Few things are as suddenly frightening as a dog attack. One minute, you’re out for a simple jog in your neighborhood. You’re listening to music and enjoying your time outside. Then, a dog charges out of a nearby lawn, barking ferociously enough to cut through the music, and you can see that it’s not on a leash or behind a fence.

Instantly, you react. But what should you do? Some natural reactions — like running away from the dog — can actually make things worse. Doing that could make the dog see you as prey and itself as the predator, and the dog has a natural instinct to chase you.

Instead, here are a few tips that could help prevent an attack and keep you safe:

  • Turn sideways so that the dog has a smaller target. This also protects your stomach and other more vital areas.
  • Do not make eye contact with the dog, as it could take that as a challenge.
  • Attempt to ignore the dog. Do not engage with it. Make yourself as boring as you can, and the dog may lose interest in you.
  • Slowly leave the area. The dog may be protecting its territory, and walking away calmly could cause it to retreat, thinking it has succeeded.
  • Instead of reaching out toward the dog, cross your arms. Remember that reaching out could appear aggressive and the dog may bite your hand.
  • As you walk away, look for any sort of barrier. It could be a tree, a fence or even the road. Try to get something between the dog and yourself.
  • If there are no barriers, consider moving to higher ground. Dogs are already shorter than humans and moving higher makes it far harder for the dog to bite you.
  • Try not to shout. Stay calm. If you speak, do it in a calm, even voice.
  • If all of this does not work and the dog still attacks you, attempt to put something over its eyes. This can disorient the dog, which may back off, and you can then get away.

As you can see, a lot of your natural instincts may be wrong. Yelling, screaming, running or fighting the dog may all seem like good solutions in the moment, but they can escalate the situation and make things worse.

Your rights

Of course, knowing how to treat a dog during this type of encounter does not guarantee that you will not suffer some serious injuries. You could even wind up dealing with a disfigurement or a disability. Make sure you are well aware of your legal rights in New Jersey and all of the steps that you can take to seek compensation from the dog’s owners.