SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Dogs may be mans best friend, but what should you do to protect yourself if faced with a situation where a dog is not so friendly and might want to hurt you? That's the subject of this week's "Don't be a Victim" report.
Each year, more than 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs, and about 800,000 require medical attention.
"One thing you have to remember is if the dog really wants to approach you there is nothing you can do to stop it. If it is off leash, the best thing you can do is to stand still," says Allisia Vroom, dog training coordinator at the Humane Society for Greater Savannah.
First, it's important to remember to never run past or away from a dog.
"If I run, I might trigger that chase drive in dogs. I might spook them. If I yell at them, I might spook them as well, so ideally, I don't even want to talk to the dog. I'm just going to pretend it doesn't exist and I'm going to walk as calmly away as I can in the opposite direction of the dog," says Vroom.
If a dog approaches to sniff you, stay still. The dog will more than likely sniff and move on. If it starts barking, leave but don't run. If you are threatened by a dog, remain calm. Vroom says, "If you are actually in fear of the dog, you don't want to turn your back to it. Again, I just want to keep my back nice and straight. If I feel like the dog might bite at my legs or anything like that, I might want to hold still a little longer. Dogs that act like they are going to attack someone are usually fearful."
And if you are attacked, protect yourself by curling into a ball.
"If a dog is truly going to bite you there is not a whole lot that you can do to stop it except to protect the important parts of your body like your face, your neck, and call for help," says Vroom.
If you are walking your own dog on a leash and another dog approaches and a fight breaks out between them, let go of the leash. You can go for the vitals, but don't stick your hands in because it could result in a serious bite. Also, there is pepper spray available that may also help ward off a threatening dog.