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How to protect yourself when a dog attacks

Dogs are most often docile and submissive. While all breeds have different personalities, if treated well, they love to play, cuddle and just enjoy life – with their owners. Unless the animal knows you, be cautious, but not frightened or aggressive toward it. Animals won’t often attack humans unless provoked. If they feel threatened or their territory is crossed, they can become aggressive and sometimes violent.

But what if a dog does attack you?

How should you protect yourself?

Follow these tips to lessen the damage of a dog attack.

  1. The three areas to protect first if attacked are your face, chest and throat.
  2. To protect your fingers, keep your hands in a fist whenever possible.
  3. If the dog seems aggressive and an attack is likely, try to bait the dog with any object you have on your person (a jacket, cap or stick.) If the dog latches onto the object, it will think it has a hold of you which will allow you some time to cautiously retreat.
  4. Sometimes, a dog bite is unavoidable. If so, sacrifice your shin or forearm to avoid a potentially catastrophic injury or artery puncture.
  5. If the dog does latch on, don’t pull away. Doing so will cause further damage. Once the dog has a hold, try to lift the dog off the ground by its hind legs. This technique often induces submissive behavior, causing the dog to release its grip as their posterior is a vulnerable area.
  6. Apply your own first aid and receive medical treatment to the wounded area as soon as possible. This may include receiving a rabies shot. You may also be able to file a personal injury claim if the attacking dog had an owner.

It’s important to understand the signs. Signs of aggression can include growling, snapping of teeth, raised fur and a rigid body. A scared or anxious dog could attack as well if you invade its safe space. Dogs can show anxiety and fear by continuously licking their lips, repeated yawning, turning their head to avoid direct eye contact and confrontation, cowering or tucking their tail between their legs. A wagging tail often means a friendly dog unless it seems more rigid which can also signal anxiety.