I enquired about running on my first day in Thailand and was told, “Never go faster than a walk and if you do, carry a stick or large rock for protection.”

This warning came from expats with several years of experience in the country but I still did not heed their advice. In the following days, I went for morning runs so carefree I hardly even noticed the dogs.

Then one day I was stopped dead in my tracks. Growls roared from of a pack of 10-15 stray dogs blocking the last curve on my route. Before I could reverse, I caught one of the dogs glaring at me and realized things might get worse if I turned back.

Instead, I followed the advice I was given and reached down for a rock. I approached slowly forward until a few motorbikes whizzed by, separating the pack so that it disbanded—I was saved.

It took a few days before I could muster the courage to run after that fierce encounter but I was determined not to stop. I continued almost daily during my two months in Thailand, discovering ways to cope with the dogs—and there are no rocks or sticks required.

Here are my top 5 tips for running in Thailand:

    1. Do a few test walks before jogging/running
Identify the trails where you want to go. Then try walking them during the same time frames when you would normally run. Watch for any stray dogs along the paths.

    2. Befriend a dog
This sounds silly but I swear one of the dogs where I run is my guardian angel. He walks ahead of me, growling and gnawing at any other dogs that approach. There is definitely a reason this species is called mans’ best friend.

3.Go off-road when you can
Most of the stray dogs I pass stay along the roadside where food stalls are set-up. Avoid them by trail running, a nice change of pace plus less chance of encountering stray dogs.

4.  Mask fear
Think happy thoughts and try not to be afraid. I think dogs can sense fear and it makes them nervous too. Taking a few deep breaths can help.

5.  Slow down
If there are intimidating dogs along the path, gradually slow down rather than coming to a full stop. Drastic movements can cause more attention. Even when they look vicious, most dogs approach to investigate what is going on. Sometimes they even want to play.
Following these tips changed my running experience from zero to phenomenal. On my typical 5k I passed beautiful temples, fruit plantations, elephants, and of course—lots of dogs. More importantly, I left Thailand scathe free and so glad I never stopped running.