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What to Do if You’re Approached by an Unattended Dog

Published on May 15th, 2012

Many dog owners are responsible and do their best to keep their dogs in a yard or on leashes. However, some dogs are left unattended or allowed to run loose. Here are a few tips for safely handling unknown dogs that approach you so that you can avoid dog bites.

Try to determine the dog’s state of mind. Though you should be wary of any unattended dog, some merit more care than others. Canine body language can tell a lot about a dog’s state of mind. A dog whose tail is down, ears are back, and teeth are bared is probably more dangerous than a dog that is wagging its tail with a relaxed appearance.

Stay calm. No matter how scared you feel, try to act calm and collected. Do not make any swift movements. Dogs can sense agitation, and your nervousness may actually make them more nervous and aggressive. Stand as still as possible with your hands at your side.

Do not run. It may seem to make sense to run away from a dangerous animal, but this can trigger a dog’s prey drive and cause it to chase you, escalating the situation. If you need to get away from the dog, walk backwards slowly. Do not walk towards the animal, as it may interpret this as aggression.

Do not make eye contact. Eye contact is a sign of aggression and dominance among canines, and a dog may react by attacking you. Try to stay aware of the dog’s movements without looking into its eyes.

If the dog is aggressive, firmly say, “No!” Generally, you shouldn’t try to talk to the dog or pet it. However, if it makes a move towards you and you feel threatened, say “No!” very loudly and authoritatively.

The dog bite attorneys at Shea Law Group can help you evaluate your legal options if you have been bitten by a dog. We can help you obtain medical and compensatory damages during this difficult time. To schedule a consultation, call our Chicago office at (773) 365-0040.


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