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What should you do if a dog is going to attack?

When a dog attacks, you may be completely caught off-guard. Whether it's a random dog that attacks you on a run or a friend's pet who gets upset over a toy or item on your clothing, the reality is that a dog attack can happen seemingly out of nowhere. If you're not prepared, there's a high risk of serious injuries that the owner of the pet will be held liable for in most cases.

Before an attack, you can often see a dog preparing to take action against its perceived threat. For example, you may notice it back away from you when you reach out to it or see it tuck its tail. It may growl, bark or raise its lips to expose its teeth. Dogs may also freeze or suddenly lunge, showing you that they are frightened or taking action to get rid of the threat they're sensing.

If you notice that a dog is feeling aggressive or threatened, you need to take immediate action to defuse the situation. First, avoid all eye contact. Eye contact may make the animal think that you're challenging it. Next, turn to the side slowly and cross your arms. This makes you seem smaller and like less of a threat.

Do your best to ignore the dog at this point, and be still while the dog shows aggression. Once you notice it begin to back down or that it is not advancing, begin to back away slowly. Most dogs will not attack a retreating target that calmly backs away. At that point, put space between you and the animal and do your best to put a barrier between you as well. For example, if there is a porch with a gate nearby, try to get behind the gate so that you can call for help.

Source: Positively, "What to Do When a Dog Attacks," accessed March 30, 2018

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