You will meet dogs when touring in Turkey and some of them will appear quite fierce but you can make your way safely through the Turkish countryside by following a few simple guidelines.
The majority of the dogs fall into these categories:
- Most of the domestic dogs in towns and villages are usually very docile and won’t even notice you. The viscious one are usually tied up and will bark a lot.
- The stray dogs I’ve come across have always been very submissive though you may get the odd bark if there’s a pack of them.
- Sheeps dogs will appear to be very aggressive but normally won’t attack you. They’re just defending their herd against a potential threat.
- I think the dogs to watch out for are the ones on isolated settlements where the owners may let a more aggressive dog run free.
A few simple rules: as with any animal never get between (or near to) it and it’s escape route, food, young or the thing it’s guarding. This threatens their very existence and they won’t like it.
Don’t surprise them. If you see one first, as you often will (unless you are downwind of them) dismount and make a quiet natural sound so that they know you are there. Never show any fear, run away or try to out run one on your bike – unless you’re on a very long steep down hill – cos they just love a chase.
If they start barking then standstill for a moment and, if they approach you, raise and wave your stick (or walking pole) which you will definitely be carrying. It seems to me that all Turkish dogs know what this means and even from a distance will cower. Throwing stones also works well, even if you make a bad shot, so keep a couple handy in your pocket at all times. Keep your distance but maintain eye contact and once you’re happy they are not going to come any closer then very slowly continue on your way. Be prepared to wait or make a detour if their flock is in your path. Use your bike as a defence shield if it makes you feel better. If your road is blocked eventually a shepard will appear and will be totally unconcerned. “There’s nothing to be frightened of” as one once said to me when I was berating his barking pack.
You might feel better carrying pepper spray (which you can find in markets) or even CS gas which is illegal but can be bought under the counter in hunting shops. If a very nasty rogue dog did get hold of someone it would get them off. The shops might also be try to sell you a stun-gun or even a pistol but I think they could get you into more trouble than there’re worth. And don’t be tempted to bring any of that stuff back – even in your checked luggage – as you’ll probably get a prison sentence. Just Google it.