How To Avoid a Dog Attack

Don't Get Bit - Use These Tactics

Dog Snarling and Attacking
Jonathan Kirn/The Image Bank/Getty

One of the scariest encounters you can have on a walk is being charged by an aggressive dog. How can you avoid dog attack and keep from getting bitten or mauled by a dog while walking or jogging?

How to Avoid a Dog Attack

  1. Leashed dogs: Try to maintain a safe distance between the dog and you.
  2. If the dog is being walked on a very long leash, alert the owner to rein in the dog before you pass by.
  3. Ask the dog owner's permission before approaching a dog, whether the dog is on leash or in a yard.
  1. Look for a color-coded warning dog collar or leash, which is a growing trend that spells out if a dog should not be approached. It may say "No Dogs (when a dog is not good around other dogs)," "Caution", "Nervous," "Do Not Feed," "Blind," "Deaf," "Working," etc.
  2. Never approach a dog that is barking, growling, snarling, sleeping, eating, or nursing.
  3. Be aware of dogs a block or more ahead in your path. Be prepared to change your route or turn around to avoid unleashed dogs.
  4. Know the seven signs a dog may attack - a wagging tail doesn't always mean they are friendly, it could be a sign they are anxious and their next move may be an attack.
  5. Do not stare the dog in the eyes, that is a sign of aggression between dogs. Dogs will look away to show that they are backing down, so make looking away your move.
  6. Turn sideways so you are presenting less of a threat to a dog who is approaching aggressively.
  7. Don't run, the dog will chase and you can't outrun a dog, they can charge faster than an Olympic sprinter
  1. Put an object such as a tree, post, or bench between you and the dog.
  2. Stand still, slowly withdraw or maintain a constant slow pace out of the dog's territory.
  3. Speak softly and gently to calm the dog, "Good dog, it's OK, go home."
  4. If local law allows, use pepper spray when charged by the dog. Pedestrian issues reporter John Z. Wetmore suggests not just spritzing them, but giving them a full dousing to stop the charge. Know the weapons laws in the community you are walking in and obey them, otherwise it may be you who is going to jail.
  1. If charged, get something between you and the dog's mouth - umbrella, pack, jacket, stick
  2. If attacked, curl up in a ball and protect your face, neck, and head.

Reader Suggestions for Preventing a Dog Attack

  • Rocks in a Can: Terri carries small rocks in a can with a lid. When approached by a dog, she shakes it hard and the rattling noise scares off the dog.
  • Ammonia Squirt Gun: Joe fills an inexpensive squirt gun with ammonia, which he says works as well as pepper spray.
  • Sharp Whistle: A safety whistle is recommended by bikers as being effective in stopping a chasing dog. Buy a hiking whistle/rape whistle can be worn on a cord around your neck and is handy for sounding an alarm for any threat or medical emergency.
  • Milkbone Decoys: Darwin began carrying Milkbone dog treats to toss to a dog who always chased his bike. The dog would stop and check out the treat and the dog stopped chasing him after several repeats of this scenario.
  • Small Pebbles: A kennel owner, B. Ed Harris, tosses small pebbles at dogs who follow her, while yelling at them.

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