"Beware of Dog" sign

20 Tips & General Advice to Avoid a Dog Attack

Dog bites are not only painful, but can be deadly for humans, can cause rifts in relationships, and may result in the death of a dog. They are the nightmare scenario of all dog owners and may be avoided by using these general tips and sensible precautions.

  • Do not venture onto private property unless specifically invited.
  • Do not run when confronted with a threatening dog. Running stimulates the dog’s aggression.
  • Hold your ground and demonstrate moderate dominance by firmly telling the dog to go home. Using a calm, authoritative voice, say “no” or “sit” and many dogs will comply. It may be effective to croon “nice doggie” to an overwhelmed dog.
  • Avoid direct eye contact, which dogs interpret as a challenge. Appear nonchalant, but glance at the dog so you can see where it is.
  • When the dog begins to back away, slowly retreat also, keeping the dog in view. If the dog circles back, stop and wait until it moves away again.
  • Do not try to outdistance a dog if you are on a bicycle. Stop, dismount, and stand with the bicycle between you and the dog. Without something to chase the dog may lose interest.
  • Never try to pet a strange, free-roaming dog.
  • Never attempt to touch or pet a dog that is eating or sleeping.
  • Do not be embarrassed to jump on a car, climb a tree or call for help if you are threatened.
  • Do not hesitate to ask a dog owner to restrain their dog until it clearly recognizes you as a friend.
  • Avoid any encounters with trained guard dogs as they may be patrolling.
  • Keep still and try to remain calm. Vets advise you to “be a tree” with feet together, elbows against your chest, and hands under your neck.
  • No screaming as this excites a dog.
  • Don’t turn your back on a barking dog.
  • Let the dog sniff you; in many cases, it will leave as soon as it realizes you are not a threat.
  • As a last resort, throw or pretend to throw an object at an aggressive dog.
    If attacked, “feed” the dog something else, your jacket, bike, purse, etc., to distract it.
  • Mother dogs are very protective of their puppies. Always ask before you engage with a litter and move quietly and carefully around them.
  • If knocked down, curl into a ball and use your hands to protect your head and neck.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for dog bites. All bites should also be reported to the police or animal control department.
  • If you hit or kick a dog it may retaliate by biting. Also taking food or a toy away from a dog may have the same result.

While dogs are considered our Best Friends, we must treat them with respect. They are not humans, and their reactions are not always predictable. Avoiding the situations listed above will go a long way to keeping you safe from potentially dangerous dog encounters.

By Carol Kendig

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