How to Avoid a Dog Attack While Running

dog barking
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Most runners have at least one story about a scary or overly-friendly dog they met on a run. Dogs can be very territorial and their prey instinct is triggered by fast movement, so runners can catch their attention. Even when a dog seems friendly, if the owner isn't around, it's best not to approach it.

How to Protect Yourself From Dogs

Follow these tips for how to handle dogs and avoid problems with them while you're running:

  • Don't make eye contact with the dog. If it sees you staring at it, it might see that as a threat.
  • Stop running, turn and walk in the opposite direction or across the street. This should help diffuse the situation, as you won’t seem as interesting to the dog if you're walking. Also, the dog won't think you're trying to invade his territory if you're heading in the opposite direction. Don't turn around and look back.
  • Try to put an object such as a parked car, tree, or bench between you and the dog.
  • If the dog approaches you, stop and stand very still. Don't yell or make any sudden movements. In a firm, but calm voice, say, "Go home," "Sit," or "No."
  • If the dog tries to jump on you, turn to the side and push it off with your forearm. Try not to panic, and do your best to not exaggerate your physical movement.
  • If you are attacked, curl up in a ball and do your best to protect your face, neck, and head.
  • If you keep encountering the same aggressive dog, find a new running route. You can also file a report with your local animal control.

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