Most dogs are friendly. So, when we encounter a dog who is mean or aggressive, it can really catch us off guard! In order to stay safe, especially when you’re out for a walk, it’s important to know how to deal with aggressive dogs and what to do if you’re approached by an aggressive dog.
What to Do if You’re Approached by an Aggressive Dog
Stay calm. Realize that you cannot outrun a dog. Stay calm and slowly back away from the dog (keeping an eye on them – don’t turn your back to the dog).
Avoid confrontation. Never hold eye contact with dogs, especially an aggressive dog. Prolonged eye contact is seen by dogs as a challenge.
Speak to the dog in a soothing voice. It can be difficult to stay confident when you’re face-to-face with an aggressive dog. But speaking softly to them may make them realize you don’t pose a threat, thereby eliminating the aggression.
If you can’t get away. If an aggressive dog comes toward you, or even lunges at you in a threatening way, try using any items you may be carrying (like an umbrella or backpack) to put between you and the dog. You also might try yelling, clapping, or putting your arms above your head in order to appear larger. This may frighten or intimidate the dog, so they’ll run away or at least back off.
If the dog attacks you. Lie down on the ground and protect your head with your arms and hands. Shout loudly for help by screaming, “Dog attack!” or “Help!”
Understanding why the dog is being aggressive may be the best way to know how to respond.
The dog may be afraid. Backing away slowly while speaking softly will demonstrate that you’re not a threat.
The dog may be guarding or protecting something. This may happen if you step into their yard or if you’ve approached something important to them such as their owner, a child, or even a toy or bone. Get out of their “territory” by backing away slowly.
The dog might be hungry. If a dog has been lost or has been a stray for some time, they may actually be hungry. If you’re carrying any food, throw it far away from you. If they’re hungry, they’ll run after the food, and you can get away.
For more information about why dogs are aggressive, read my article, How to Stop a Dog from Being Aggressive. In this article, I discuss common misconceptions about dog aggression, what actually causes a dog to become aggressive, how to solve dog aggression towards other dogs, and how to stop a dog from being aggressive toward people.
All dogs are capable of being aggressive, and of biting or attacking. A study by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC, and the Humane Society of the United States found that the statistics don’t show that any breeds are inherently more dangerous than others. Pit Bulls are often thought of as aggressive dogs. For more information about this, read my article, How to Help Pit Bulls.
Professional Dog Trainer and Behavioral Specialist, Doggy Dan, has a nice tutorial about the common misconceptions about dog aggression and the real reasons why dogs are aggressive.
Sometimes dogs are aggressive because their owners simply don’t know how to properly train the dog. If your dog is aggressive, or if you know someone who has an aggressive dog, I recommend an effective dog training program that focuses on dog aggression called, The Dog Calming Code.
Developed by Professional Dog Trainer and Behavioral Specialist, Doggy Dan, this program teaches you how to communicate with your dog to help them achieve and maintain a calm state. They’ll be more able to listen to and obey your commands no matter what is going on around them. This is the best way to help an aggressive dog to behave appropriately.
For More Information
For a more in-depth discussion about dog aggression, read Doggy Dan’s article called, What to Do if You’re Approached by an Aggressive Dog. Doggy Dan is the owner of the dog training website, The Online Dog Trainer. His website contains more than 300 videos where you get to watch Doggy Dan training dogs and working with dog owners on every dog behavior issue you can think of. You can visit the site at TheOnlineDogTrainer.com.
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