While rare, vicious dog attacks happen. How can you prepare for one, or stop one if it’s happening to you? Learn exactly what to do.

Texas leads the nation in fatal dog attacks. While single dog bites happen commonly, full-out dog mauling doesn’t happen frequently.

So, what should you do if you do find yourself amid a dog attack?

Here’s how to handle that:

First, How Do You Know a Dog Will Attack?

You never truly know until they do. You know the obvious signs:

  • Growling
  • Lunging
  • Snarling
  • Backing up and baring teeth

But not all dogs do that before they attack. Some will freeze their entire body for a brief second.

It can be quite easy to miss the more subtle signs.

What Can You Do If a Dog Shows Aggressive Behavior?

You do have a chance to prevent an attack if you encounter an aggressive dog.

Here’s what to do and not do:

  • Don’t look a dog in the eye because that’s a challenge to them
  • Stay completely still and don’t talk to the dog at all because that makes you less interesting
  • Try to slowly move away and put a barrier between you and the dog
  • Ask someone nearby for help in a calm voice (don’t shout, which could startle the dog into action)
  • If you have fallen on the ground for some reason, curl into a ball and keep your hands around the back of your neck, and protect your throat
  • Don’t spray the dog with pepper spray, as that actually increases the chances of an attack

What If a Dog Actually Attacks and Bites You?

Even though it’s hard, try to stay as calm as possible. The more you can make the situation not a big deal, the more likely it is to end with less harm to your body.

Here’s specific tactics to use:

  • Try to cover the dog’s head with a jacket or shirt. Blocking the dog’s vision has a high chance of causing the dog to disengage.
  • You can also use that jacket or shirt, or even a stick to place between you and the dog. The goal is to redirect the dog’s biting onto that object.
  • Try not to scream because that only escalates the dog’s behavior.
  • If the dog begins to maul you, and none of the actions above are options, curl up into a ball and clasp your hands behind your neck to protect your neck and throat.
  • Resist the urge to hit or beat the dog with any nearby object. While this sounds like it would help, it only increases the dog’s adrenaline and desire to attack.
  • Try to stay calm because that makes you less interesting to the dog, which could lead to them disengaging.

As you can see, preventing a dog attack, and even making it through one, requires a cool head in an intense situation.

Hopefully you never find yourself alone and confronted by an aggressive dog.

But now you know exactly what to do if it ever happens.