Approached by aggressive dog? Remember these 5 tips

Every day in the US, about 1,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for dog bites. And roughly half of us will suffer from a dog bite sometime in our lifetime. Given these odds, it’s a good idea to take time out to learn what to do if you’re approached by an aggressive dog.

Here are 5 tips to remember.

TIP #1: Show the Dog You are Calm.

While you might be feeling anxious about a dog charging towards you, try to remain calm. Think of these body postures:

  • Stop moving. The last thing you want to do is run away. This will only trigger the dog’s instinct to chase you.
  • Keep arms loose at sides. Don’t flail your arms about.
  • Speak in calm tones. You could try speaking calmly, yet firmly to the dog. Telling it “go home,” or “nice dog,” may help. Use the dog’s name, if you know it.

Above all, avoid sudden movement. Think of slowing down and communicating through your body that you aren’t a threat.

TIP #2: Avoid Behavior the Dog Could See as a Challenge.

Your goal here is simple: make yourself as boring as possible so the dog loses interest.

Don’t touch or pet the dog in an attempt to befriend it. And whatever you do, don’t look it in the eye as the dog may interpret that as a challenge. Keep your body’s side positioned towards the dog versus facing it front on or standing behind it.

TIP #3: Try a Distraction.

If you are lucky enough to have some dog treats with you, throw them at the dog to distract him.

Of course, most of us don’t carry dog treats. You might try picking up a stick or other nearby object and throw it far away. In some cases, the dog may go after the object and leave you alone.

Don’t see a stick near you to throw? Even the act of pretending to pick something up and throw it may send the dog chasing. This may buy you enough time to create space between you and the dog.

TIP #4: Back Away Slowly from the Dog.

Once you’ve averted the situation, back away slowly from the dog. But, do not turn your back! It’s important that you remain aware where the dog is at all times, as they can approach very fast.

Only turn your back and walk away when you are at a safe distance from the dog.

TIP #5: Protect Yourself from an Attack.

If a bite or attack is unavoidable, there are a few body postures that could save your life:

  • Make fists. Keeping your hands in fists will protect fingers from being bitten off. It’s also much easier to remove a fist from a dog’s mouth than fingers.
  • Get vertical. Look for any object or structure nearby that’s chest-high to put distance between you and the dog. For instance, the roof of a car or truck.
  • Cover your head and neck. If you’re unable to get off the ground, curl in a ball and protect your head and neck with your arms.

As difficult as it may be in the moment, do all you can to remain calm and still. Pulling away or fighting back may escalate the dog’s aggression.

What to do If You Are Bitten or Attacked

In the unfortunate event you are bitten by an aggressive dog, seek medical attention right away. Make sure to phone the police or animal control so the dangerous dog can be identified.

Sometimes, the dog bite or attack is the result of a negligent owner. If this is the case, you might be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. If you live in Washington State, call Ladenburg Law Injury Attorneys at 253.272.5226 to discuss your legal options.

We have helped many clients file personal injury lawsuits for their dog bites. We also wrote a post about understanding Washington’s dog bite laws you might wish to read.

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