Encountering a potentially aggressive dog is an intimidating experience. While it’s the responsibility of the dog owner to keep their animal secured, far too many people don’t take the issue seriously, which can lead to significant injuries. That’s why it’s important to know the steps you can take to avoid being bitten by an attacking dog, as explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

There are different situations where you may encounter and unfamiliar dog. You might meet a dog when visiting a friend’s home or while walking outside. No matter the situation, it’s best to approach all unfamiliar dogs cautiously. If you’d like to pet the animal, be sure to ask the owner first. Some dogs are skittish around strangers and may react aggressively to unwanted attention. If you do attempt to pet the dog, let him sniff your hand first. This will also give you time to gauge its reaction. 

If you encounter an unleashed dog without an owner, remain calm. Don’t make direct eye contact, as this can inflame the dog’s aggression or fear. Running away from the dog can also excite the animal, so it’s best to remain where you’re standing and command the animal to go away in a clear, confident voice. 

A dog may still attack, even with your best efforts to evade it. In this case, try to get something between yourself and the attacking animal, such as a purse or backpack. If you happen to fall on the ground, protect your neck and face with your arms and form your body into a ball. If you’re bitten, seek out immediate medical attention. Even minor bites can become infected, and a doctor must assess your rabies risk if you’re bitten by an unknown animal.