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How To Avoid a Dog Attack While Walking

How To Avoid a Dog Attack While Walking

Walking outside is a great way to exercise and explore the outdoors. However, encountering a dog during your walks can sometimes be unpredictable. And you want to take steps to ensure your safety.

Whether the dog is friendly or not, you always want to approach any animal cautiously. If the dog attacks, it can leave you with serious injuries.  At GDH Law, we often help those who’ve suffered injuries after serious attacks by dogs in Lanham. For that reason, we have created this guide to share how to avoid a dog attack while walking.

Keeping Yourself Safe

Unfortunately, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year in the U.S. If an aggressive or dangerous dog has attacked you, you may be able to file a personal injury claim in Maryland.

Data compiled by the Animal Legal & Historical Center at Michigan State University highlights MD Code, Criminal Law, § 10-619. That state law spells out how dog owners are held to the strict liability principles for bites and must take certain steps to prevent any incidents involving their canines.

While the owners can be held accountable for your injuries, you will want to prevent getting attacked in the first place.

Know the Signs of Canine Aggression

When you are out on a walk, you will want to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of dog aggression. That way, you can spot the difference between a friendly pup and an attacking canine. Signs of aggression include:

  • Growling
  • Raised fur
  • Rigid body posture
  • Snapping teeth

If a dog is showing these signs, give it plenty of space and avoid any sudden movements or loud noises. However, not all dogs display these signs of aggression. Some may appear anxious. A fearful canine may show signs of anxiety by repeatedly licking its lips, yawning, avoiding eye contact, cowering, or tucking its tail between its legs.

To avoid potentially dangerous situations, be aware of these warning signs. You always want to always approach dogs with caution.

Avoid Direct Eye Contact With the Dog

Dogs are naturally territorial. They can perceive direct eye contact as a challenge or aggression. Avoid directly looking into an unfamiliar dog’s eyes if you want to avoid provoking them. Instead, look away to signal that you’re not a threat.

Additionally, if a dog approaches you aggressively, you will want to maintain a calm demeanor and avoid making sudden movements. You may want to turn your body sideways, presenting less frontal space to it. This can help the dog feel less threatened.

Don’t Run

When encountering an unknown dog, you never want to run. This can trigger its prey drive and cause it to chase after you. If an aggressive canine approaches you, stand still and avoid making any sudden movements. Slowly withdraw from its territory while keeping a close eye on its behavior. If the dog approaches you, try to maintain a steady and calm pace while distancing yourself from it.

Use Objects as Barriers

Placing an obstacle or hurdle to overcome between you and a charging dog could prevent an attack. You can use trees, posts, benches, or anything else that can serve as a physical barrier.

If you don’t have any objects nearby, another option is to carry a walking stick or cane with you. This cannot only provide a physical barrier between you and the canine but can also be used to defend yourself if necessary.

Remember to stay calm and avoid making sudden movements. If approached, always maintain a safe distance between you and the dog. If you can, slowly back away while keeping the object or walking stick between you and the animal.

Always Have a Whistle

Carrying a whistle with you while walking, jogging, or hiking can be an important safety measure, especially when dealing with aggressive dogs. They have sensitive ears. The piercing sound can startle and interrupt their behavior. In some cases, that can be enough to deter the dog from approaching you.

You can easily attach a small whistle to your keychain or keep one in your pocket during walks. In case of a dog encounter, use the whistle to create a loud, sharp sound. This distraction gives you precious seconds to assess the situation.

Be Assertive With Your Voice

One of the best ways to deter a dog bite is using assertive commands. Dogs are highly attuned to vocal cues and tend to respond well to confident voices. You will want to start by speaking in a loud, firm voice. Use direct commands like “No” or “Stay.” This will help convey a sense of authority and confidence that can help keep the dog at bay.

You want to be authoritative without being aggressive. Avoid shouting or using harsh, threatening language since this can actually escalate the situation and make the dog more agitated. Instead, focus on projecting a strong, calm, and confident tone that lets the canine know you control the situation – not them.

Carry a Water Spray Bottle

If you often walk in areas with off-leash dogs, you need to be prepared for any potential encounters. A spray bottle filled with water can stop an aggressive dog. When a dog does start to approach you aggressively, quickly spritz them with water. It won’t hurt them, but will serve as a gentle reminder to them to maintain their distance.

Change Up Your Walking Routes

Variety is key. Dogs can become territorial when they encounter the same person or another canine on a repeated basis. You can help prevent dog bites by varying your walking routes to avoid predictable encounters. With that, you can explore different neighborhoods, parks, and trails. Not only will this keep things interesting for you, but it also reduces the chances of confrontations with familiar canine neighbors.

Hopefully, these tips can help you avoid a dog attack. Unfortunately, these incidents can occur at any time and are often the fault of irresponsible pet owners. If you have been injured by a dog bite in Lanham, MD, GDH Law offers free consultations to assess the details of your case.

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