Encountering an aggressive dog while you’re out for a walk or a run can be a harrowing experience. It often happens very quickly, and you’re never expecting it. It’s not the type of surprise anyone wants, but the thousands of dog bite injuries every year show that it’s one people will get.

How you react when you see an aggressive dog can make a big difference. Here is what you should do:

  • Keep calm. You want the dog to calm down, and you need to exude that calmness yourself.
  • Don’t run. This is one of the most common mistakes that people make. Running away just makes the dog more aggressive, and you’ll never outrun it.
  • Don’t smile. When dogs see teeth, they can take it as a challenge. It is an animal. It does not know you’re being friendly.
  • Don’t look at its eyes. Dogs also take eye-contact as a challenge.
  • Don’t pull away from a bite. This is very hard to remember in the moment, but it may just make the dog more aggressive. Even when it hurts, stay calm.

As you can see, the key is trying to control the situation as much as possible by taking the energy and emotion out of it. This can sometimes help you avoid a bite or lessen the impact.

Unfortunately, even these tips will not always work. You could get bitten and seriously injured. If you do, you must understand your legal options. Remember that owners are responsible for their animals, especially when they know they are aggressive.