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What should you do if a dog attacks?

Avoiding dog bites starts with knowing what to do in advance. In the moment, everything is going to happen quickly. The dog is going to snarl, bark and charge. If you don’t already know how to react, it’s too late. You’re most likely going to do the wrong thing. You may not avoid the attack or you may even make it worse.

With that in mind, we would like to provide some basic advice that you can use if you’re in danger of being injured by someone’s dog. Thousands of people suffer from serious bites every year, but this can hopefully keep you from joining those statistics.

How to react — and how not to

First off, let’s touch on some of the things you shouldn’t do. Don’t run, which won’t help you escape — dogs are simply too fast — and can make things worse as the dog gets riled up. Don’t try to fight off the dog with your hands, as you can often suffer serious bites to the arms and hands. Always remember that what you want to do is deescalate the situation. To do it, you should:

  • Stay as calm as you can
  • Avoid loud noises and sudden movements
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Keep your hands close to your body
  • Turn slightly sideways
  • Keep the dog in your peripheral vision
  • Attempt to slowly back away without turning around

If you have something with you — a purse, a coat, a backpack, etc. — it is best to put it between you and the dog. Many dogs will just bite once, if they do at all, to get you to leave their space. By putting an item in front of you, you can often get the dog to bite that item while you back away. This helps the dog see that you’re not a threat.

If you suffer injuries

These tips are certainly helpful, but bite injuries can still happen. If you get injured, you may have a right to compensation for your medical bills and more.