. That’s why it’s important to encourage all family members to take part in the training. Be patient and continue training your dog every chance you get.

10. Bike with your dog.

At this point, your dog will probably be much more comfortable around bikes. Now you can even take your dog along on bike rides. I recommend a dog bike attachment which is a hands free bike leash. Don’t forget your helmet!

Does your dog have any reactions to bikes and strollers? What do you do?

Have a good Memorial Day weekend!!

28 thoughts on “My dog attacks bikes”

  1. I always have to laugh at the dogs riding in cars or the back of trucks that bark at my dogs while we’re walking. My dogs would love to take their challenge if not for those pesky leashes.

  2. Amanda Steiner

    My dog has issues with dogs in fences that run back & forth & bark at us when we walk by. He used to freak out, and try to run and bark at the other dogs while on a leash, but I’ve been working on this behavior with him. For the most part all he does now is make some terrible whining noises that sound like I’m beating the crap out of him! So, when we encounter this situation, we walk back and forth, and back and forth….until he is calm, and then I reward the good behavior. I swear one of these days the owners are going to come out and swear at me for teasing their dog!

  3. Lindsay Stordahl

    Oh, that’s such good advice for so many people, Amanda. I need to do more of that with my own dog. I think my problem is I get embarrassed and don’t want to address the issue. For me it’s my dog charging the door and barking. It’s easier to let it go than to work on the problem in front of visitors.

  4. Gus howls at every dog that comes our way but when they come over to him he is far more interested in their humans. He could care less about bikes, skateboards, cars, or any other transportation.

    Yesterday we had lunch in a very busy outdoor spot where people have plenty of dogs so he had plenty to howl at. I touch his snout and he’ll stop for a second. It is funny to watch everyone react to him though, they always think he’s sad. The truth is, he’s quite happy!

  5. Lindsay Stordahl

    Ha, that’s cute that Gus howls at everyone. It probably gets annoying for you, though! Ace will sometimes howl, but I have to encourage him to do it.

    Ty, it amazes me how so many people don’t even consider training collars or even know about the different kinds.

  6. Thanks for your advice. My dog used to be so happy walking at the park, and all of a sudden she barks at every bike and jogger she sees. People used to say hello to me, now they shout abuse at me! It’s become a nightmare to go to the park. I just can’t understand where it’s come from. A friend suggested it could be her diet. I have been giving her new biscuits lately and different dry food to the food she used to have, so I’ll try changing her diet as well. Anyway, now you’ve given me some hope for change!

  7. Lindsay Stordahl

    It’s not her diet. Her behavior will improve with more leadership on your part, more exercise and more exposure to different situations. Think about when these problems first started. They were probably very subtle at first and you let them go or didn’t even notice. I hope this post helps give you some ideas for things you can work on.

  8. Ok, Me and my fiancés adopted a dog… and she is the sweetest thing… until a bike goes by! if she is not on her lesh she will charge and bark at it, then stop and keep barking at it from about 5 feet away. she trys to do the same thing when she is on lesh but we try to stop her by giving a jerk on the lesh and a little tap on the nose, but that does not work. it is only bikes that she hates. she love people of all kinds and other amimals. what can we do to corect this?

  9. Well hopefully my site will be working soon and then you can read my entire post, which goes through a step by step process to teach a dog to be OK around bikes.

    Basically you have to take very small steps and be patient. Start by getting your dog used to a motionless bike in the backyard or garage. Then begin walking your dog on your left while wheeling your bike on your right so you are in between your dog and your bike. This way, she learns that a bike is no big deal. Eventually you can build to walking her while someone else walks the bike around you and your dog. Then, have someone ride the bike past you. Depending on the dog, each step could take a few seconds or multiple repetitions over days or weeks.

  10. How do we train the humans on the bikes to act properly? We live in the country about two miles out of a small town. We get a lot of people going by on bikes, roller blades, or just out walking. My dogs don’t usually pay attention to any one on the road.

    The other day I was out in the yard with my dogs and along came two bikes, husband and wife. When they cleared the trees and the wife saw my dogs she started speeding up and in a panic voice started screaming (Grab your f*^#*^g dogs you f g idiot) Well when she did this Bruno my little mutt started running along the ditch barking at them. He stopped at our property line and never went on the road. I was caught so off guard by this that it stunned me for a bit. Ruby never even moved she just kind of looked up like what is going on.

    Any way I gathered myself up, put the dogs in the house and got in my truck and went after them. When I got up to them I explained that I felt this was completely uncalled for. Right away the lady started freaking out on me about my dogs. I tried to explain to her that it had more to do with how she reacted then the problem with the dogs themselves. I also tried to explain that my dogs never left the yard and never got close to her. She continued telling me that they running at her with their teeth bared. I asked her how she knew that when she wasn’t even looking back and was only hauling ass screaming. I then told her that she didn’t need to worry if they ever rode by again. Because my dogs won’t attack her. She replied I have heard that before! So I said So someone has told you that about their dogs and then their dogs have attacked you. She said no I have just heard about it happening. So I asked her if she ever played the game telephone? She had a confused look on her face and her husband was just sitting there with a smile on his face. (hopefully she didn’t see that or he was probably sleeping in the dog house that night) I then appologized if my dogs scared her and reassured her that they wouldn’t do anything. Then let her know again that I didn’t appreciate being called an idiot. She appologized and when I left they smiled and waved.

    There was probably a lot more said and a lot more argueing but you get the idea. She automatically assumed when she saw the dogs were loose that she was going to be attacked. Even though it had never happened to her.

    Any way just my two cents. I needed to vent.

  11. You know, what can you do when people act like idiots? Pretty much nothing and there will always be people like that. I guess just know your dogs well and make sure they would never attack anyone on a bike. Some dogs get into that chase mode and will nip at people’s legs or bike tires, especially if the person is screaming like that woman was. Make sure the dogs know to stay on your property and that they always come when called, even in situations like that.

    I smiled when you said Ruby was just looking up like, what’s going on? Ha.

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  13. Our dog only goes after bikes once in a great while, we live on a very popular walking/riding route and people can walk or ride by all day long, than out of the blue Harley will jump up and try to jerk someone off thier bike. It has happened about 5 times in 3 years. How can we correct such sporadic behavior?

    1. Unfortunately you have to keep setting up the scenario by making sure to walk around bikes as often as possible. You said it has happened about five times. Maybe there was something similar between those five times, something different about those bikers compared to others. Dogs pick up on the strangest little details sometimes. Or it could be that it happened during times your dog was extra excited for some reason. Maybe you were walking with someone else or had just passed something “exciting” like a squirrel or a hyper dog.

      You may want to carry some extra special treats along and distract your dog with that when bikers go by. Since he is normally not fixated on bikes, he will probably gladly watch you and take the food instead. If you make this a habit, he will learn to look at you when a biker goes by because a treat is much better!

  14. Thanks for the information. My dog just broke free of me tonight, we had JUST stepped out the front door and I didn’t have a good handle on the leash. He tore off after and lunged at a poor girl riding her bike! It was horrifying, for everyone. He got her right on the thigh no puncture wound but a heck of a pinch. It’s exhausting. I will try to work on it as you suggested. He is also EXTREMELY territorial of our property and I welcome any tips about that. At the moment I put him in the crate until he is calm after people come in the house. It works most of the time, but it seems there are some people he just does NOT like, and I never know it until he’s had an attitude towards them. He can be SO sweet…and SO miserable. He’s very insecure as you said, but I don’t know how to build him up. He’s a mini Aussie…Thanks for your tips!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Lisa, have you tried helping him associate positive experiences with new people by giving him treats when he is calm around them?

    2. Lisa, if you are still around to read this, I have a mini-aussie also and he behaves the same way and he is 6 years old. He didn’t start out this way. But I did notice he was afraid of vaccums when he was young and still is. He’s now trying to attack moving bike, trucks and suvs, and some men. He didn’t use to be this bad. And I walk him every day, in the morning and at night. He will even bite me when he gets into a frenzy if I don’t keep his mouth away from my legs. Once we are in the house he turns into the most sweet and submissive dog I have ever seen. He’s like a Jeckyl & Hyde.

  15. Wow. My Aussie mix just bit someone on a bike today. He was off leash and gets triggered by some things I seem to be able to identify, and others that seem completely random. He barks and lunges at trucks/buses, one jogger in particular in my neighborhood, and bikes. He can pass 20 bikes with no problem and then bark like crazy at some. Tonight was the worst. He bit this cyclist’s leg and drew blood. I think it is insecurity–he’s very anxious under certain circumstances–loud noises etc. He’s a new rescue, only a year and half old and been with me since 10 months old. He’s not used to the city life and has improved in some areas (used to snap and nip at me until I made an adjustment to be a stronger pack leader) but then this incident was just the worst. I called in a dog behaviorist and hope she can help. Any feedback would be appreciated. Also, I’ve had my fair share of aggressive people who scream and yell at me for being a terrible dog owner when the dogs have WALKED in their path or just been really excitable (then even more excitable when they start screaming at me). I try to stay as calm as possible and have noticed that once people get past their fear stage they tend to be fairly reasonable. Even this guy that was bit was reasonable after I stopped, apologized, checked if he was ok, gave him my info, etc. Then there are those people that just are nasty no matter what. Thanks for this thread–very comforting to know I”m not the only one with an insecure dog. I feel like such a bad doggy mama sometimes! 🙂

    1. L-A, if you are still around, your dog sounds EXACTLY like mine, and he is a mini-aussie also. My dog is 6 years old and has always been in the city and around cars, bikes etc but still attacks them. He didn’t start out as bad when he was young but it got worse as he got older, and I think my teenager daughter who took him out all the time made him ever more insecure since she was such a drama queen and he was around that all the time. Anyways, my dog is defintely insecure outdoors, he’s always looking over his shoulder and scouting the area like he watching and waiting to attack. I keep confident on the leash with him but so far it isn’t stopping him a bit. I’ve heard mini-Aussies are more prone to this behaviour due to some bad breeding.

  16. My dog is very fearful on a leash. She gets aggressive towards men, other dogs and especially bicycles. I take her on bike rides all the time and she is fine with me on the bike but still reacts poorly to other people on bikes. I am afraid she is going to accidentally bite someone one day. We work hard trainibg her and it just doesnt seem to be enough. I get very worried now whenever we are walking. 🙁

  17. My dog completely freaks out at the stroller’s only when my oldest daughter is with us. On the way home without her he’s fine with it. I don’t even want to take him for walks anymore =/

  18. I am in a power wheel chair & whenever my neighbors dog sees me it goes wild . It got through a hole in their fence & came right away into my yard & kept trying to bite me. The owner heard me & came out & got it but it did manage to bite my elbow. The owner is making the fence more secure & can only hope it does not get out. In the meantime I have gotten a pepper spray pistol for protection & only hope I do not have to use it

  19. My dog is 8 , she was in a kennel until I got her . She is a little basset griffon.She does not lunge or try to attack,she just goes berserk wailing and crying non stop,if She sees a bike close or in distance , she does nor stop and treats are of no interest . Previous owner said a postman use to cycle by and chuck biscuits over the kennel. Could it be this, excitement ? Am not sure , reading up all comments it could be fear ? I live in Scotland loads of mountain bikes , today though worse I ever saw her absolutely beside herself .i have two of them and they both livedtogether he does not bother so much gets a little excited but that’s all . Am at wits end . Do have some place bike free . Both on leads as they are scent hounds and cannot be offllead as they disappear .on scent .
    Any suggestions , is this learned behaviour ? Or fear .. Did someone chuck something which hit her .all supposition. But any answer would be good.

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