You don’t have to be a dog owner to know that dogs are not big fans of motorcycles. In fact, most dogs will try to avoid them at all costs. And if a dog is forced to share their space with a motorcycle you’d better be prepared for some very unhappy growling and barking.
So why is it that dogs dislike motorcycles so much?
Dogs detest motorcycles because they fear and feel threatened by motorcycles. Motorcycles are loud, vibrate a lot & give off exhaust, all of these things make dogs feel threatened, irritated, and fearful of motorcycles. Dogs heightened sense of smell and hearing also don’t help the situation. Ultimately, motorcycles also make dogs feel like their territory is threatened and a dog’s reaction to a motorcycle is instinctual in nature.
Let’s break down the 10 key reasons why dogs hate motorcycles:
1. Dogs can Sense Fear
Dogs can sense fear, adrenaline, and anxiety from humans, so feel the bike riders’ adrenaline & anxiety. Did you know that a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than humans? It has 220 million scent receptors in its nose and we only have 5 million. Dogs are amazing!
They can detect fear and anxiety through these smells. When a motorcyclist is riding their senses are heightened and they are always on edge, dogs are able to sense this.
2. Dogs have Sensitive Ears
Motorcycles are loud and with dogs’ sensitive ears they can hurt! Did you know that dogs have a very good sense of hearing? They are able to hear higher pitches than humans, which is why they can hear the high-pitched sounds used in whistles.
And when it comes to motorcycles, they aren’t exactly the quietest mode of transport.
The loud sounds that motorcycles make can hurt dogs’ ears and cause them a lot of discomfort. Accelerating & honking of a horn is very loud sounds for many dogs.
3. Motorcycle exhaust can irritate a dog’s nose
Motorcycles emit a lot of exhaust which can irritate a dog’s nose, eyes, and throat. No one likes to be exposed to the smog of exhaust fumes for long periods of time, and dogs are no different. As mentioned above, a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than humans, which also means that they are extremely irritated by the smell of exhaust.
4. Motorcycles threaten the Territory
A dog’s need to protect its territory is instinctual, and something that they have to learn as a puppy. It is one of their primary instincts.
A dog’s territory can be anything from a room in your house to all areas that you explore with them in the lead (walking, running, etc.)
When a motorcycle enters this territory it could cause a fight-or-flight response as well as territorial aggression because the motorcyclist may feel like they are dominating the environment that your dog has chosen as its own.
5. Motorcycle Engine Vibrations unsettle Nearby Dogs
The vibrations from the motorcycle engine can unsettle nearby dogs. This is another big reason why dogs dislike motorcycles because they feel like their balance is being disrupted by a large machine. This isn’t just motorcycles but heavy machinery, in general, that affects their balance.
6. Some Dogs like to Show Dominance
Some dogs just have a need to control everything in their environment and when a motorcycle invades this space it makes them feel threatened. They then use loud barking and chasing to convey that feeling of threatening dominance over this space.
7. Some dogs are afraid of being left behind
This one happens a lot! Dogs are left behind and they freak out. They start barking loudly, get scared, and try to chase after the motorcycle so that they can keep up with their owner. If the dog gets out, the result is them running off into traffic or getting hit by a car when distracted by chasing after the motorcycle.
8. Some dogs may be afraid of the “helmet head” that their owner is wearing or associate it with something else they’re scared of
This one is far more antidotal than fact but stick with me. Dogs are used to registering our emotions, facial expressions, etc. When we wear a helmet we are hiding this from them and this might be scary to them. Because they have trouble reading our facial expressions with this on, it makes them think we are angry or upset.
9. Motorcycles are small and fast which causes dogs to chase them out of prey drive
Dogs who see a motorcycle as prey may give chase to capture it. This is really the same as the dog that chases the ice-cream truck down the road, but motorcycles are much smaller and can come across as much more appealing to them. This can create some unsafe situations on the road between motorcycles and cars if the dog is not kept on a leash.
10. The dog is just scared
Whilst not as big as cars, motorcycles are still large and loud when compared to a dog. Honestly, they might just be scared of this unknown creature. Whether it’s flight or fight when a dog feels threatened it’s going to bark. Getting a dog trainer can help with making your dog feel less threatened.
If you are riding a motorcycle in referring traffic and see other dogs run free towards you, the best bet is to speed up and move out from the area before any mishap occurs. Every rider has a first time experience with dogs where you have to act quickly and sensibly.