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How to Scare Aggressive Dogs Away When You Are Out Walking: Safe & Useful Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on June 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

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How to Scare Aggressive Dogs Away When You Are Out Walking: Safe & Useful Tips

Navigating through a world with curious, sometimes overly assertive dogs can be quite an adventure. Whether you’re out for a leisurely stroll or a brisk morning jog, encountering an aggressive dog can be a daunting experience.

But don’t fret! We’re providing you with a comprehensive guide filled with helpful steps and suggestions on how to handle such situations without harm to you or the dog.

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Preparation Is Key

Oftentimes, taking the time to plan ahead can do wonders for how you react to scary situations. So, before you head out the door, make sure you’re properly prepared.

1. Educate Yourself About Dogs

As in many situations, knowledge is power. Understanding canine behavior forms the bedrock of your preparation. Dogs, like humans, have their language. Their primary means of communication is body language and being able to decode this can give you a leg up.

For instance, when a dog is growling or baring its teeth, it is displaying clear signs of aggression. Other indicators could be subtler, such as a stiff tail or flattened ears.

By recognizing these signs, you can anticipate a dog’s intentions and react appropriately. It’s also beneficial to understand different breeds as some are naturally more aggressive than others.

Woman on computer doing research
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

2. Carry Dog Repellents

There’s a wide selection of non-lethal dog repellents that you can use to maintain a safe distance from an aggressive dog. Ultrasonic devices emit a high-pitched sound that’s irritating to dogs but inaudible to humans.

Other options include specially formulated pepper sprays for animals that can help deter a dog without causing long-term harm. Make sure you know how to use your chosen tool effectively and can access it quickly if needed.

3. Wear Appropriate Clothing

Dressing right is an often-overlooked aspect of preparation. Avoid wearing loose or flapping clothes that might attract a dog’s attention or give them something to grab onto. Opt instead for fitted clothes that won’t restrict your movement.

Similarly, sturdy shoes that offer protection and allow quick movement are a must. It’s all about reducing risk and maximizing your ability to respond if a dog approaches you.

woman jogging
Image Credit: Pixabay

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Before You Start Your Walk

Prior to embarking on your walk, it’s always helpful to coordinate your outing. Here are a couple of things you can do to give yourself peace of mind and confidence.

1. Plan Your Route

Prior planning can save you a lot of trouble. Prefer areas where dogs are usually leashed or fenced, reducing your chances of encountering an aggressive dog. If there are areas known to have loose or stray dogs, it’s better to avoid them altogether.

Use local knowledge, ask other walkers, or observe dog behavior on different routes to plan your path strategically.

couple jogging outdoors
Image Credit: NDAB Creativity, Shutterstock

2. Check the Weather

Surprisingly, the weather can affect a dog’s behavior. Certain weather conditions, such as stormy or windy weather, can agitate some dogs and make them more unpredictable. If possible, adjust your walking schedule to avoid such conditions. Keeping an eye on the forecast can help you better plan your walk.

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Actions During the Encounter

Even the best-laid plans can come with surprises. In what is perhaps the most important section of all, it’s here that we share essential tips to keep dogs at bay.

1. Stay Calm

Your emotions can influence a dog’s behavior. Dogs have a keen sense of fear and anxiety. If a dog approaches you, strive to maintain your composure. Keep your breathing steady and your movements slow and deliberate. Avoid direct eye contact, as dogs may perceive this as a challenge or threat.

White labrador retriever dog sits and watches a runner passing by
Image Credit: manushot, Shutterstock

2. Create a Barrier

If a dog approaches, try to place an object between you and the dog. It could be a stick, your bag, a bicycle, or anything else at hand. This barrier can discourage the dog from getting too close and give you extra space and time to react.

3. Use Your Repellent

This is when your repellent comes into play. Aim for the dog’s nose and eyes – these are the most sensitive areas. Whether you’re using an ultrasonic device or a pepper spray, ensure that you’re not harming anyone else in the vicinity.

spray bottle floral design
Image By: Engin_Akyurt, Pixabay

4. Command Firmly

Dogs are trained to respond to commands. Use this to your advantage. In a deep, firm voice, command the dog to back off. Simple, clear words such as “No,” “Back,” or “Stay” can work wonders.

Most dogs are familiar with these basic commands, and even if the dog hasn’t been trained, the assertive tone can be enough to make it hesitate.

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After The Encounter

To wrap up things, let’s talk about what you should do if you have an unfortunate encounter with an inhospitable dog.

1. Report the Incident

If the dog is clearly a pet and shows aggressive behavior, consider reporting the incident to local authorities or the owner (if known). But try to be reasonable in this regard, too. If you encroached on the dog’s territory and it merely barked at you, such a reaction is understandable.

But if a dog gave you chase in an aggressive manner while you were simply walking down the sidewalk or road, you might want to consider taking things a step further.

young policeman questioning woman at police station
Image By: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

2. Assess Any Injuries

If you’ve been bitten or scratched, clean the wound immediately and seek medical attention. There’s always a risk of the dog carrying a disease that could harm you, so don’t delay in consulting with a medical specialist.

3. Reflect on the Experience

Think about what worked and what didn’t during the encounter. This self-reflection can help better prepare for future encounters. For instance, were you able to retrieve your repellant in a fast and efficient manner? What could you do to improve your time?

Did you speak sternly enough, or do you need practice in this area? While it might be difficult to recollect events after such a nerve-racking incident, try your best. Even if you only remember small details, they can come in handy later.

woman looking outside window with uncertainty
Image By: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

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Useful Tips to Remember

Even if your memory is fuzzy about the encounter you experienced, we have some valuable tips to help you out if it happens again.

  • Respect the Dog’s Space: Encroaching upon a dog’s territory may provoke it. Try to give a wide berth to any dogs you encounter. If you encounter a barking dog in the future, use it as a warning to create space.
  • Don’t Run: While it might feel like second nature to get away as quickly as possible, don’t—running can trigger a dog’s chase instinct. As such, it’s better to move slowly and steadily away.
  • Avoid Sudden Movements: Dogs see and perceive things much differently than we do. Due to this, quick, jerky movements can cause them to alarm, potentially triggering an attack. Always remember to move calmly and predictably. If you don’t get it right the first time you have a run-in with a scary dog, don’t give up. If you stick with it and strive to improve your response, you will eventually be an expert at handling these scary scenarios. You can do it!

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Final Thoughts

Encountering an aggressive dog can be quite a traumatic experience. But if you keep these steps in mind, your next walk will hopefully be a bit less stressful!

Remember, the goal isn’t to harm the dog but rather to protect yourself while at the same time ensuring the safety and well-being of the dog. Being well-prepared and knowing what to do in these situations can make all the difference.

Featured Image Credit: MChe Lee, Unsplash

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