Cycling in Thailand and Dealing with Dogs

Over the last couple of weeks I have grown to enjoy my mornings out on the bike. It is a break from the computer for one thing, and I get to once again appreciate the beauty of the Thai countryside. It also is part of my plan to get back into good physical shape. The one thing that is detracting from the enjoyment of these nice little jaunts is the packs of dogs that terrorize our local neighborhood – I’m not using the word ‘terrorize’ for effect here because it really does seem to be that way.

Thailand Dog Problem

When I first moved to Thailand the problem of Soi dogs came as a bit of a surprise. I was used to living in western countries where dogs aren’t allowed to run wild in the town and cities. I remember that in the beginning the sight of them would make me anxious- especially when I heard the horror stories from some of the other ex-pats who had been bitten or chased by these mutts. Over the years I have become used to the sight of these dogs on the Thai streets, and I have never really had a problem until now. I’m usually a big fan of the K9 and our Shih Tzu is a valuable member of the family.

In the past I have questioned my Thai neighbors to find out why there seems to be no attempt to control these dogs. I had assumed they were all wild but apparently many of them aren’t. The usual explanation is that it is connected to the Buddhist idea of not causing harm to sentient beings, and this was an argument that I can sympathize with. I feel uncomfortable with the idea of killing dogs to brighten up neighborhoods. After a few years of living in Thailand though, it has become obvious to me that this is often used as a convenient excuse. The way animals are transported here can be quite horrific with trucks jam packed with living creatures. I also lived in a Thai village for many years and they would kill anything that moved and stick it into a cooking pot. I think the real problem with these dogs is that nobody wants to take responsibility for the problem.

Mad Dogs of Minburi

The fact that dogs are allowed to run wild means that I will often hear about people getting badly bitten by them. One of our neighbor kids recently got mauled by a dog while playing outside. The owner paid a measly 1,000 THB (about 25 Euro) and the dog was still allowed to roam the streets. An elderly resident used to cycle everywhere but no longer feels comfortable doing this after a dog knocked her off the bike. The owner was asked to keep his dog inside after this but he just refused – as far as he was concerned it just wasn’t his problem. The sad thing is that there is nothing that you can legally do here to make owners keep their dogs inside. The situation is made worse by the fact that a lot of dogs are no longer been cared for by their original owners and are just left to wander outside their previous homes. People regularly move house house but leave their dogs behind.

My First Bite from a Thai Dog

Although packs of dogs always make me edgy I had never been bitten or chased – that changed yesterday. We only moved to our new home a few weeks ago and one of the things that really appealed to me was that it is a private street with hardly any traffic. I thought that this would be great for my son Timmy because it would give him somewhere to play. It soon became obvious though, that dogs were a huge problem on our road. Everyone has their own fenced in gardens but many people just let their pets loose on the road – people get bitten and complain but the owners won’t do anything.

During my first few outings on the bike I didn’t have any problem getting past the dogs, but the last couple of days have been a complete nightmare. On my way out of our estate yesterday morning a large dog just causally took a lunge at me and tried to bite – luckily he only managed to get my shoe. What worried me most was that there was no warning bark or anything. On my way back home the same dog was waiting only this time he had a friend. The two of them attacked and one managed to graze my foot. These dogs are really clever and they wait at the speed bump in the road because they know you need to slow down. This morning I decided to take another route out of the estate and another dog took a leap at my legs; obviously the word is out about me.

Dogs Just Bite

My wife went and complained to one of the owners of the dogs but he couldn’t care less. His attitude was basically that dogs bite and what are you going to do about it. The Mrs asked if he could keep the dog in his garden but he refused. I don’t like the idea of my wife fighting my battles, but in Thailand it is best if foreigners keep out of disputes with neighbors – it can really get nasty. I don’t know the solution to Thailand’s dog problem. I think if dog owners took more responsibility for their pets it would be a great help. Funnily enough, I think it is these dogs and not the wild dogs that are the real problem. It has taken a bit of fun out of my bike rides but I plan to keep at it; we will see what happens. Apparently a similar situation occurs in Taiwan and there is a really nice blog post about the problem of dogs and cycling by somebody who has experience with both countries (click here).

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3 thoughts on “Cycling in Thailand and Dealing with Dogs

  1. my suggestion to you is that you get pepper spray and use it on the dogs, and start a routine pattern of suing all owners of dogs that hassle you. both the dogs and the owners will eventually get the message.

    1. Thanks MJ, I don’t think I could bring myself to pepper spray a dog. I know that many of the locals take a stick with them when they go out on thier bikes just to frighten the dogs off. I don’t really want to get into arguments with neigbours about thier dogs as we have just moved into the area. I find the whole ‘save face’ culture hard to deal with at times. I’ll see what happens.

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