When a dangerous dog charges you or starts growling, your first instinct is to run. Your fight or flight response kicks in, and most people just try to get away as fast as possible.
While you obviously don’t want to fight the dog, flight is also the wrong response in most cases. Instead, you should stay calm and try to deescalate the situation. Let’s take a look at three reasons why running is a bad idea.
The chase response is a real issue
First and foremost, dogs generally have a chase response. They want to chase. This has been bred into them over generations. When the dog sees you run, it is more likely to increase its pace and get more riled up. In short, fleeing just makes things worse, and odds are that the dog is going to run after you and bite.
You are simply not fast enough
Even if you were a world-class sprinter — and most of us are not — you would not be able to outrun an aggressive dog. A person who is out for a casual run tends to move at about seven miles per hour. A dog can run around 15-20 miles per hour, or around two to three times as fast. The fastest dogs can go around 45 miles per hour.
You have to turn your back
To sprint away from the dog, you need to turn your back, which can also make an attack more likely. The best option is to slowly back away while facing the dog, albeit without making eye contact. Many aggressive dogs will not strike while you’re looking at them, but will stop, bark, and wait for an opportunity. Don’t give them one, and you may be able to back off enough that they calm down and leave you alone. Turn your back to run, and they may see that as their opportunity to attack.
What if you still get bitten?
It’s good to know how to approach an aggressive dog and what not to do, but you could still be bitten anyway. If you are, you may deserve compensation for your medical bills and other costs.