18 Things You Need to Know If You’re Attacked by a Dog

Everyone knows that dogs are man’s best friend but it isn’t always friendly. First of all, dogs are animals with animal instincts, and even a friendly one can attack a human if something goes wrong.

At Bright Side, we’ve learned all about what you should do if a stray dog attacks you. These simple rules will help you to avoid harmful consequences.

If a dog doesn’t attack but acts aggressively

Dog body language can say a lot. If its ears are held tightly pressed back and it appears to be growling, it’s better to stay away from it and walk away as far as possible as not to provoke an attack. But what should you do if this doesn’t work out?

  • Don’t try to calm the dog down or smile at it. An animal perceives a smile differently than humans do. A smile means friendliness and joy for a human, but for a dog, it means that you’re baring your teeth and are challenging it.
  • Avoid direct eye contact and ignore the dog. Eventually, it will stop paying attention to you and will relax. Put simply, the more you show your anxiety and swing your arms, the more likely the dog will attack you.
  • If there’s someone around, ask for help. But do it softly and don’t raise your voice.
  • Don’t swing a stick at the dog or use pepper spray. This can make the dog even more aggressive. Even a friendly pup won’t be happy if you start swinging your arms or throw a stick at it.
  • Retreat slowly, but don’t turn your back to the dog. It’s better to move away with your side to the dog so that you can see its reaction. Don’t try to run! The dog will chase you and you can’t outrun a dog — they can charge faster than an Olympic sprinter!

If a dog attacks

An animal always attacks for a reason but their reasons aren’t always obvious. Usually dogs attack if they’re hungry or if they’re protecting their puppies or territory.

If despite all your actions mentioned above the dog still attacks you, you need to remember the following rules:

  • Don’t shout at the dog, even if you don’t know what else to do. Shouting will only make it angrier.
  • If you have an ultrasonic dog repeller, use it. It’ll scare the dog away.
  • If the dog charges at you, try to cover its head with your jacket or sweater when it’s within your reach. Then put an object such as a tree, post, or bench between you and the dog, or even climb a tree. The dog won’t be able to follow you there.
  • Throw your bag or any other loose object to the side to distract the dog. It may attack the object first which will give you some time to run away. It would also be good if you have food like meat or sausage with you. Perhaps that’s what the dog wants from you anyway.
  • Cover your neck with your hands. The neck is a very vulnerable part of the human body as there are many arteries and veins there. If you must be bitten, the safest place for it to happen is the shin or forearm.
  • If you are bitten, resist the natural urge to try to pull away. This will just make the injury worse through the tearing of flesh. Instead, hit the dog on its nose or eyes. Dog specialists also recommend to grab its back legs and lift them off the ground.
  • Use your weight to press the dog to the ground with your knees or elbows. Dogs can bite but they can’t wrestle. You’ll immobilize the animal this way until help arrives.

Sometimes, it may happen that you’re attacked by not one, but a pack of dogs. The general rules for your actions should be the same as above but don’t let the dogs surround you. Try to stand with your back to the wall but you shouldn’t run — they’ll chase after you.

What to do if you’ve been bitten

If you’ve been bitten you must take care of the wound immediately. Do the following:

  • Rinse the wound with soap and water and swab it with alcohol.
  • It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been bitten by a stray dog or a domestic one, you need to visit a hospital. They’ll take all necessary tests there.
  • Then you’ll have to be vaccinated for rabies. Contrary to general belief, there won’t be 20-30 injections but only 6. You’ll get shots in your stomach or shoulder.
  • According to statistics, humans get infected with rabies by dogs in 99% of cases. The first symptoms of the disease appear after 30-50 days you’ve been bitten. You need to get the rabies vaccine within 2 weeks otherwise the consequences will be fatal. There’s no treatment against rabies, only preventive measures.
  • The rabies virus can be transmitted through more ways than a bite. Sometimes, only a few drops of saliva from a sick animal on your skin or mucous membrane can cause you to get infected. That’s why you should never let a strange dog lick your hands or face.

Take care of your health and try to stay away from street animals. But if an encounter with a stray dog can’t be avoided, you now know what you should do. We hope these tips will pop in your head when you need them the most.

Have you ever had to confront an aggressive dog? Tell us about it in the comment section below and share this article with your friends and family. They may find this information useful as well.

Illustrated by Natalia Breeva for Bright Side
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