Nothing can be more intimidating than walking around your neighborhood, knowing that stray or loose dogs are present. Dog attacks are a top deterrent for people looking to start a walking or running exercise program, especially in areas where neighbors are known to keep their dogs off-leash. The good news is that a person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be attacked by a trained dog, and dogs that are not trained to attack are typically easily intimidated.
Why do dogs attack?
Dogs may lash out at humans for a variety of reasons, but the number one cause is a nervous or fearful dog bordering on the “fight or flight” response. Other attacks often stem from a dog being territorial, or because of extreme dominance.
Preventing a Dog Attack
Preventing an attack is dependent on the type of dog that is approaching. However, in the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to ascertain which type of dog you are dealing with. Each of the tips below can be used in preventing an approaching dog from attacking.
A dog that is in “fight or flight” mode can easily be redirected by firmly standing your ground, asserting confidence, and yelling, “No!” or “Go home!” A dog that is approaching out of a display of dominance will also be redirected by this technique, as it is similar to a more dominant dog barking as a display of hierarchy.
Carry a Stick
A common dog deterrent is a large stick that can be wielded if approached by an unfamiliar animal. The stick can be used as a weapon or to keep the dog at arm’s length, but most commonly, simply swinging the stick or holding it overhead is enough impetus for a dog to turn and retreat.
Mace, or even a squirt bottle filled with bleach or ammonia, can also be used as dog repellent. Spraying the solution at the dog can break the dog’s focus and cause it to turn and run away. Aim for the dog’s eyes in order to disable the animal in case of true aggression.
Act like a Tree
If you find yourself unable to speak when an attacking dog comes near and you are not carrying a stick or spray bottle, stand as still as possible and “act like a tree.” Any sudden movements will cause a fearful or dominant dog to lash out. Instead, standing still will show both types of dogs that you are not a threat and/or you are submissive. The dog will likely sniff you and then move on.
Call Animal Control
The best way to prevent a dog attack is to call animal control and alert them of negligent owners or stray animals. While no one wants to get another dog owner into trouble, the fact remains that a loose dog not only poses a danger to itself, but to humans, children, and other dogs as well. Stray animals should always be picked up by animal control officers, especially as they carry the risk of contracting and passing on rabies.