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loose-dogYou’re walking along – alone or taking your own pet around the block – and you spot a stray or loose dog at a distance. In this scenario, a fight between both dogs could easily ensue – with you and your pet getting bit or injured in the process. Often, the confrontation comes on unexpectedly. The neighborhood is quiet, until you hear a dog barking and see it running out of an open door, escaping from the yard, or getting away from a distracted owner. To handle the situation, be ready with these points:

If You’re With Your Dog

Don’t Get in the Middle of a Fight: The incident will quickly turn into a full-on attack. Instead, as you’re walking your dog, focus on keeping it calm; barking or lunging will agitate the unattended animal. Move away from the scene – walk but don’t run. Instinctively, the unleashed dog will chase if you run and attempt to bite you. Ideally, go to the other side of the street or behind a parked car. Some also recommend commanding the loose animal to “sit” or “stay” and then use the “stop” hand signal.

Have Your Emergency Tools Ready: Get your air horn, compressed air can, or rape whistle out. The loud noise can startle, scare, or confuse the other dog.

Observe It and Go: Even if a confrontation doesn’t occur, know how to get out of the situation. It’s advised that you watch the other dog’s body language at a distance – is he rigid, with ears tucked or pulled, and giving direct eye contact? Get your pet to focus on you – even be ready with a treat, if your dog is easily distracted – and then take a different route.

Alert Neighbors: If the loose dog won’t leave you alone, start making loud noises to draw attention to yourself and alert the neighbors.

If You’re Alone

Stay Calm: Unattended dogs are a common issue for bikers, joggers, and runners. The swiftly moving activity incites a dog to start barking, chasing, or attempting to bite. As a first resort, stay calm. This isn’t simply being still or slowing down. Rather, send such “calming” and “unthreatening” signals as yawning, licking your lips, avoiding eye contact, or letting the dog approach to sniff you.

Don’t Act Dominant: This common piece of advice doesn’t always work – and can place you in a worse situation.

If an Attack Starts: Try to fend off the animal, with a stick, bag, or any other item available. In the process, use your forearm to protect your face and neck. To leave the scene, back away while facing the dog but without giving eye contact.If a bite occurs, get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Although state laws vary, dog owners are required to control their pets. When an attack happens, the injured party often needs extensive medical treatment and may miss work, resulting in reduced income. If you find yourself in this situation, turn to Trantolo & Trantolo’s dog bite attorneys to handle your case.