As a general rule, dogs are extremely friendly and affectionate, and love to meet new people. However, there is that rare occasion when a dog may become aggressive and attack a random stranger passing by, or even someone he knows, without any kind of provocation. If you ever find yourself in this type of situation, would you know what to do? The following is a list of suggestions on how to defend yourself and hopefully stay safe should you ever encounter a dog attack.
1. Keep Calm
First and foremost, do your best to remain calm. Fighting your natural instinct to immediately panic can be difficult, but it could literally be a matter of life or death. This can also help you to determine if the dog charging at you is actually trying to harm you. More often than not, a dog running toward you and barking doesn’t plan to hurt you, and is likely only playing, trying to chase you off of his turf.
2. Don’t Try to Run Away
Something you definitely don’t want to do is attempt to run away. Dogs are natural predators, and predators instinctively chase after their fleeing prey. Instead, stand perfectly still and avoid giving eye contact. Hopefully at this point he will lose interest in trying to turn you into mulch, and will move on to something more interesting.
3. Throwing a Toy or Treats Away from You
Any time you know you’ll be walking or jogging through an area where it’s not unusual to see stray dogs running around, you might want to bring along a dog toy or some treats with you. This way if a savage dog does charge at you, throwing the toy or treats away from you may cause enough of a distraction for you to slip away to safety.
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4. Use Something as a Shield
After trying all these steps, if the dog does still charge at you, try to put something in between you to use as a shield. A garbage can lid is certainly the most ideal, but unfortunately, they aren’t always laying on the ground at your feet when you need them. Anything you can quickly grab that can help keep his jaws from coming in contact with you is helpful. If you carry pepper spray or mace with you, that can also work as a deterrent.
5. Find Out a Fire Extinguisher if Possible
Try to locate a fire extinguisher. By spraying it at the dog, you can more easily avoid real close contact and you don’t need to aim it right at the dogs face for it to be effective. Once the canister is empty, you can still use it as a weapon or a shield.
6. Look for a Heavy Tree Branches
If none of those options are possible, then it is not only okay but downright necessary to defend yourself however possible. A dog attack could easily kill you. If there are any large, heavy tree branches or limbs within reach, it can serve as a good weapon. Otherwise use your feet, kicking it in the face or throat, if possible.
If striking the dog doesn’t seem to phase him, the next thing to try is using the weapon as a bite stick. You can use it to keep the dog from reaching you while yelling for help as loud as you can. Hopefully, someone will hear you and come to your aid.
Striking or kicking the dog probably won’t cause any injuries, but it might manage to stun him enough to make your escape. You still don’t want to run at this point. Back away as steadily and slowly as you can, and try not to make any sudden moves.
7. When There is no Way to Avoid Getting Bitten
When there is no way to avoid getting bitten, do whatever you can to protect your face, throat, and chest, or any other areas with major arteries. Your forearm is the least dangerous place for a puncture. Try getting the dog to grab a hold of your jacket or sweater sleeve, then quickly slip out of it. Sometimes that’s good enough for the attacking animal, and he’ll leave you alone.
While the biting going on, try pushing against the dog’s jaw instead of pulling away. It may force him to open his mouth, so you can slip away without huge chunks of skin being torn off. This technique likely won’t work on a pit bull or similar breeds, due to their different biting behaviors. The chances are pretty good with non “bully” dogs, though.
8. Use Your Common Sense
No matter what types of weapons you are or are not able to access, your greatest and most reliable tools are always your common sense and instinct. Don’t ever dismiss them as powerful weapons.
9. Call Either The Police or Animal Control
Once you know you’re safely away, call either the police or animal control. Even if the dog is a stray and there can’t be any criminal charges filed, it’s still vital that the dog is taken off the streets as soon as possible. He will also need to be tested for rabies, or any other diseases that could get transferred to you.
What to Do if You’re Bitten by a Dog
- Make sure you treat your wounds immediately If the bites punctured your skin. Animal bites can easily become infected, so you want to get them cleaned up in order to prevent that from happening. If any wounds are too deep for a band-aid to take care of it, a trip to the emergency room is a good idea.
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