How to Stay Safe Around Aggressive Dogs

How to Stay Safe

In Colorado, hundreds of thousands of people own dogs. Most dog owners are responsible people, aware that they need to keep their dogs leashed and in control at all times. Other dog owners aren’t as vigilant about dog safety meaning an encounter with an un-leashed dog can happen anywhere at any time.  If that encounter is with an aggressive dog, it is frightening and at its worst, can turn into a very dangerous situation.

Common Signs of Aggressive Dogs

  • Excessive barking
  • Growling
  • Displaying its teeth
  • Air-snapping
  • Fur standing on end
  • Tense body language
  • Ears laid back
  • Tail slung low

Don’t assume a dog with which you are familiar will not become aggressive. 60% of all dog bites are in situations where the dog and victim are familiar with each other. Any dog has the capacity to turn aggressive in the wrong circumstances.

What To Do If Confronted By An Aggressive Dog

If a dog is aggressive and the owner is nearby, get the owner to restrain their dog. Refrain from any sudden movements and in a calm, steady voice alert the owner to control their dog. If you encounter an aggressive dog and the owner isn’t nearby, the following tips can help you remain safe.

  • Remain calm and steady in all movements, dogs sense panic
  • Stand still like a tree, keep your arms at your side
  • Look away from the dog without losing sight of the dog
  • Speak only in your normal voice with measured tones
  • Use the dog’s name if you know it and tell them they’re a “good dog” to relax the animal
  • If you don’t know the dog, try commanding the dog with “sit”, “down” or “stay”
  • Distract the dog by tossing a daypack, water bottle, wrist watch etc. away from you and the dog
  • Back away from the dog slowly remembering not to make direct eye contact or sudden motions

Never do any of the following when near an aggressive dog:

  • Try and pet it or calm it down. No matter how “good you are with dogs” reaching toward a dog is an aggressive motion to the dog.
  • Make direct eye contact with the animal since dogs perceive this as a threat.
  • Smile at the animal; bared teeth are threatening to dogs.
  • Make any sudden movements including waving for help.
  • Turn your back on the animal which can be perceived as an opening to attack.
  • Raise your voice or scream for help.
  • Try and run to safety; the dog can easily outrun you.

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