Being attacked by a dog can be very frightening. In the moment, it can be easy to panic and act out in fear by running or yelling. However, these actions can escalate the problem. Sometimes dog attacks are unavoidable, but there are steps you can take to prevent serious injury and minimize the damage when faced with an aggressive dog.

Warding Off An Attack

Stay Calm

It is not normal for dogs to attack humans. In most cases, dogs act out in aggression only if they feel threatened. When a dog is already agitated, making loud noises or movements will encourage the dog to lash out. It is vital to stay calm, stand still, and avoid eye contact with the dog. Animals can sense fear and it is better to “play dead” in the hopes that they will lose interest and move on.

Distract The Dog

If the dog does not lose interest, try offering them something else to focus on. Take off a shoe or give them your water bottle to chew on. Do anything to deflect its attention away from you.

Defending Yourself If The Dog Attacks

If the above steps have not worked, it is time for you to use self-defense. Dog attacks can be fatal, and at this point you should do everything in your power to fight back.

  • Try using your body weight to pin down the dog
  • Use physical force as necessary. *You should only hurt a dog if you are being seriously attacked and feel you are in a life or death situation*
  • Yell for help. At this point, it is okay to raise your voice. Hopefully your calls will be heard and others can come to your rescue
  • Focus on keeping your face, chest, and throat safe. The safest areas to be bitten are the shin and forearm.

When Bitten

If Minor:

  • Apply pressure to stop the bleeding
  • Wash and dress the wound
  • Check for signs of infection (redness, tenderness, or pus)

If Major:

  • Scream for help
  • Seek medical treatment immediately

Legal Steps If Seriously Injured

  • Call the authorities right away to prevent the animal from endangering others and file an incident report
  • If you are able, take photos of your injuries before being treated
  • If the dog was not stray and was with an owner, record name(s) and contact information
  • If there were any witnesses, gather their information
  • Get in touch with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney

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