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Should you run from a dog to avoid a bite?

You're out for an afternoon jog when a dog bursts out of its yard and runs right at you. You don't know if it broke off of a chain or a leash or if it was never restrained to start with, but it makes no difference now. It's coming.

Your flight or fight syndrome kicks in, and your first instinct is simply to run. You're already jogging. Should you just turn and bolt the other way as fast as you can?

No. You'll never outrun it, so that instinct doesn't help you. If anything, you'll just antagonize the dog, who will instinctively give chase. In the predator/prey relationship, you've just declared that you're the prey.

Instead of running, you're best off to:

  • Slow down.
  • Stare at the dog to establish your own dominance.
  • Attempt to move away slowly.
  • Do not turn your back on the dog. Walk backward if you have to.
  • Talk to the dog in a calm and controlling voice.
  • Keep your body as small and straight as possible. Keep your legs together and your hands at your sides.
  • Do not make any sudden movements. You're not going to scare the dog away. You simply want to diffuse the situation.

Remember, the dog thinks you are running because you're trying to sprint into its territory. That looks like a threat. When you slow down and move away, all while showing that you're in control, it stops thinking of you as either a threat or prey.

This tactic can help, but there is no guarantee you won't get bitten by an aggressive dog. Make sure you know all of your legal options if you are.

Source: Run To Win, "What do you do if a dog wants to chase you?," Blaine Moore, accessed Feb. 28, 2018

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