Dogs may be human’s best friend, but not all canines make great buddies. Animal aggression can happen for numerous reasons, from the dog being startled or suffering from a condition that makes him or her more likely to perceive you as a threat. We discuss some of the most common causes of animal aggression in our blog, “Why Pets Can Attack.”
To protect yourself or your family members, it helps to know why these incidents occur. However, you must also know what to do if you should face an aggressive animal.
In this blog, we give you the information you need to respond to a threatening animal to reduce the risk of attack, minimize injury during an attack, and deal with any resulting injuries should you be attacked.
How to Respond to an Aggressive Dog
You may encounter a dog that makes you uncomfortable in any outdoor space, especially when you’re walking or jogging. While many of these animals are harmless and friendly, you may not be able to judge a dog’s temperament just from its breed or appearance.
If you see a strange dog or a dog that’s behaving aggressively, minimize the risk of an attack through the following steps:
- Act calmly and avoid sudden movements. You may want to cross the street to avoid crossing the dog’s path, but do not turn and run since this sudden action may encourage the animal to chase you.
- Employ a deterrent. Most dogs respond to certain stimuli by retreating. If you often travel through areas with several loose dogs or dogs that frighten you, carry a spray bottle of water or a whistle. Some people also have luck throwing treats to distract the dog.
- Use clear, common commands. If the dog begins to approach you, tell it to stop or back off. Some dogs even respond to commands as simple as “no” or “off.” While you want to appear authoritative, do not hold eye contact or smile showing your teeth, as these behaviors may be seen as a threat.
You can also decrease the risk of a dog attack by avoiding areas that a dog may perceive as his or her territory. For example, if you know of a threatening dog in your neighborhood, use the other side of the street when walking past that area whenever possible.
How to Defend Yourself From an Attack
Some dog attacks occur due to circumstances you cannot control, such as an instinct to protect a puppy or an illness that makes the animal feel vulnerable. If a dog attacks you, your primary objective is to minimize potential injuries. Tactics for protecting yourself generally depend on the size of the animal.
When larger dogs attack, they generally go for the face and neck area. If you have a cane or walking stick, hold the stick across your body. If you do not have an object to block the attack with, raise your knee to create distance between the dog and your body.
Use your arms to shield your face and neck. If possible, cross your arms to make it harder for the animal to pull one arm away.
Smaller dogs tend to go for the back of the legs and the ankles. While these attacks generally are not fatal, they can cause serious injury. Use your weight to your advantage by pushing your arm or shin down on the dog’s shoulders or back.
If a dog bites you, fight the instinct to pull away. Yanking away from a dog will not usually break the bite, but it may make your wounds worse. If a dog continues to attack, curl yourself into a ball and lie as still as possible. Dog attacks can be driven by the idea of the victim as prey. Unresponsive victims look like dead prey, making them less interesting to the animal.
Regardless of the type of dog you encounter, yell to get attention and help during the attack. Once the attack is over, however, if the dog is still unrestrained, leave the area slowly and quietly.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
If you sustain a dog bite, seek medical and law enforcement help as soon as possible. You can wash your injuries and apply gentle pressure to stop minor bleeding. However, because dog bites can transmit disease, you should see a doctor. You may need rabies or tetanus shots.
Report the incident to local law enforcement. Provide as much information as you know about the dog’s owner or the area the dog stays in. If the dog is a stray, you may also need to call animal control.
If the attack resulted from a lack of proper training or occurred when the animal should have been on a leash, you may have a dog bite personal injury claim.
At the Law Offices of Gregg Durlofsky, we can evaluate the circumstances around your injuries, including any previous history of aggression from the animal, and advise you on your next best step.