While most dogs are loving family pets, they are still animals that can attack when they feel threatened. Even small breeds and otherwise friendly dogs can bite under the right circumstances, causing serious injuries. In some cases, an incident with a dog can require the involvement of an attorney to recover damages from the animal's owner. Knowing how to respond to a dog that is showing signs of aggression can help prevent this from happening. 

What to Do When You Encounter an Aggressive Dog

1. Read the Animal's Body Language 

Aggressive dogs try to make themselves look bigger. They might stand up straight with their ears up, and the fur on their back and tail is puffed out. Even as the animal bares its teeth, barks or growls, and stares at you, it may wag its tail. Misinterpreting the wagging tail and continuing to approach could result in an attack. 


An anxious dog may also bite in response to fear. Scared animals make themselves look smaller by crouching down and flattening their ears. Let a scared dog make the first move; moving toward them may be threatening. Not to mention, in a dog bite case, if the owner's attorneys can show that your actions provoked the animal, your case will be damaged. 

2. Remain Calm

If you're approached by an aggressive dog, stay calm. Do not try to run away. The dog can — and will — outrun you. Back away slowly without turning your back to the dog. If you are on the ground, curl up in the fetal position and cover your head with your arms. Keep your hands in fists to protect your fingers. 

3. Avoid Eye Contact

Never make eye contact with an aggressive dog. Animals see eye contact as a challenge. Attorneys and animal experts also caution against smiling at an aggressive animal. Dogs interpret smiling as baring your teeth and making a threat. 

4. Speak Softly

Do not yell or try to intimidate an aggressive dog, which again, attorneys will argue is evidence that you provoked the attack. Speak softly, in a soothing voice, to let the animal know you mean no harm. Do not attempt to scare the dog off with a stick or by throwing anything at it, either. 

5. Keep an Object Between You and the Dog 

If the dog attacks, try to put something in between you and the animal, like a bag, purse, or jacket. If they make contact, do not pull away as that will worsen your injuries. Do your best to remain calm until help arrives. 


If you have been injured by an aggressive dog, the attorneys of Ely, Bettini, Ulman, Rosenblatt, & Ozer, Attorneys at Law in Phoenix, AZ, can help you get compensation from the animal's owner. These experienced personal injury lawyers have a track record of success, having secured over $100 million in compensation for their clients. To request a consultation, call (800) 303-2144 or visit their website to learn more about the firm.