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What to Do When Attacked by a Dog

While dog attacks are extremely rare, they can leave victims traumatized and, worse, unable to survive the injuries. Dog bite fatalities are more common among the very old and the very young. And you’d be surprised to know that there are cases where an owner is attacked by their own dogs.

While most dogs only become aggressive when they are afraid, in pain, or poorly trained or treated, certain dog breeds have a stronger tendency to bite or attack another dog or a human. Some dog breeds have a stronger prey drive, making them more likely to chase or lunge at humans or other animals when aroused.

While these dog breeds can be friendly and docile, something could easily trigger their excitement or aggression and result in injuries. This is why it’s important to train your dogs well and provide them with the recommended amount of exercise and stimulation. Even the most lovable dogs could bite when they’re bored.

But what if you’re walking down an alley, passing by your neighbor’s property, or running on a forest trail, and all of a sudden, an unleashed dog runs up to you, barking and preparing to pounce? What’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself, your pet, or your loved one and make sure you come out without serious injuries?

The answer would vary according to each specific scenario, but here are some strategies that could work.

When you’re walking with your dog 

Walking with a dog increases your chances of getting attacked by another dog. Poorly socialized dogs tend to be more aggressive towards fellow canines, so keep an eye out for dogs that bark incessantly with stiff postures. If you’re worried about your pet getting hurt, don’t be shy to walk away or tell the owner to handle their pet. But if the dog was able to escape and is running toward your pet, here’s what you should do:

  • Put a barrier between the two dogs (i.e.umbrella, shopping bag, walking stick, etc.)
  • Avoid carrying your dog as this will only increase the other dog’s excitement
  • Don’t scream or let out any high-pitched sound. Instead, call out common commands like “sit” or “stay” in a firm and assertive voice
  • If you have treats in your pocket, take a handful of them and toss them over the dog’s head. This is enough to distract the dog and give you a short window to walk away
  • Once you do, don’t ever look back or look for the owner. Instead, alert the local animal control service, tell them the location where the incident occurred, and describe the dog.
  • If there’s a fenced area nearby, throw your dog to the other side, but know that the attacking dog could jump up the fence too

When the dog is attacking your child 

  • Children, particularly toddlers, are more likely to get hurt during a dog attack. This is why it’s important to protect your child at all costs and keep the dog from reaching your kid’s neck or face.
  • Keep your child from screaming and jumping up and down, if you can, and tell them to curl up into a ball as tight as they can
  • If possible, don’t panic, take control of the situation, and look for means to escape
  • Feed something to the dog to distract them
  • If the dog doesn’t stop, curl yourself over your kid, but keep your hands away from the dog’s mouth.
  • If the very worst is happening, throw things at the dog to distract them so that you can get away

When a dog is attacking you

  • Avoid running, flailing your arms, and screaming
  • As much as possible, stay as calm, quiet, and steady as you can
  • Look down but break eye contact with the dog
  • If you see a leash trailing off, pick it up and tie it to a post or anything sturdy, but be careful not to put your face close to the dog’s mouth
  • If you see the owner nearby, call out to them in a firm and assertive voice
  • If you see a high surface that the dog may not be able to reach, climb up to it
  • Avoid hitting or hurting the dog as this will trigger more aggression
  • Try to call out familiar commands like “sit” or “stay” or throw away a piece of food, if you have any. Once you successfully distract them, walk away as calmly and slowly as possible, and look for the nearest indoor place to seek refuge in.

Dog bite aftermath: What to do next 

If you have successfully escaped a dog attack, it’s important to alert the authorities so that they can tell the owner to become more responsible. If you’ve been bitten, the dog owner is liable to pay for your medical bills, plus damages. If you’ve been traumatized and would like to seek therapy, the dog owner should also pay for that. Seek medical treatment right away and take pictures of your injuries for documentation.

And even if you weren’t injured, it’s still important to give the dog owner a warning so it won’t happen to anyone. If the dog owner is unapologetic and uncooperative, you should seek help from a personal injury lawyer to get the compensation you deserve. This is important because some dog owners would brush it off and pay you a small amount so that you won’t report them, only to realize that the expenses you incurred to treat your injuries are much more than what you received.

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