Most dogs are safe and friendly, but it's a serious risk to assume that's the case when the reality could be exactly the opposite. Remember, people get injured in dog attacks every year. Sometimes, the injuries are so severe that they pass away.
This isn't to make you feel afraid of every dog that you don't know, but you must be aware of this risk, especially if you have children or if you're a frequent jogger. Dogs often chase runners out of instinct, and kids are at greater risk than adults because more vital areas -- the face and neck -- are closer to the dog's level.
So, if a dog does seem like it's going to attack, what should you do? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Do not panic. Try to stay as calm and collected as you can. You want to give the dog the sense that you are in control of the situation, no matter how you feel.
- Do not run. Instinctively, you will want to run away, but it often just makes things worse. You are not faster than the dog and you will not outrun it. You will just show the dog that you are scared and make it think you are prey.
- Keep your hands down, facing the dog, and stand still. You can talk in a calming voice to the dog. Often, this is enough to make it stop the charge, even if it stays near you and keeps barking. Just stay still and keep this up for as long as you can.
- Begin to back away. Do it slowly, walking backward so that you don't have to turn away from the dog. Putting some space between the two of you is wise, especially if the dog feels like it has to protect its territory. When you back off, it may lose interest.
- While keeping an eye on the dog, try not to make eye contact. Some dogs take this as a challenge or a sign of aggression.
- When dogs do move to snap or bite, attempt to put something in the way that may take the dog's attention. For instance, if you're holding your jacket, push it forward so that the dog bites it. It may then rip the jacket out of your hand and back off. You can make the dog feel like he or she has "won" the encounter without actually getting hurt.
These tips certainly help, but nothing guarantees you will not suffer serious injuries. If you do, make sure you know how to seek out financial compensation for your costs.