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Savage Dogs and Stone Throwing Kids in Turkey

So you’re planning you’re cycle touring route through Turkey, (or maybe you’re already there) and have heard, (as we had) the horror stories of stone throwing little brats all over the place and savage hounds of hell leaping out from every bush to give you rabies?

Well there’s good news and bad. The bad news is that they do exist, the good is that it’s probably not as bad as you’re imagining and in our experience, was confined to particular parts of the country. Most of Turkey we simply didn’t have a problem – the incidents we had with either kids or dogs were in the East between Erzurum and the Iran border; other riders we met and blogs we have read on the area have also reported similar experiences. The dogs may be a problem elsewhere too but the bratty kid thing really did seem confined to the far Eastern areas, (see our post on this portion of the ride for the insights on a local on this problem).

So here are our experiences and recommended strategies for dealing with the situations.

Dogs

Most people seem under the mistaken belief that its wild dogs which are the problem in Turkey, we didn’t find this to be the case at all; wild dogs don’t really have the same territory to ‘guard’ as their domestic counterparts and when we passed them always seemed docile.

Wild Puppy Attack

Wild Puppy Attack

It’s ‘owned’ dogs that come and chase you when you ride past their ‘patch’; they are always outside as Muslims see dogs as unclean animals and don’t allow them in the house – most owners have them tied up, but as you can imagine, some don’t bother.

How to Deal With Them

Dogs love to chase things and we found the trying to out cycle them only encouraged them; however, if you’ve got a downhill, good speed on the flats, or see the dogs coming from a distance, a turn of speed can be an effective way of negating the problem. However, we know of two incidents where trying to outrun dogs has led to the beasts sinking their fangs into a rear pannier and pulling it clean off the bike. Dang.

The best method we’ve found is to ride straight up to the dogs, stop and shout at them; most of them are cowards and don’t actually want a fight with something bigger and more aggressive than they are. Every time we have done this the dogs have backed off.

If all else fails we carry a small container of bear mace we picked up in Ankara; we had a situation where the dogs came from behind, snapping at our heels are stopping wasn’t really an option, (they did seem particularly vicious) so I gave them a blast with the bear mace and they soon backed off.

Bear Mace Can

The Last Resort... or First, Depending on Home Much You Hate Dogs

And before any animal hippies start posting outraged comments – we love dogs and would never condone bear maceing them in the face without good reason – it doesn’t permanently harm them but it will make them think twice about going after cycle tourists again.

Bratty Kids

Don’t get us wrong, most kids in Turkey are fine – they just want to chat to the weird cycling foreigner and their practice English. However, some, (and again, we only experienced this in the east) are little shits; throwing stones, sticks, bottles, abuse and in one case with a guy we met – a knife, at passing cycle tourists! This activity does seem to be confined to the edge of towns – in the centre there are too many adults to tell them off.

How to Deal With Them

A smile and a wave as you approach seems to work remarkably well; we’ve seen kids pick up stones and then just not do anything with them when you give them a wave. Also like dogs, if you see them pick something up, ride up to them, stop, and ask them what they are doing, they will look a bit sheepish and back off.

Option two, if they do insist on being little fuckers and throwing something at you I recommend, for the sake of cycle tourists to come, chasing them down and scaring the shit out of them. It’s very satisfying.

It’s worth noting that the actions of kids will very rarely be dangerous, the stones they throw are unlikely to cause any injury even if they did hit you, (which, chances are they won’t); but it is really infuriating and such a shame than most peoples last memories of cycling in a wonderful country like Turkey are marred by the actions of these brats.

So there you have it. Safe riding!

 

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