Dogs provide companionship, can reduce stress and have the innate ability to sense storms and some diseases in people. If treated with respect and partnered with a companion who will train them and provide the dog guidance, they can offer friendship to people in all stages of life. If treated poorly and abused, the dog will aggressively act out when provoked and sometimes without provocation. Even the friendliest dogs can become defensive if they feel threatened or challenged.
Among other actions highlighted below, decrease your risk of falling victim to a dog attack by first providing them space, especially when they are eating or sleeping.
If the pet is not yours, do not blindly approach the dog. Instead, ask the owner if it is okay to approach and pet their dog. If the owner agrees, bend down on one knee and offer the palm of your at their eye level in a non-threatening manner.
Other actions to practice that will help stave off provocation are too:
- Avoid interaction with chained dogs: Some cities have laws against chaining or tethering an animal because the inability to escape may lead to hostile. If you see a chained pet, avoid them at all costs. If they look sick or abused, contact the authorities.
- Avoid staring competitions: Many dogs associate staring as a sign of alpha behavior. Dogs, even calm ones, often determine this action as a threat or a challenge. If the dog you are interacting with seems provoked, disengage, and avoid eye contact.
- Yawn: Like us, dogs associate yawning with a safe and non-threatening environment. If you are around a dog that seems threatened, turn away, avoid eye contact, and yawn to calm the dog’s stress.
- Stand still: Dogs who don’t know you are unfamiliar with your actions. Loud, high pitched or threatening noises, running or laughing could provoke a happy dog to want to play and accidentally bite out of excitement or an unfriendly dog to attack out of fear or defense. When an unfamiliar pet gets hyper around you (happy or provoked), act like a tree, and only make slow movements.
- Divert the dog’s attention: If the dog continues to act agitated, try to divert their attention. Options include tossing a tennis ball, toy or food item softly behind you, play a siren on your phone, or utilize a verbal command.
If a dog, friendly or otherwise, does cause you to lose your balance, and you fall to the ground, roll up into a ball, and try to avoid making noise or moving. Many animals, including dods, associate moving and sound with play or competition, which can lead to biting.
Dog attacks are not something to shove under the rug. If you were attacked and sustained a severe injury, a personal injury attorney will determine liability and seek due compensation.