What Should You Do If You Are Attacked By a Dog?


Safety Tips to Avoid Attacks, and Minimize Injury

Dog attacks can be a terrifying experience, however it is important to maintain your composure if you are threatened by a dog. Your posture and behavior can have a substantial impact on the likelihood that you will suffer an attack.  If you are confronted with an angry or threatening dog, experts recommend the following:

  1. Remain Calm. Do not scream or raise your voice. There is truth in the old saying that “dogs can sense fear.” If you start running or crying out you may provoke the dog into an attack. If you remain calm, and in control, the dog will be confused.
  2. Avoid direct eye contact with an angry or attacking dog.
  3. Stand still until the threatening dog leaves. Be boring, like a tree. The dog will likely lose interest in you.
  4. Stand sideways in orientation to the dog, so that you can monitor the animal from your peripheral vision. Do not open your palms or arms. Act disinterested.
  5. If you are carrying anything, such as a bag or even a cane or walker place it out in front of you. This is simply establishing your “space.” The message to the dog is – you have your space, this is mine.
  6. Your calm assertive demeanor while avoiding eye contact communicates strength to the dog, increasing the odds that it will respect your space and move on.
  7. Keep your fingers curled into a ball. The dog may come close to you, even sniff you, but that does not signal an imminent attack.
  8. If the dog continues to appear threatening, offer it something else to chew on such as a water bottle or a back pack. Anything is better than your arms or legs.
  9. If you must leave, back away at a 45 degree angle, very slowly and calmly. Never turn your back on the dog, and never turn directly toward it.

If the Dog Continues to Act in a Menacing Manner, You may be Forced to Confront the Situation

  1. Face the dog, while continuing to avoid eye contact. Sternly and with a deep voice command the animal to “back up”
  2. If you are attacked you must fight back. Running away is never an option – the animal can outrun you.
  3. Remove your arm from the sleeve of a jacket or sweater or remove a shoe and offer that to the dog – anything that isn’t your body. Allow it to rip the garment or bag off of you and then slowly back away as it continues to tear at it’s “prize.”
  4. If the dog starts to bite, raise your voice and call for help. Avoid screaming as this may incentivize the dog to increase the veracity of its attack.
  5. Target the throat, nose and back of the head. A well placed kick or elbow can disorient a dog long enough for you to escape.
  6. If you have access to a stick or another weapon use it to strike the dog but not over the head. A dog’s skull is very thick.
  7. Defend yourself as if your life depends upon it. 45 Americans were killed by vicious dogs last year.
  8. Use your own body weight to subdue the dog. Dogs bite viciously but they are not “designed” to wrestle. If you can pin the dog down using your elbows or knees across the back you can subdue the animal until help arrives.
  9. If you are brought to the ground curl up on your stomach, raising your knees to your chest. Cover your ears with closed fists and use your arms to protect your face and neck. These are the areas of greatest vulnerability. Remain as motionless as possible and try not to scream.
  10. The safest place to be bitten is your forearm or shin. There are arteries in your thigh, and a bite to the groin or upper leg can cause a fatal blood loss.
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