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How to deal with dogs?

Camino(s) past & future
Via Podiensis (2016); Camino Portugues (2017); Via Regia (2018)
#1
More than once I have been warned about the dogs and the usefulness of a walking pole / stick - particularly on the Camino Portugues, but I guess the situation is similar on other routes as well. (I heard that it is, or at least used to be, a known issue on the Le Puy route.) But what exactly do you do with the pole / stick when confronted by one (or God forbid, more) of them? Do you use it to hit them (which I would be hesitant to do, for fear of provoking them further), or do you brandish the pole frantically at them?

And is there any advice on avoiding being near them in the first place apart from not walking the Camino? Any particular parts of the Camino that are particularly 'dangerous' in this regard? As a very small person weighing 45kg walking alone, I can imagine how easily I could be overcome by a mad dog, hence my nervousness.

Thanks!
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#2
In recent years I have had very little problem with aggressive dogs on the loose on the Spanish caminos or the Portugues. Most seem to have grown very used to walkers. I would not wave the stick at any who did appear threatening. Tapping it loudly on the ground generally seems to send enough of a message to any dogs who insist on getting too close for my comfort. I found dogs to be much more of an issue when walking the Via Francigena in Italy: a route with far fewer walkers and perhaps the dogs have not had time to adjust to the few they see.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via Podiensis (2016); Camino Portugues (2017); Via Regia (2018)
#3
I found dogs to be much more of an issue when walking the Via Francigena in Italy: a route with far fewer walkers and perhaps the dogs have not had time to adjust to the few they see.
Just when I thought Portugues sounded bad enough compared to Le Puy, it gets worse! Anyway, thanks for the useful advice.
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#6
So many lovely dogs on the various Caminos, some will keep you company over long distances. Just carefully get out of the way of those who may not like you.
 

edandjoan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St. Gallen to Muxia
2012-2018
#7
In August of 2015 two walkers were bitten on the Le Puy route a day or two out of Le Puy. One had to stop her her walk the other was able to carry on. Pretty sure it was the same dog from what we heard, we didn't actually witness it, but did see the marks left by the dog.

I like to carry a couple rocks in my pocket and just throw them at the dog, we don't use poles. We have had aggressive dogs on the French , LePuy and in Switzerland routes, but none on the Primativo. Thankfully we have never been bitten but have had a few tense moments.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#8
We have had aggressive dogs on the French , LePuy and in Switzerland routes, but none on the Primativo.
That surprises me. I walked the Via Francigena through France, Switzerland and Italy. One of the things that surprised me most was that immediately on entering Switzerland I seemed to leave aggressively barking dogs behind. No dogs wandering loose either. I can't recall a single stroppy hound in Switzerland! Then once in Italy the trouble started again. Made me wonder if the Swiss passion for order extends to clamping down firmly on anti-social pooches.
 

edandjoan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St. Gallen to Muxia
2012-2018
#9
That surprises me. I walked the Via Francigena through France, Switzerland and Italy. One of the things that surprised me most was that immediately on entering Switzerland I seemed to leave aggressively barking dogs behind. No dogs wandering loose either. I can't recall a single stroppy hound in Switzerland! Then once in Italy the trouble started again. Made me wonder if the Swiss passion for order extends to clamping down firmly on anti-social pooches.
The one place that stands out in my mind, we were stopped in our tracks for about 5 minutes until the owner came. That was east of where the Via Francigena crosses south. A day or two before Interlaken. The day into Interlaken we had to cross a fenced field with young brown swiss bulls, having grown up on a farm and raised a couple brown swiss bulls, I know that they can be aggressive and I could tell they were not happy we were there and once we got around them, two started to charge and we ran for the other gate and escaped unharmed. Funny story now, not at the time.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
#10
The best advice I ever received was from Rebecca of Moratinos.
The dogs you may run into are farm dogs and they know exactly what a rock is!
If a dog approaches you barking, just bend down and pick up a rock and watch him run.
You don't even have to throw it!
:p
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#11
I never had a single incident with a vicious dog anytime I walked the Camino. Sure, I saw many dogs just like everyone else, but no problems and if they looked territorial or were at work moving or protecting livestock, I gave them wide berth, never looked them in the eye and moved on.
I never came across the packs of wild dogs hellbent on tearing hapless pilgrims apart as described in a couple of popular "non-fiction" walking the Camino accounts. Never had to do battle with a staff or sword. :D
I did have two incidents with large working dogs where they forced me to play with them. It was terrible. The first one was near Puente la Reina. A massive mastiff (he must have weighed 75 kilos) that peeled away from his flock and descended upon me and forced me to give up a sizeable chunk of my bocadillo and then forced me to play and roll around with him in the grass for a few minutes. It was horrible.
Then there was the large powerful mastiff/shepard cross after O'Cebreiro that forced me to play fetch with him with a large stick for over an hour. Throwing the stick, tug of war with it. Oh the humanity. He was relentless in his insistence on playing.
:rolleyes:
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
#12
I have had only one dog issue in three years on the Camino. My wife and I were leaving Triacastela very early in the morning. As we were on the outskirts of town and walking by what looked like a construction yard, two very large and aggressive German Shepherds that were not chained started to follow us and were obviously by their growling that we were not welcome. We slowly backed away with our poles extended in front of us and I had my very powerful LED flashlight as well. They lost interest in us after about 100 yards. I partly blame our early pre-dawn start for this incident
Otherwise, most dogs barely lift their heads as we walk by. I find most dogs are very accustomed to pilgrims and many want to play with you as you walk by and are looking for treats. Others look a little puzzled as we great them in English! Camino - April - 2014 206.jpg
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#15
One of the things that surprised me most was that immediately on entering Switzerland I seemed to leave aggressively barking dogs behind. No dogs wandering loose either. I can't recall a single stroppy hound in Switzerland! Then once in Italy the trouble started again. Made me wonder if the Swiss passion for order extends to clamping down firmly on anti-social pooches.
I had exactly the same experience but on entering Germany after walking through France! Such a difference, it was eerie :)
 

ELHS220

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés - 2015
Francés - 2017
Norte (Oviedo Costa) - 2018
Finisterre/Muxía - 2018
#16
More than once I have been warned about the dogs and the usefulness of a walking pole / stick - particularly on the Camino Portugues, but I guess the situation is similar on other routes as well. (I heard that it is, or at least used to be, a known issue on the Le Puy route.) But what exactly do you do with the pole / stick when confronted by one (or God forbid, more) of them? Do you use it to hit them (which I would be hesitant to do, for fear of provoking them further), or do you brandish the pole frantically at them?

And is there any advice on avoiding being near them in the first place apart from not walking the Camino? Any particular parts of the Camino that are particularly 'dangerous' in this regard? As a very small person weighing 45kg walking alone, I can imagine how easily I could be overcome by a mad dog, hence my nervousness.

Thanks!
Carry some small dog biscuits in your pocket. Treats can often win over all but the most vicious canines. This is good advice even in your own neighborhood.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, De Soulac, Norte, Madrid-Salv-Primitivo
#17
Hi, what @Anniesantiago said. Reach down to the ground as though you are about to pick up a rock and they will back off. Just keep doing that until you are off their territory. It works every time. I have had some very scarey moments. The worst was the one and only time I left before every one else in the dawn mist. The farm dogs up the road were still unchained and one came for me with teeth bared. I had no time to do anything but raise my pole to strike, he was so close, but when I did that he just stopped and barked at me, so I guess I was probably in no danger, he was just warning me off, but my legs were shaking. I stopped for coffee as soon as I could and asked other pilgrims if the dog went for them too, and they hadn’t a clue what I was talking about. Since then, I sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, and I don’t leave before all the farm dogs up ahead are well and truly chained up.
Jill
 

Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
#18
Carry some small dog biscuits in your pocket. Treats can often win over all but the most vicious canines. This is good advice even in your own neighborhood.
Reminds me of the story called Pavlov and the Bear. The moral to said story is "Be sure you know what you're rewarding, because that's exactly what you're going to get." (At the end, the bear eats Pavlov.)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
#19
I am terrified of dogs, so dogs are what I get to face on camino. In 2002, a barking back-up dog stopped two large men and me in our tracks. Dog roared at us, snarling madly, while retracing his steps and moving sideways, jumped over fence into safety of his front yard, turned to face us, and proceeded to continue barking out ferociously. In 2014, dogs here, dogs there, dogs everywhere, small ones, large ones. But, not one bit me, hassled me, neither were there packs looking to maul me. However, once I left Santiago, I thought I'd passed dog test. Nope, in Fisterra at albergue what was awaiting me, a dog at threshold of door. Face your fears and fly!
Buen camino.
 

AbbyDee

Court Jester
Camino(s) past & future
In celebration of the 35th anniversary of my 25th year, I will begin my Camino in September 2017
#22
I never had a single incident with a vicious dog anytime I walked the Camino. Sure, I saw many dogs just like everyone else, but no problems and if they looked territorial or were at work moving or protecting livestock, I gave them wide berth, never looked them in the eye and moved on.
I never came across the packs of wild dogs hellbent on tearing hapless pilgrims apart as described in a couple of popular "non-fiction" walking the Camino accounts. Never had to do battle with a staff or sword. :D
I did have two incidents with large working dogs where they forced me to play with them. It was terrible. The first one was near Puente la Reina. A massive mastiff (he must have weighed 75 kilos) that peeled away from his flock and descended upon me and forced me to give up a sizeable chunk of my bocadillo and then forced me to play and roll around with him in the grass for a few minutes. It was horrible.
Then there was the large powerful mastiff/shepard cross after O'Cebreiro that forced me to play fetch with him with a large stick for over an hour. Throwing the stick, tug of war with it. Oh the humanity. He was relentless in his insistence on playing.
:rolleyes:

Oh the horror, the horror........
 

alipilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2005), Frances (2007), Madrid/Frances (2011), 1/2 VdP (2012),
#24
I've encountered a few ferociously barking dogs that luckily I was able to get past. I'm considering bringing an umbrella on my next Camino (for sun/rain purposes), I wonder if opening it up and presenting a visual barrier between oneself and the dog might lessen their aggressiveness?
 
Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
#26
Most dogs on the caminoes does not bother to look at you and those that bark are most often inside a fence.
The one time I was attacked by a small dog in France on GR65, stones or tapping the poles did not help, but when I instead started shouting Fy! in a load voice he turned around and walked home.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#27
This big guy belonged to the albergue hospitalero/bartender in Galicia. Big, gentle old dog that moved slow. He posted up on the warm blacktop in the late afternoon, soaking up some of the last of the sun's rays. I was just chilling out, sitting outside with a cold one admiring his attitude towards life in general.
Camino again 033.jpg
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
#29
104-41 Making friends in Penafonte. I'm glad he was friendly!.JPG
Making friends in Penafonte, Camino Primitivo, July 2015. His head is bigger than mine! He was a sweetie.

Never had a problem with dogs in Spain except on the Camino San Salvador where there are few pilgrims. A few times on the Le Puy route, but nothing dangerous. Some scary moments Geneva to Le Puy, but then again not many pilgrims. Good advice here about sticks and stones. Never turn your back on a dog coming at you.

On the Frances no problems at all

Davey
 
Camino(s) past & future
It is eternity now, it always has been and it always will be. We are in the midst of it.
#30
Here's Harry we met at the cross one evening and he irritated me as I was trying to lay pebbles in memory of my brother who had died of cancer 6 months earlier. Next morning as I passed La Cruz de Ferro, Harry greeted me and we walked together to Acebo. I had considered how I would smuggle him back to Heathrow, but I saw sense and the waitress gave Harry treats while I escaped out of the front of the café. Although I still cannot see an alternative, I do regret my actions......see you bro! Harry.PNG
 

Randyb

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte 2017
#31
I was surprised to see no mention of anyone carrying pepper spray or similar. Is it not available or just not considered as an option ?
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#33
I was surprised to see no mention of anyone carrying pepper spray or similar. Is it not available or just not considered as an option ?
I really would see no use in carrying it for protection against vicious dogs for a couple of reasons, the first being you would never use it. The second being it may not even work against them (I carried it as a copper and never had luck with it against dogs, and vicious dogs at houses and in yards were a common occurrence).
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
#34
I was surprised to see no mention of anyone carrying pepper spray or similar. Is it not available or just not considered as an option ?
I had an incident with a bear.

After that I purchased a canister of pepper spray.

It went on my belt the first day.

It went into the top of my pack the second ... on the rationale that I could get to it quickly if needed.

On the third it was buried deep in my pack somewhere.

Next trip, it went kayaking with me.

The next trip I decided to leave it at home.

Now its buried in the pile of hiking gear considered too good to throw out ... well past its expiry date.
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#35
I've encountered a few ferociously barking dogs that luckily I was able to get past. I'm considering bringing an umbrella on my next Camino (for sun/rain purposes), I wonder if opening it up and presenting a visual barrier between oneself and the dog might lessen their aggressiveness?
I've heard that actually shuts them down sometimes. They have no idea what you just did and how your size suddenly increased so quickly and they can't see your limbs or eyes. A "what the heck" moment for the dog I suppose. Fear and confusion sets in, and they want no part of it.
We carried tasers on patrol as a cop, and the cartridge could be removed and that exposed the two prongs, which when you activated the taser sent a visible electric current between the two and a crackling noise. For some reason that scared the heck out of some really vicious dogs. You didn't even have to touch them with it. Just hold it out in front of you with the current crackling. When they saw it they actually had a surprised and fearful look on their face, and they haul butt outta there.
I figured it must set off some primal thing in them. Their wild ancestors and lightening storms.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese.
#36
If an unfurled umbrella forms a barrier between your eyes and the dog's face, then that is probably helpful. Direct eye contact with a wary or belligerent dog is a threat to them and they may react aggressively. And it could be used as a shield between your legs and the dog.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via Podiensis (2016); Camino Portugues (2017); Via Regia (2018)
#37
Wow, thank you everyone for sharing so many good pieces of advice, great stories and nice photos! When I saw the first reference to 'lovely dogs' above, I immediately thought it was a sarcastic remark, until I kept scrolling down...

It seems that the recommended strategy can be summarised as follows:

1. Avoid pre-dawn departure if possible.
2. Stay on the Camino and away from private property.
3. Ignore any barking dog and avoid eye contact.
4. In the unfortunate event of any close encounter, tap my walking pole forcefully. (However, with the rubber tip on, I doubt that my pole could produce anything more than a muted thud...)
5. Open my umbrella.
6. Pick up a rock.
7. Throw the rock.
8. Yell in a foreign language (I may try Chinese).

Have I missed anything? (I don't have any taser, unfortunately!)
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
#38
The ability to run faster than the pilgrim next to you helps too!

Waving my staff about while slowly backing off out of angry dogs territory has always worked for me. One dog REALLY did not like my umbrella I was using, but calmed down when I put it away. It just didn't like umbrellas apparently.

Davey
 
T

Tigger

Guest
#40
View attachment 32573 Hoping to meet these two again later this month. My wife finds it almost possible not to stop and, if appropriate, play with every dog we meet!
Oh Dear!

It is time for me to 'come out' publically on this forum.

Yes, I am a fully paid up member of DA.

(Dogs Anonymous)
If there is a dog, I will gravitate towards it and love it and want to take it home.
Kanga has made it quite clear that there will have to be some ground rules on our joint Camino experience.
NO encouraging dogs as I can't afford the fares and Rabies injections home to Australia.
NO because I already have two gorgeous dogs.
NO because it might be a stray and we will both feel terrible for eternity.
NO because Spaniards have a different ethos about dogs and some of them are working dogs...just like in Australia where they are treated much the same and tied up yet not particularly mistreated.
NO because............ (sigh)
 

Coleen Clark

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
#41
All of the dogs I met were either friendly or not interested in this old woman. (I have to write this quietly because Coriander my cat is up on the desk, and does not know I am friendly to dogs.)
There is one breed of dogs on the Camino I encountered over and over again.
Highly intelligent, carries his or her own pack, never has to consult the guidebook. This breed comes in all colors and sizes, and usually has a pet human or two along for company. Please do not approach unless you check with the humans first. The dog may be thinking deep thoughts and would not like to be disturbed.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#42
@Tigger, are you sure you don't want to walk with me instead of boring old @Kanga?
;):p:D
My last dog died almost a very long time ago and I still can't help but see certain objects only as things to play fetch with.
I deal with dogs on the camino by respecting their space if they're working dogs, scratching the chins, ears, backs, or bellies of those who are obviously friendly pets, and definitely letting the sleeping ones lie.
And feeling compassion for the ones (like this one) who have to watch an endless parade of friends walking by but can't get out to play.
 

Attachments

Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#43
We met plenty of barking Dogs, but they were just protecting their territory' usually a farm yard. If ignored they soon went quiet as we passed by. We are dog lovers and normally quite OK around them. I guess dog owners are more used to dog behaviour.

The only place we encountered very aggressive dogs was in Brea (between Arzua and Lavacolla)
A pack of 5 or 6 mid sized dogs tried to 'chase' us down the road as we walked from a Casa Rural to a bar for dinner. We both picked up hefty sticks and kept a close eye on them as they followed us for 30-40 metres. For a lone walker they would indeed be a scary sight.

The owner of the CR said the dogs are well known and a nuisance. They seemed to belong to a local farmer. Hopefully they are gone or tethered by now....

Note. They were up a side road, not on the main Camino. So you probably won't see them.
 

Gazelle2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
19th May 2014
#46
Have walked Portuguese Le Puy and Frances, I came across countless dogs I would like to have smuggled home, I have never once felt intimated by one, having said that I am a real dog lover and met loads of fantastic lovely dogs
 

Attachments

Gazelle2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
19th May 2014
#47
Oh Dear!

It is time for me to 'come out' publically on this forum.

Yes, I am a fully paid up member of DA.

(Dogs Anonymous)
If there is a dog, I will gravitate towards it and love it and want to take it home.
Kanga has made it quite clear that there will have to be some ground rules on our joint Camino experience.
NO encouraging dogs as I can't afford the fares and Rabies injections home to Australia.
NO because I already have two gorgeous dogs.
NO because it might be a stray and we will both feel terrible for eternity.
NO because Spaniards have a different ethos about dogs and some of them are working dogs...just like in Australia where they are treated much the same and tied up yet not particularly mistreated.
NO because............ (sigh)
Lady after my own heart !!!!
 

Coleen Clark

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
#48
@Tigger, are you sure you don't want to walk with me instead of boring old @Kanga?
;):p:D
My last dog died almost a very long time ago and I still can't help but see certain objects only as things to play fetch with.
I deal with dogs on the camino by respecting their space if they're working dogs, scratching the chins, ears, backs, or bellies of those who are obviously friendly pets, and definitely letting the sleeping ones lie.
And feeling compassion for the ones (like this one) who have to watch an endless parade of friends walking by but can't get out to play.
ARRRGGGH! The bones are *just* out of reach!
I would not be as calm as this dog seems if someone put CHOCOLATE just out of reach of me.
I'd be kicking those bones closer, or throwing them over the fence.
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
#50
Wow, thank you everyone for sharing so many good pieces of advice, great stories and nice photos! When I saw the first reference to 'lovely dogs' above, I immediately thought it was a sarcastic remark, until I kept scrolling down...

It seems that the recommended strategy can be summarised as follows:

1. Avoid pre-dawn departure if possible.
2. Stay on the Camino and away from private property.
3. Ignore any barking dog and avoid eye contact.
4. In the unfortunate event of any close encounter, tap my walking pole forcefully. (However, with the rubber tip on, I doubt that my pole could produce anything more than a muted thud...)
5. Open my umbrella.
6. Pick up a rock.
7. Throw the rock.
8. Yell in a foreign language (I may try Chinese).

Have I missed anything? (I don't have any taser, unfortunately!)
You don't actually have to pick up a rock; you can feign picking up a rock. The action of swooping down with your hand as if to pick up a rock is usually enough for the dog to recognize as a looming and viable defensive action. This is a useful tactic in situations where there are no rocks available that are suited for hurling at dogs.
 

jagoca

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Via de la Plata (Seville to Santiago) in spring 2017
#51
I'm walking the via de la plata at the moment (Seville to Santiago) and have had a few situations with big barking dogs running towards me; one even wriggled under what I thought was a secure fence to come bounding up to me, it was the size of a small shetland pony, I was terrified! I knew the advice never to look them in the eye, I certainly wasn't going to turn back so...I sung to the dogs, in a gentle soothing voice, just hymns or a pop song that was in my head, even when they were jumping up, I sung and they calmed right down and trotted alongside me as docile as anything.
 

Paddy Brock

Paddy J Brock Ireland
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2014, Camino Frances / Plus Finisterre 2015, Camino Portugese 2016 and Via de la plata April 2017 in planning
#52
More than once I have been warned about the dogs and the usefulness of a walking pole / stick - particularly on the Camino Portugues, but I guess the situation is similar on other routes as well. (I heard that it is, or at least used to be, a known issue on the Le Puy route.) But what exactly do you do with the pole / stick when confronted by one (or God forbid, more) of them? Do you use it to hit them (which I would be hesitant to do, for fear of provoking them further), or do you brandish the pole frantically at them?

And is there any advice on avoiding being near them in the first place apart from not walking the Camino? Any particular parts of the Camino that are particularly 'dangerous' in this regard? As a very small person weighing 45kg walking alone, I can imagine how easily I could be overcome by a mad dog, hence my nervousness.

Thanks!
Get yourself an ultrasonic dog repeller. Harmless to the dog and you cant hear it . Have a look on line. I carry one all the time
 

Ray J

Where exactly are we?
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2015)
Portuguese & Rota Vicentina (2016)
Le Puy & Paris to Moulins (2017)
Via Francengina (2018)
#53
I have used steps similar to those described in this article: http://www.wikihow.com/Handle-a-Dog-Attack . One thing to note is to not hit a dog on the head - they have thick heads and you'll only make them angrier. And where the article says to yell "Back away!", I think it's better to shout "No!" since that's likely a word the dog has heard.

All that said, we had absolutely no problems with dogs on the Frances. We would laugh because we'd see them coming down the trail acting like they had a business meeting to get to, and they had no time to waste on us.

On the Rota Vicentina and Portuguese, however, every dog seemed to take it personally. Fortunately, they were all behind locked yards so it was all just sound and fury. Except, that is, at one spot where there were four unlocked dogs guarding cattle. We were almost past them all when the alpha dog gave the command, and the others charged us. Frightening, yes, but by following the directions above, we escaped unscathed (albeit, with our hearts in our throats).
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2016
#54
Our experience on the Portuguese was, that there were a lot of snarling dogs behind fences. Sometimes they seemed to wait until you were right at the fence and it would nearly give me a heart attack every time!!! We did run into a few outside of the fences and I found if you turn to face them and hold your hiking stick out in front of you and yell "NO!" you can get past them. The minute I turned from facing them they would come at me again. Eye contact seems to help. They were only interested in chasing us from their direct territory.
 
H

HighlandsHiker

Guest
#55
One helpful thing is not to deviate from the route map because dog owners might not have secured their more aggressive dogs to protect hikers. Once, my Brierley map looked clear that the road I was on went into the next town, so I stayed on the road instead of taking the dirt path that branched off. It didn't go to the next town at all, and I ended up down a road where three of the biggest dogs I'd ever seen were protecting a lumber yard. Fortunately, the owner was closeby and pulled the biggest snarling one away that was advancing not 5 feet away.

Another time at the entrance of a town there was a dog with a very strange habit. He seemed friendly, and was going up to pilgrims and sniffing their legs, but then opening his jaws and placing them gently around one's lower leg. He didn't bite, but left slime and worried pilgrims.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Primitivo (July 2016)
#56
But what exactly do you do with the pole / stick when confronted by one (or God forbid, more) of them?
Most dogs I encountered while walking in Spain and France were quite friendly, however I did run into "iffy" situations three times. I had read to swing your pole slowly and rhythmically back and forth in front of your body, between you and the dog, while keeping your face towards the dog. I didn't have poles or a stick, so I swung my water bottle instead. That worked well in the first case, with a barking dog blocking my way on the road. He stayed at a "safe" distance" let me pass him on the one-lane road, although he eyed me warily the whole time. I guess the theory is that it's harder for the dog to focus on you, with that movement in the way, and if they try to lunge and bite, they'll more likely bite the pole (or stick or bottle) than you. A different time, I saw a man stomp his foot and say NO firmly at the dog. That worked, and that particular dog was snarly and snapping at us. I was terrified that time, and not sure I would have had the guts to stand my ground against that dog, but it worked. So the next time, on my own, I tried to imitate the man, but the dog would only stop snapping at my heels for a moment, then start up again as soon as I started walking again. So I had to keep stopping, stomping, and saying NO, every few feet, until I got out of his "range," and then suddenly he stopped. That one was a much smaller dog, so the bottle didn't seem adequate to get "in between" us without me bending over double, but a pole/stick would have probably worked better and made me feel safer. But like I said, the majority of dogs I encountered were big softies just wanting a pet.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
#57
He didn't bite, but left slime and worried pilgrims.
LOL And I enjoyed the many soft dog photos too.
I have met a few scary dogs when on less populated Caminos. The 'pretend to pick up a rock' thing does work, but there's also another option: most farm / village dogs have a pretty rigid sense of their territory, and they will run to the 'edge' of it as you approach it and stop and bark at you. You can just stop and shout 'Hola! El perro! Por favor, el perro!' in an assertive but friendly manner. And the owner is nearly always about and will come out and call off the dog. Just be sure to thank them. This worked for me many times and is a nice way to meet people too.
But most dogs I have met were wonderful and friendly.
 

marbuck

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Condom to Pamplona April 2016.
Le Puy to Condom France - April-May 2015.
Roncesvalles to Santiago April - May 2014
Finisterre to Muxia May 2014
#58
I was attacked by a dog on the Le Puy route, I still have the ripped waterproof trousers, if it was not for my wife striking the dog with her walking pole I fear I would have been seriously injured. Not all dogs are nice so beware.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago - May 2017
St Jean Pied d Port to Finisterre - April 2018
#59
I'm walking the via de la plata at the moment (Seville to Santiago) and have had a few situations with big barking dogs running towards me; one even wriggled under what I thought was a secure fence to come bounding up to me, it was the size of a small shetland pony, I was terrified! I knew the advice never to look them in the eye, I certainly wasn't going to turn back so...I sung to the dogs, in a gentle soothing voice, just hymns or a pop song that was in my head, even when they were jumping up, I sung and they calmed right down and trotted alongside me as docile as anything.
M
I'm walking the via de la plata at the moment (Seville to Santiago) and have had a few situations with big barking dogs running towards me; one even wriggled under what I thought was a secure fence to come bounding up to me, it was the size of a small shetland pony, I was terrified! I knew the advice never to look them in the eye, I certainly wasn't going to turn back so...I sung to the dogs, in a gentle soothing voice, just hymns or a pop song that was in my head, even when they were jumping up, I sung and they calmed right down and trotted alongside me as docile as anything.
That is the cutest thing ever Jagoca! I love this idea x
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
#60
I was wondering how those super bright "tactical" flashlights might work for chasing away dogs. I found a thread on this topic on a forum devoted to discussing those lights. Most responses said they were ineffective.

The webpage I read is at http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb...ective-Are-Flashlights-In-Keeping-Dogs-At-Bay
Seriously off post so will probably be deleted but my brother in law tried using one of those flashlights on a snoring fellow bunk mate. It did stop him snoring. He turned over to get away from the light and in the process let out a large fart.
PS never had a problem with dogs on the CF but was so hopeful it would happen at Foncebaddon. Alas...
 

Davey Boyd

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Seven Compostelas in Three years and counting......
#61
Seriously off post so will probably be deleted but my brother in law tried using one of those flashlights on a snoring fellow bunk mate. It did stop him snoring. He turned over to get away from the light and in the process let out a large fart.
PS never had a problem with dogs on the CF but was so hopeful it would happen at Foncebaddon. Alas...
Yeah Im too new to have met 'the wild dogs of Foncebaddon', but my mate got bit by a donkey there. Maybe we could start the rumor off about the 'wild donkeys of Foncebaddon'?
 

Coleen Clark

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked August 2015, planning on walking August 2017
#62
I'm walking the via de la plata at the moment (Seville to Santiago) and have had a few situations with big barking dogs running towards me; one even wriggled under what I thought was a secure fence to come bounding up to me, it was the size of a small shetland pony, I was terrified! I knew the advice never to look them in the eye, I certainly wasn't going to turn back so...I sung to the dogs, in a gentle soothing voice, just hymns or a pop song that was in my head, even when they were jumping up, I sung and they calmed right down and trotted alongside me as docile as anything.
Now this makes sense to me, because when I sing, dogs howl. They do! Must be trying to cover the noise that's coming from me. But if they are howling they can't be biting, I guaran-told-ya.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
#63
Does Runa the Mastiff still follow people from Villafranca del Bierzo all up the mountain? Please tell me she does.
 

GreatDane

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF to Burgos Sept/Oct 2014, Burgos to Astorga April 2016, Astorga to SdC 2017
#64
As a former Great Dane Mom, I love the giant breeds (it's the little ones I am leary of). I got a big laugh when walking past Camino farms and the farm dogs would be barking at the group ahead of me while they ran past in panic. The big dogs must be able to read my good vibes/big dog love because I could walk by and I wouldn't hear a peep. I also told them that they were buen perro and perro hermosa.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte at the moment, Camino Frances, Camino Ingles in 2013 - 2014, Camino Lebaniego
#65
More than once I have been warned about the dogs and the usefulness of a walking pole / stick - particularly on the Camino Portugues, but I guess the situation is similar on other routes as well. (I heard that it is, or at least used to be, a known issue on the Le Puy route.) But what exactly do you do with the pole / stick when confronted by one (or God forbid, more) of them? Do you use it to hit them (which I would be hesitant to do, for fear of provoking them further), or do you brandish the pole frantically at them?

And is there any advice on avoiding being near them in the first place apart from not walking the Camino? Any particular parts of the Camino that are particularly 'dangerous' in this regard? As a very small person weighing 45kg walking alone, I can imagine how easily I could be overcome by a mad dog, hence my nervousness.

Thanks!
Hi
I have had only once a dog blocking my way (between Finisterre and Muxia) / it ran away immediately as i pretended to pick up a stone to pelt after it.
This might work on most dogs "on the loose" as they associate this with the pain of being hit.
This was just one situation on two and a half caminos.
All the Best
 

Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
#66
Never turn your back on a dog coming at you
"Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon!" -- Peter Venkman in Ghost Busters ;)

Absolutely true. The only time I've ever been bitten (more of a pants-leg-tearing pinch, actually) was by a very small, very nervous dog that I neither saw nor heard. It made a hit-and-run attack from behind.

And never, NEVER run from a dog, or any canine for that matter. Running triggers the chase-reflex and practically guarantees that you'll be bitten.
 

Glenn Rowe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
#67
Except, that is, at one spot where there were four unlocked dogs guarding cattle. We were almost past them all when the alpha dog gave the command, and the others charged us. Frightening, yes, but by following the directions above, we escaped unscathed (albeit, with our hearts in our throats).
I wasn't there so I cannot say this with any certainty, but it is possible that, once you got out of their sight, they started laughing their doggy tails off.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF15, CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF17, CP17, CdN, CM, CF18, LePuy19
#68
Yeah Im too new to have met 'the wild dogs of Foncebaddon', but my mate got bit by a donkey there. Maybe we could start the rumor off about the 'wild donkeys of Foncebaddon'?
I'll go just a bit farther off the grid and mention a friend of mine from the Peace Corps who lost a finger to a donkey when he petted it; he was and will forever be remember as "Donkey John."
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2013/2014)
Via Podiensis, Camino Francés (2015)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#69
And never, NEVER run from a dog, or any canine for that matter. Running triggers the chase-reflex and practically guarantees that you'll be bitten.
That is exactly what I did. It was somewhere in Northern France. An angry, barking dog jumped through an unexpected hole in the fence and came after me. It was just a reflex to start running. Stupid, I know. While I was running with my 10k pack on my back, I thought: 'I am not gonna win this...'. But there he was, St. James. The dog stopped, still barking fiercely. I might have run out of his territory.

I still have a bit of a fear for dogs on quiet routes. It was the most important reason why I quit the Camino de Invierno. Too many fiercely barking loose dogs...
 
#70
I am another one of those who has a ridiculous irrational fear of dogs, which comes from an awful childhood bite. I am not even brave enough to bend down and pretend to pick up a rock. I walk solitary caminos most years, and frequently come across dogs that have planted themselves in front of me and are barking loudly and sometimes meanly. My technique is always the same. I stop in my tracks. I start to yell, "oiga, oiga" to get the attention of the owner. The dog keeps barking but since I have stopped at the point that he started barking, he doesn't advance towards me.

At some point all of that commotion will bring out the owner. She/he inevitably says, "pasa pasa, no hace nada." (go on, the dog won't bite.) But I always just stay put and tell the owner that I am afraid and that I will go on once she comes to get the dog. It always works.

There are many reasons not to walk a Camino, but dogs are not one of them, IMO.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#71
I never had a single incident with a vicious dog anytime I walked the Camino. Sure, I saw many dogs just like everyone else, but no problems and if they looked territorial or were at work moving or protecting livestock, I gave them wide berth, never looked them in the eye and moved on.
I never came across the packs of wild dogs hellbent on tearing hapless pilgrims apart as described in a couple of popular "non-fiction" walking the Camino accounts. Never had to do battle with a staff or sword. :D
I did have two incidents with large working dogs where they forced me to play with them. It was terrible. The first one was near Puente la Reina. A massive mastiff (he must have weighed 75 kilos) that peeled away from his flock and descended upon me and forced me to give up a sizeable chunk of my bocadillo and then forced me to play and roll around with him in the grass for a few minutes. It was horrible.
Then there was the large powerful mastiff/shepard cross after O'Cebreiro that forced me to play fetch with him with a large stick for over an hour. Throwing the stick, tug of war with it. Oh the humanity. He was relentless in his insistence on playing.
:rolleyes:
Mark, I can't tell if you are joking or were really at the mercy of those dogs! If you were forced to roll around, then yikes! Hope I never have an experience like that. On the other hand, if you're "messing with us", just know that I am quite gullible! o_O
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2013/2014)
Via Podiensis, Camino Francés (2015)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#72
There are many reasons not to walk a Camino, but dogs are not one of them, IMO.
It shouldn't be, I agree. But I just couldn't get over my (mostly irrational) fear. I came to the Invierno to enjoy walking in solitude, but I wasn't enjoying myself. That time fear won, but I will get over it, I will.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. 2019? Who knows! ;-)
#73
It shouldn't be, I agree. But I just couldn't get over my (mostly irrational) fear. I came to the Invierno to enjoy walking in solitude, but I wasn't enjoying myself. That time fear won, but I will get over it, I will.
Luka, I hope I don't speak too hastily and that my fear doesn't return....:confused: I just wanted to say, I'm sure you will get over it, eventually. I did and I never thought I would! I was attacked by a dog (an Alsatian) when I was seven and ...the fear stays with you. But.... walking on my own and encountering really wild, dangerous dogs and somehow surviving.... I am now not so scared of 'civilized' ones.... There is a big difference.
Do like @peregrina2000 says, stay put and yell until someone comes 'El perro!!!! Tengo miedo' or something like that.
That is what I used to do. In Spain, someone always came or called the dog, if you make enough of a racket lol. Or alternatively carry a 'dog dazer', I am still not sure whether it works but it gives you 'Dutch courage'...
I wish you well and I sympathise.

PS just to make you laugh...I am now scared of....cows :rolleyes::D
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#74
Mark, I can't tell if you are joking or were really at the mercy of those dogs! If you were forced to roll around, then yikes! Hope I never have an experience like that. On the other hand, if you're "messing with us", just know that I am quite gullible! o_O
ha ha...:D
Totally facetious. They were lovable, big dogs that were still playful puppies at heart. My favorite kind. Dogs like that instantly turn me into a kid again and I gotta play with them. Dogs are smart, and I think they gravitate to the one's they can sucker out of some food or some play time.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#75
I am another one of those who has a ridiculous irrational fear of dogs, which comes from an awful childhood bite. I am not even brave enough to bend down and pretend to pick up a rock. I walk solitary caminos most years, and frequently come across dogs that have planted themselves in front of me and are barking loudly and sometimes meanly. My technique is always the same. I stop in my tracks. I start to yell, "oiga, oiga" to get the attention of the owner. The dog keeps barking but since I have stopped at the point that he started barking, he doesn't advance towards me.

At some point all of that commotion will bring out the owner. She/he inevitably says, "pasa pasa, no hace nada." (go on, the dog won't bite.) But I always just stay put and tell the owner that I am afraid and that I will go on once she comes to get the dog. It always works.

There are many reasons not to walk a Camino, but dogs are not one of them, IMO.
I too, have an irrational fear of large dogs. I was bitten by a rottweiler ten years ago on the underside of my upper arm. It punctured and bruised pretty bad, but thankfully no scars. It was unleashed and the owner said as it ran towards me, "Don't worry, he won't bite."
 
M

Mark Lee

Guest
#76
I too, have an irrational fear of large dogs. I was bitten by a rottweiler ten years ago on the underside of my upper arm. It punctured and bruised pretty bad, but thankfully no scars. It was unleashed and the owner said as it ran towards me, "Don't worry, he won't bite."
Don't get me wrong about dogs. I see the owning of a large one to be a responsibility akin to owning any other weapon. I have no tolerance for large vicious ones that attack unprovoked, or that are allowed to run dangerously loose by their owners. I ran into my share of them as a cop, and we had to send one to Valhalla from time to time when no other options were available.
I never ran into any like that on the Camino. The big ones I saw were working breeds. If they were at work, I gave them wide berth and no eye contact. The two playful ones I encountered were just enjoying a brief respite from chores.
 
#77
It shouldn't be, I agree. But I just couldn't get over my (mostly irrational) fear. I came to the Invierno to enjoy walking in solitude, but I wasn't enjoying myself. That time fear won, but I will get over it, I will.
Hi, Luka, my comment wasn't directed at you, hope it didn't come off that way. But now of course I remember your experience on the Invierno. Good to see you back on the forum again, are you walking soon? These dogs can really mess with your mind, and I remember some of the forum discussions when you were posting from the Invierno. I really have found the "stop walking and shout" approach to work like a charm -- except for once when I was in the mountains and it was a shephard dog. The shephard was way behind the flock going up the mountain just the dog and the animals. It was a long wait, but it was beautiful scenery on the Olvidado so I just sat and had an apple. Every 10 minutes or so I would get as close as I needed to get to make the dog start barking, and finally the shephard appeared!
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (2013/2014)
Via Podiensis, Camino Francés (2015)
Camino del Norte (2017)
#78
@peregrina2000 Yup, that's me! I didn't feel offended :)
And yes, big plans ahead! Will be walking the Norte this summer (starting from Irún the 5th of July), might switch to the Primitivo. After that I'll stay in Spain for maybe a full year. I am thinking of moving to the Spanish countryside and I want to get to know the country better. I will be travelling around, volunteering (hospitalera as well, I hope) and working as a digital nomad. I thought that a Camino might be a good start for a life change ;-) To get a little bit back on topic again, I will look for a volunteering project with dogs as well, to learn to understand them better.

I just realised how irrational my fear of loose countryside dogs is... I have been bitten by a dog, I just remembered it. Must have been about two years ago. Here in the Netherlands. A woman was walking her nice looking Husky. When I passed her, the dog bit me in the leg, totally unexpected. It wasn't a real bite, I just got a big bruise. The experience hasn't impressed me at all. I had almost forgotten it. But when I meet a fiercely barking dog without its owner in the countryside, I could climb a tree out of fear...
 

Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
#79
Twice I have been warned off by large Spanish sheep dogs. One came running at me along the highway! I was concerned but really did not feel like they would attack. They were just warning me away from their territory. I talked to them in Spanish, using a soothing tone, and backed away with no problems. The one and only time I really thought I was going to be attacked by a dog I was laughing so hard and even considered pick him up by the scruff of the neck using my thumb and forefinger. Cutest little Yorkie I have seen in a long time but he meant business!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015
VDLP 2016
Portuguese March 2017
Sanabres September 2017
#80
On the Portuguese at the moment (walking from Lisbon) and I have to say that the dogs here are the most feisty I've met on any Camino. In fact one particularly persistent and nasty fellow ' ran into' one of my walking poles which changed his tune a bit. (Not hard - I like dogs...) (But prefer cats obviously. Never been attacked by a cat on the Camino....)
 

tillyjones

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances June 2015
VDLP May 2017
del Norte Sept 2018
#81
I too, have an irrational fear of large dogs. I was bitten by a rottweiler ten years ago on the underside of my upper arm. It punctured and bruised pretty bad, but thankfully no scars. It was unleashed and the owner said as it ran towards me, "Don't worry, he won't bite."
What makes that an irrational fear?!? Seems quite rational to me. I'm petrified of dogs and now this thread has made me feel quite uncomfortable with my upcoming walk.
 
P

pilgr

Guest
#82
It is illegal in Spain (and most of Europe).

Welcome to the forum by the way!

Davey
Not true that pepper spray is illegal in Spain!

I bought it in a reputable pilgrim shop in Astorga, and had the little can in my front pocket for most of the Invierno. And when I was done with the can, I actually walked into a police station and asked the police to take it off my hands as I was headed back on an airplane. The police officer was quite friendly, and discussed the pepper spray they use etc. No mention of me committing a crime.

The scoop I have heard on pepper spray in Spain is that if you use it, you better have a pretty compelling reason to tell the police why you used it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
#83
I never had a single incident with a vicious dog anytime I walked the Camino. Sure, I saw many dogs just like everyone else, but no problems and if they looked territorial or were at work moving or protecting livestock, I gave them wide berth, never looked them in the eye and moved on.
I never came across the packs of wild dogs hellbent on tearing hapless pilgrims apart as described in a couple of popular "non-fiction" walking the Camino accounts. Never had to do battle with a staff or sword. :D
I did have two incidents with large working dogs where they forced me to play with them. It was terrible. The first one was near Puente la Reina. A massive mastiff (he must have weighed 75 kilos) that peeled away from his flock and descended upon me and forced me to give up a sizeable chunk of my bocadillo and then forced me to play and roll around with him in the grass for a few minutes. It was horrible.
Then there was the large powerful mastiff/shepard cross after O'Cebreiro that forced me to play fetch with him with a large stick for over an hour. Throwing the stick, tug of war with it. Oh the humanity. He was relentless in his insistence on playing.
:rolleyes:
Fancy coming across your post Mark. I recognised your account of the Mastiff and the Bocadillo lol. Ray here from Ireland who walked with you for a couple of weeks on the camino Fraces. Small world, small world !
 

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