If you’ve ever been in a situation with an animal whether it was a cat stalking you or a dog barking at you aggressively then you know that animals can sometimes come across as very threatening.

Whether it’s a small pet like a puppy or a larger one like a large breed dog, pets can have big personalities and strong feelings about people. They’re also typically more protective than most of us give them credit for. And just because we don’t understand why dogs act the way they do doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prepared to deal with it. The following tips will help keep you safe and won’t escalate the situation into something worse.

1. Stay calm

It’s important to remain calm during any interaction between yourself and another person (or animal). You never want to provoke an angry response from either party. It can lead to other problems later down the road.
When dealing with an aggressive dog, it’s especially crucial to stay calm. Dogs pick up on subtle cues from humans and respond accordingly. If you start to get nervous, this could cause the dog to become even angrier.

2. Keep your distance.

This goes without saying, but it’s still worth mentioning. The closer you stand to the aggressor, the further he’ll need to move back in order to avoid contact with you. Remember, dogs have natural territorial instincts. They aren’t always going to react well when someone encroaches upon their space.

3. Don’t make eye contact.

Avoid making direct eye contact with the aggressor. This sends a message that you’re challenging him, and it gives him the upper hand. Your best bet is to maintain eye contact with the ground so that he has no idea who you are looking at.

4. Stay away from weapons

You probably already know not to touch anything sharp or pointy, but don’t assume that means you’re free to use firearms or other objects that might harm the animal. We live in a time where many homeowners carry guns around with them for self-defense purposes, but it’s dangerous to assume that others will do the same.

In the case of an aggressive dog, you have to remember that the animal isn’t necessarily trying to physically attack you. He may simply be trying to intimidate you in order to scare you off. In this instance, a firearm could easily be used against you by someone who hasn’t had any training.

5. Talk first

Before approaching or attempting to communicate with the dog, talk to friends and family members to see if anyone knows how to handle the situation. If you’re alone, try calling 911, which will connect you directly to local authorities.
Your goal here is to find a peaceful solution rather than force a fight.

6. Avoid confrontation at all costs

If you must confront an aggressive dog, your objective is to deescalate the situation. While you may feel justified in defending yourself, you don’t want to go down that path. Instead, you want to choose a less violent route, such as moving to a new location or leaving the area altogether.
Confronting an aggressive dog can quickly turn into a physical altercation that everyone loses. Take the high road and let things play out peacefully.

7. Call for help

After you’ve tried to resolve the issue peacefully, call for outside assistance. Again, the last thing you want is to initiate a full-on fight. Getting help from law enforcement officers can provide you with resources to protect yourself legally.
Law enforcement officials will assess the situation and determine how much force is necessary to resolve it safely.

8. Get professional help

If you continue to experience aggressive behavior after talking to police, consider contacting a mental health professional. There are professionals specifically trained in working with aggressive animals. These professionals can advise you on how to proceed and offer support throughout the process. If you think you may need additional legal or medical advice, contact your local law enforcement agency or attorney general’s office.

Wrap Up

Remember, you can’t control the actions of every single dog you encounter. Sometimes you’ll run into a stray that takes exception to be approached or barked at in a certain manner. Some dogs have behavioral issues that require expert treatment, while others are just acting out due to stressors in their environment.
But regardless of the reason behind the aggression, these tips will help put you in a better position to defend yourself.

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