You hear a snarl and a bark as you jog down the sidewalk, and suddenly a dog is running at you. It’s a large animal, perhaps half of your own weight, and you’re instantly frightened. From the way it is approaching, you feel sure it’s going to bite. 

What do you do now? You only have a second or two in which to make a decision, and what you do can have a dramatic impact on how the encounter plays out. You want to calm the dog down and avoid injury. 

First and foremost, do not scream or run away. The dog may interpret your scream as a hostile action, making it more likely to bite. It may also interpret your running away as a “predator vs. prey” situation, causing it to instinctively chase and attack you. 

To calm the dog down, you need to stay calm yourself. Stand still in one place. If you talk to the dog, do it in a calm voice. Don’t reach out for it or attempt to strike it. Fold your arms in toward your body. 

As you do this, don’t make eye contact. You may be trying to communicate that you’re friendly, but the dog can take it as a challenge. Don’t turn your back, either, but look off to the side and wait for the dog to calm down naturally. When it does, start backing away from it in a slow fashion. Do not start jogging again until you are out of sight. 

These common tips can help, but there’s no guarantee you won’t get bitten. It happens often, and it can lead to medical bills, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and much else. You need to know what options you have to claim compensation for your losses. If the owner doesn’t immediately take responsibility, find out more about your rights.