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What To Do If A Dog Attacks You? Do's And Dont's

By
 Ashly 
on 
May 16, 2021

A dog attack can happen to anyone. Most can be avoided with the right knowledge and preparation. The first step to avoiding an attack is to be aware of your surroundings.

A dog that is chasing a cat or a squirrel, or that is startled by a loud noise or movement can easily mistake you for whatever it is that is scaring it.

By paying attention to your surroundings, you can avoid the danger zones where a dog is likely to run into you.

Do's and Don'ts: To Avoid Being Attacked By A Dog

Tips To Prevent Dog Bites:

  • Always assume the dog may view you as an intruder or threat.
  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • If the temptation is just too much for you to resist, approach an unfamiliar dog by letting it smell your semi-closed fist first. Never reach for the head, as this can be viewed as a threat.
  • Body language is everything when viewed from a dog's perspective. Never approach straight on or lock eyes with a dog you don't know.
  • Always ask the owner first if you can approach their dog.
  • Do not disturb a sleeping dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is eating food or chewing on anything.

Tips If Dog's is About to Attack You:

  • Never turn your back and run, as the dog's instinct will be to chase and catch you.
  • Remain motionless, arms down at your side. Stand like a tree.
  • Avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • As the dog loses interest, slowly back away.
  • If dog is attacking, try to put anything you can between you and the dog, such as a backpack or jacket.
  • If you fall to the ground, do not roll around and make noise as this will encourage "prey" instinct in the dog. YOU are the PREY!
  • Keep your hands and arms in front of your body to protect them.
  • Don’t put your hand near the fighting or attacking dogs’ mouths, or touch the dogs where they could easily turn around and bite you.
  • Do not grab collars.
  • If the dog bites you and isn’t letting go, move your arm or body part into the dog’s mouth, rather than trying to pull it out. This will prevent more damage to you through tearing.
  • Keep the dog from shaking its head or your body if they do not release.
  • Children should curl themselves into as tight a ball as possible and be as still as possible.
  • As hard as it is, teach children to not squeal or cry if at all possible - that only increases the excitement of the attacking dog.
  • If the very worst is happening, curl yourself over your child.
  • If the dog attacks your dog, do not put any part of your body between the two dogs.
  • Find objects to put in between the two dogs (chair, umbrella, garbage can lid, etc.).
  • Picking up your small dog is likely to cause the attacking dog to jump up on you, potentially causing you harm.
  • Not picking up your small dog is likely to increase the danger and harm to your dog. You’ll have to decide, given the situation, which is wiser in the moment.
  • If you do pick up your dog, don’t swing them back and forth facing the attacking dog. Try to place your dog between a barrier of some kind and yourself. Lean into a wall or even toss your dog into a fenced area if need be. Be aware that the attacking dog might be able to jump that fence.
  • Do not kick or punch the dog if at all possible (that might escalate in their arousal).
  • Once the attack is over, immediately get yourself, your dog or your child away. Don’t turn around, try to get further control of the situation, or try to find the owner. Just go.

What To Do If A Dangerous Canine Approaches You: What Causes Dogs To Attack

A 9-year-old girl died this week when three dogs attacked her in an alley behind her house. Police say the owner of the dogs was arrested.

It's a reminder that dog attacks do happen, and although rare, they can be fatal.

From 2005 to 2018, 471 Americans suffered death due to a dog bite injury, according to DogsBite.org, a national dog bite victims' group.

The group found that 66% of those fatalities were caused by pit bulls. But Marjie Alonso, a professional dog trainer and executive director of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABCT), says one breed isn’t more aggressive than another.

She says one study found that golden retrievers were responsible for more bites on children than any other breed.

“We could then easily say, ‘Well, golden retrievers are dangerous,’ and that’s not true,” she says.

So what causes dogs to become aggressive?

“What we can observe is that dogs that are highly aroused in terms of excitation, in terms of prey drive [or] in terms of protection will then kind of ramp up and the switch just flips and that's when dogs are really dangerous, especially in groups," Alonso says.

She says dogs tend to feed off each other's excitement. “I don't know if you ever been to a concert and you see large groups of people lose their minds — that happens with dogs too,” she says.

How To Identify If It Is A Classed Dog Attack

Aggression in animals is a natural instinct - however, there are ways to manage aggressive behaviour. If you are worried your dog is showing signs of aggressive behaviour, talk to your local vet about the steps you can take to prevent your dog from attacking other animals.

Councils around Australia have different local laws surrounding what is classed as a dangerous dog, however most councils agree that a dog who has:

  • seriously attacked another animal or a human
  • has acted in a way to cause fear in a human or animal

Will generally be classified as a dangerous dog. It is your responsibility as a dog owner to comply with the requirements imposed by your local council to contain and manage your pet at all times, but particularly when your dog is classified as a dangerous dog or if your dog is under investigation for classification.

There may also be differing registration fees imposed by your local council if your dog has been found to be a dangerous dog.

Be sure to check your local council website or contact your local council if you are planning on adopting a dog to check which breeds are prohibited from being owned, as in most cases these dogs will be seized by the council and euthanised according to that council's local law requirements.

Why Do Dogs Attack Other Dogs And Humans

Although there are a variety of reasons dogs may attack other dogs and humans, there are some animalistic instincts that may lead to aggressive behaviour in dogs:

  • Territorial behaviour towards objects, spaces, people, and/or food
  • Fear of other humans, objects, spaces, people
  • The presence of trauma leading to anxiety and fear in dogs
  • Noise and unusual human/animal activity within the household
  • An animal who is in pain from injury, illness, or disease

While it can be obvious that a dog may possess aggressive tendencies

Aggressive dog: Signs

Dogs give warning signs that they are uncomfortable in their behaviour and body language. 

Territorial behaviour is the marked change in a dog's behaviour, seen when another human or animal approaches an object, space, person, or food item belonging to the dog.

Dogs are naturally territorial animals and will defend and protect their property from other humans or animals. Territorial behaviour can include snarling, raised body hair, tense body, growling, barking, and mouthing/nipping.

Fear can lead a dog to exhibit unfavourable behaviour, but in reality this is the dog's instinctual way of defending itself from harm.

Fear can come from a place of previous trauma, or it can be an altogether new experience for the dog. Unusual objects, people, noises, and spaces can be overwhelming, especially if they are not part of that dog's common daily routine.

Signs that a dog may be fearful of objects, people, spaces, or noises include backing away, hiding, retreating, snarling, growling, whimpering, tense body language, raised hair, scratching, biting, and pouncing.

Previous trauma can take shape in many forms but can include such things as being the victim of a dog attack, violent or aggressive behaviour from another human or animal, being in a particularly noisy or stressful situation, or even witnessing a traumatic event take place in the household. 

The signs that a dog has experienced trauma in the past may be difficult to uncover at first, especially if the dog has been adopted from another family and their past has not been disclosed to you. 

Look for signs such as cowering and hiding as they may be warnings that the dog may be feeling uncomfortable.

It is important to note when observing a dog's body language that their behaviour is not necessarily a sign of impending aggression - that is to say, the dog may not attack at that moment in time.

It is a sign however that you should discuss the behaviour with your local vet; training may be necessary to correct the behaviour, or even making some changes to the dogs environment at home. 

Stopping Dog Bites

As a dog owner, you must take responsibility for training your dog and keeping them under control at all times.

You are responsible for your dog's behavior and are the first line of defense in preventing dog bites. It's important to do whatever you can to keep your dog from biting, and these tips can help: At the very least, put your dog through basic training. Continue a training program throughout your dog's life to reinforce the lessons you've taught them.

Socialize your dog from a young age as recommended by your veterinarian. Start this when they are a puppy and be consistent throughout their life! Socializing your dog includes allowing them to meet and interact with different types of people under calm and positive circumstances, including children, disabled persons, and elderly people. It also means, exposing your dog to various situations on a regular basis, such as other animals, loud noises, large machines, bicycles, and anything else that might cause fear. If your dog is not well socialized or displays any signs of fear or aggression, work with a professional trainer prior to attempting any of the above. The trainer can help lay out a plan to safely and slowly socialize your pet if possible.

Learn your dog's body language, as well as key signs that may lead to a bite. When you're around people, pay attention to your dog and know when aggression is building up. Stop it or remove your dog from the situation before it escalates. Do not discipline your dog with physical, violent, or aggressive punishments. Opt for positive reinforcement before resorting to the use of aversives. Remember to reward your dog for good behavior.

Always keep your dog on a short leash or in a fenced area. Know your dog well before letting it off-leash in permitted areas. Keep your dog in your sight at all times.

If you know your dog can be fearful or aggressive, do not put them in situations where they may become fearful and bite another person or pet. Instead, err on the side of caution and work with a professional trainer who can guide you.

If you suspect or know that your dog has fearful or aggressive tendencies, always warn others. Do not let your dog approach people and other animals unless the situation is highly controlled.

Be mindful of your dog's limitations and do not place them in situations that will stress them or put them or other people at risk. Work with a trainer if you know your dog has fearful or aggressive tendencies. They can discuss the appropriate use a basket muzzle if necessary.

Keep your dog's vaccinations current (especially rabies) and visit your vet routinely for wellness check-ups.

What To Do If A Dog Attacks You. Do's And Dont's

There are many reasons your dog could attack. The one that is most often cited is that the dog is protecting what he/she believes is his/her territory. But, there could be other reasons. Dogs, like people, are individuals. Just because a dog has never attacked before doesn't mean that he or she won't do so in the future. It's up to you to determine why the dog attacked and, if possible, take steps to prevent future attacks.

(Every Owner Should Know Their Responsibilities, Share Your Thoughts In The Comment Section)

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Ashly

Hey yaa! Im Ashly and I love pets. Growing up in a house with 2 dogs, a cat, a parrot and many furry rodents; it was natural for me to have a profound affection for them. I created GenerallyPets.com to create useful guides and articles on looking after your furry friends. The advice given on this site is our views and expertise, please consult a VET prior to testing anything. Hope my site helps you :)

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