For many people, going out on local trails is the best way to enjoy a run. When you’re surrounded by nature, there’s an enhanced sense of peace that’s difficult to experience when you’re on busy sidewalks or streets.
However, there are some downsides to being out in the woods. You’re much more likely to come across wildlife in these areas, and some creatures could be aggressive—especially if you startle them. And while the chances of encountering a dangerous animal may be higher on a trail, don’t forget that an off-leash dog in a neighborhood could be just as threatening. If you want to be ready for any animal encounter, follow this helpful running safety guide.
Before you head out on a run, make sure you have the proper safety gear ready to go. When it comes to defending yourself against an aggressive animal, pepper spray is one of the best options. It’s a quick and easy way to disable the animal enough to get away without causing serious injury to it. SABRE Runner Pepper Gel comes with a hand strap that makes it easy to carry as you run, and the gel formula is resistant to blowback so you aren’t affected by the spray.
Give Them Space
Animals can often be territorial. To deter an attack, be sure to give an animal plenty of space if you spot one. Move as far away as you can, especially if it seems to be aggressive. Retreat slowly while keeping your eye on it. Just don’t corner yourself anywhere in case they charge at you.
Animal safety tips can vary significantly depending on the type of creature you come across. Know what types of animals are in your area and memorize what to do if one attacks:
- Dogs: Avoid direct eye contact and speak in a controlled voice. Try throwing a piece of gear or a water bottle between you and the dog to distract them.
- Coyotes: Make loud noises to scare them off.
- Bears: Speak in a low, calm voice and make yourself appear as large and tall as possible. Black bears can often be scared away. Grizzles are more dangerous; if one attacks, play dead until they lose interest.
- Mountain lions: Make yourself appear as large and tall as possible as you back away slowly. If they follow you, throw rocks, branches or other objects.
- Bobcats: Make loud noises to scare them off. Typically, only proximity to their kittens makes these animals aggressive.
- Snakes: Back away slowly and avoid scaring them. Notice the appearance so that if you are bitten, you can describe the snake and receive the right treatment.
Use Your Phone
You should always have your phone on you while on a run in case of emergency. This is especially important if you are attacked by an animal. Use a running belt to keep your phone within reach so you can call for help or get medical attention promptly.
Additional Tips for Running Safety
Besides memorizing the steps listed above, here are a few additional things you can do in the event of an animal encounter:
- Turn down the volume: Wearing headphones or earbuds can block out sounds that might warn you of an animal’s presence. Run without music or turn the volume down so you can hear your surroundings.
- Get a running buddy: If possible, run with someone else so you can help keep each other safe.
Run during the day: You’ll be better able to spot potential predators in the daylight.