You’re walking by someone’s house on the way through town, and they have a “Beware of Dog” sign on the door. Unfortunately, they’ve also left their dog in the yard without a fence, so that dog suddenly runs around the corner of the house and comes straight at you, snarling.
Your basic instinct is to run from what is clearly an aggressive and dangerous dog. But is that actually the best option?
The role of the chase instinct
In most cases, running away is not wise and should be avoided. The problem is that most dogs have a chase instinct that is triggered when someone runs. If you flee, the dog then sees you as prey, and it may be more likely to chase you and to attack.
Instead, it’s typically best to calmly try to back away. Don’t make eye contact with the dog, but do stay facing in its direction. Back off slowly, perhaps while talking in a firm voice. You want to keep the overall energy level of the encounter down, and it can help you calm the dog down while retreating from what the dog thinks of as its own territory.
The second reason not to run is that most dogs are twice as fast as humans, at minimum. Many can run three or four times as fast. This makes fleeing unrealistic. If the dog does want to catch you, it will.
What to do after an injury
Even knowing not to run doesn’t guarantee you won’t get injured by this dangerous dog. If you do, you may need financial compensation for pain and suffering, scarring, medical bills, lost wages and many other related costs.