What To Do If You’re Attacked By A Dog

A runner's guide to protecting yourself from an aggressive dog while protecting the animal as well.

RW Editors |

A runner’s guide to protecting yourself from an aggressive dog while protecting the animal as well.


As fond as we are of our furry pals, there’s one thing we don’t appreciate: being chased by them while we’re running. What can you do to protect yourself from canines on the run? For answers, we went to dog training expert, Karen Peak, and JT Clough, a professional dog trainer.

Below are their tips:

If you are chased…

  • Slow down. Slow your run to a walk. “The prey instinct dogs have is triggered by fast movement,” says Peak. “Slowing down to a walk makes you seem less interesting.”
  • Turn and walk in the opposite direction of the dog, but keep watching the dog out of the corner of your eye.
  • Don’t stare. “Staring a dog in the eyes can be interpreted as a threat by some dogs,” warns Peak. “Keep the dog in sight, but avert direct eye contact.”
  • Be boring. If the dog approaches you, stop and stand very still. The more boring you are, the less you’ll interest the dog.
  • Don’t cower, as this may activate a prey response. Don’t adopt a combative position either, this may instigate a fight. Instead, stay relaxed and use an upright posture to give a sense of authority.
  • Use a deep, firm voice to convey a sense of calm, not a high-pitched, shrieking voice. The latter broadcasts fear and may activate the dog’s fight instinct.
  • If a scary dog really comes at you, spray it with water if you have a bottle. Clough suggests carrying mace, just in case. “It sounds terrible, but it doesn’t hurt the dog, and you’re teaching it not to be so aggressive.”
  • Report it. If an aggressive dog continually threatens you on a run, choose a different route and file a report with animal control.

If you are attacked…

  • Hit the ground. If the dog attacks, cover your head and curl into a ball. “Your best bet in an attack is to minimise access to the soft tissue areas such as your throat, face, and belly,” says Peak.
  • Start yelling. But scream something that you know will get people’s attention, such as “Fire!” “Help” may not do it.

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