What to Do if a Dog Runs at You and Your Dog

Walking your dog can be a delightful experience, providing exercise and bonding time for both you and your furry friend. However, encountering an aggressive dog can quickly turn a pleasant stroll into a frightening situation. It’s essential to know how to handle such an encounter to keep both you and your dog safe. Here are some important steps to take if a dog runs at you and your dog:

1. Stay calm: It’s natural to feel anxious or scared when a dog charges at you, but it’s crucial to remain as calm as possible. Dogs can sense fear, and reacting anxiously can escalate the situation.

2. Assess the situation: Try to determine if the dog is genuinely aggressive or if they are just excited. Barking and growling don’t always indicate aggression. Some dogs may simply be curious or eager to play.

3. Create distance: If the approaching dog appears aggressive, you need to create distance between your dog and them. Back away slowly while keeping your dog close to you. This action can help prevent a confrontation.

4. Avoid eye contact: Direct eye contact can be seen as a challenge or a threat by the approaching dog. Instead, focus your gaze on the ground or look away without making eye contact.

5. Use a firm voice command: If the dog continues to approach aggressively, use a firm, assertive voice to command them to “go home” or “stay.” Speak confidently but avoid shouting or screaming, as this may only escalate the situation.

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6. Protect yourself and your dog: If the aggressive dog gets too close and you’re unable to create distance, position yourself between the approaching dog and your dog. Use your body to block the aggressive dog’s path while keeping your dog behind you.

7. Use a deterrent: If you have a deterrent like an umbrella, a loud noise-making device, or even a water bottle, use it to deter the approaching dog. The sudden noise or spray of water can startle them and make them retreat.

8. Seek help from others: If possible, try to attract the attention of people nearby for assistance. They may be able to help you create a barrier between the aggressive dog and your dog, or they might be able to alert the owner or authorities.

9. Report the incident: After the incident, it’s essential to report the aggressive dog to the authorities or local animal control. Providing a detailed description of the dog, its behavior, and the location can help prevent future incidents.

10. Comfort your dog: Your dog may be frightened or anxious after an encounter with an aggressive dog. Provide them with reassurance and comfort, ensuring they feel safe and secure.

11. Consider professional training: If your dog becomes fearful or reactive towards other dogs after such an encounter, it may be beneficial to seek the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can guide you in managing your dog’s fear or aggression.


1. Can I use pepper spray or a stun gun to protect myself and my dog?

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Using pepper spray or a stun gun should be a last resort when you feel your safety or your dog’s safety is at grave risk. Check local laws regarding the use of these deterrents, as they may be regulated or illegal in some areas.

2. Should I pick up my small dog if an aggressive dog approaches?

It’s generally not recommended to pick up a small dog during an aggressive dog encounter. In some cases, it can escalate the situation, and the aggressive dog may jump up to reach your dog, potentially harming both of you.

3. What if I don’t have any deterrents with me?

If you don’t have any deterrents available, try to find an object nearby that you can place between the approaching dog and your dog, such as a large stick or a backpack.

4. How can I prevent my dog from becoming aggressive towards other dogs after such an incident?

Consistent socialization and positive reinforcement training can help prevent your dog from becoming aggressive towards other dogs. Consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for tailored guidance.

5. Can I use treats to distract the aggressive dog?

Using treats to distract an aggressive dog can be risky, as it may encourage them to get closer to you and your dog. It’s best to focus on creating distance and using deterrents rather than attempting to lure them away with treats.

6. What if I encounter an off-leash dog while walking my leashed dog?

If an off-leash dog approaches you, keep a tight grip on your leash and follow the steps mentioned above. It’s crucial to remain calm and create distance while protecting your dog.

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7. How can I identify if a dog is truly aggressive or just excited?

Aggressive dogs usually display body language such as stiff posture, raised hackles, bared teeth, intense staring, and growling. Excited dogs may have a wagging tail, a relaxed body posture, and may approach with a playful demeanor.

8. Will neutering or spaying my dog prevent aggression towards other dogs?

Neutering or spaying your dog can sometimes help reduce aggression towards other dogs, but it’s not a guaranteed solution. Aggression can stem from various factors, including genetics, socialization, and previous experiences.

9. Can I train my dog to defend itself against an aggressive dog?

Training your dog for self-defense against other dogs is not recommended. Encouraging your dog to fight back may escalate the situation and lead to injuries for both dogs and potentially for you.

10. What should I do if the aggressive dog manages to bite my dog?

If your dog gets bitten, seek immediate veterinary attention. Dog bites can cause serious injuries and may require medical treatment and preventive measures against infections.

11. Is it legal to use physical force against an aggressive dog?

Laws regarding self-defense against an aggressive dog vary by jurisdiction. It’s important to familiarize yourself with local laws to understand your rights and responsibilities in such situations.