You come across a strange dog with no owner in sight. How might you handle the situation so you don’t end up in the emergency room?
You have a better chance of making it through safely with a few preventative measures and cool, calm thinking.
It’s a terrifying moment.
You’re out on a daily run or walk, just minding your own business. Suddenly, you see a dog you know to be dangerous quietly staring at you with his ears perked up in the air.
He’s deciding whether to charge you, or to just let you pass by.
What do you do?
Avoidance Always Works Best
To the extent within your power, avoid being in a neighborhood if you know a dog routinely roams loose there.
If you know your neighbors have a fence that you believe a dog could jump over if motivated enough, simply go another route.
And make sure to report your concern to the local authorities. At the least, they can at talk to the owner, let them know they’re watching, and put a little pressure on the owner to take further measures to protect everyone’s safety.
When Avoidance Isn’t Possible
Mistakes happen. Dogs get out. Or owners act irresponsibly. Bad things happen.
When you see that dog looking at you, stop. Stand still. Slowly back away. Never step toward the dog. Don’t run. Don’t look the dog in the eyes, as they see that as a challenge. Don’t smile. Don’t scream or yell, as that only gets the dog more worked up. Keep your voice soft and soothing.
You want to remain as calm as possible and use calm body language to show that dog everything’s okay. There’s absolutely no need for aggression.
If the Dog Attacks You
You may be able to get away using the above strategy. And you may not.
If you can’t, and the dog attacks and bites you, don’t pull away. That only encourages the dog to hold onto you even more. Instead, try to put your coat, shirt, purse, jacket, bike, or backpack between you and the dog. This gives the dog something to latch onto instead of your body.
If you get knocked to the ground, curl into the fetal position, cover your head with your arms, and ball your fingers into a fist.
Two More Preventative Measures You Can Take
If you just like to keep yourself safe, because after all, you never know when a dog will attack you, you can carry treats with you. If you give those to a dog you feel could be a threat, they may decide those are of greater value than going after you.
Additionally, you could also carry pepper spray. Humane pepper sprays exist which do not cause long-term harm to the dog. But you can decide whether that’s important when serious injury is on the line.
Dog bites and attacks happen. Owners get negligent in caring for their dogs. But even when others make poor choices, you don’t have to become another dog bite statistic.
With these tips, you can make your way safely out of any situation. And whenever you encounter a loose dog, always make sure you call the police as soon as possible! If you do get bit contact a good dog bite attorney.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years (since 1983). Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.