You leave the house to get some air. As you’re walking around the block, a dog on a leash appears from behind a bush or it got away from its owners while on a walk. You startle it — not that it’s your fault, but you didn’t see each other — and the dog growls. You take a step back, but it’s too late. The dog charges toward you. What now?
Do not run
The biggest thing you have to remember is to fight your instincts. You want to run, but that’s the worst thing you can do. A dog may become more aggressive and chase you, and you’re not faster than the dog. Fleeing will not help.
That doesn’t mean you don’t want to leave, as the dog may just be protecting its territory or reacting to a “threat” that is suddenly close by. You’re best off to back away slowly, in a non-threatening manner. Again, fight your instincts, which may tell you to start running.
So, your actual first step is to stop and try to appear as non-threatening as you can. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t yell. Don’t make the dog think that you’re attacking it. Turn sideways and watch the dog out of the corner of your eye. Hopefully, this will cause it to stop and bark or huff at you from at least a few feet away. When the initial charge is over, then you can start backing off to show the dog you don’t want any confrontation and you’re not a threat.
If you get bitten
This is all great in theory and can work, but life happens fast. The dog may bite you before you even think about what to do, and you need to know how to seek compensation. If the dog belongs to someone, it’s their responsibility to keep it from harming others, even if the dog was just being a dog and its instincts prevailed.