Dogs are generally known to be “man’s best friend.” Domestic dogs, in particular, are not inherently aggressive towards people. They do not attack instantaneously and impulsively, unless threatened or provoked.

The behavior of dogs usually depends on how owners trained them, their upbringing and environment. Other factors that may affect their temperament are: development during gestation, diet, routine, exercise and socialization.

However, there will be instances where you will encounter an aggressive dog while you were walking on your way home, or roaming around a street or alley. When this happens, proper and controlled reaction can help you stay unscathed. Dealing with a dog’s aggression appropriately can even save your life!

The best thing to do is to practice and know how you should react to such situation before thinking of retaliation. You should not approach a dog without the owner’s permission. If it’s a strange dog, avoid touching it instantly.

Check below some other helpful tips on to properly react to a dog’s aggression, especially if the canine is unfamiliar.

Pay attention to its body language

The inability of dogs to orally communicate their exact thoughts and feelings with us imposes a challenge. Nonetheless, there are alternative ways to know if it’s being aggressive or excited. One way to determine its behavior is to read and pay attention to its body language.

Below are some points to remember:

  • Never approach a dog that swings his tail but barks at you with defensive position, tense face, and hard staring eyes.
  • You may go near it if the tails are held low, or it has flattened ears, a soft body posture, and squinted eyes. Approach slowly, never move abruptly or surprise the dog.
  • Yawning and licking signifies that the dog is under stress.
  • The dog may be upset if its hair is raised along its back.
  • Look at the dogs movement

    By merely looking at the dog’s movement you can assess whether the dog is happy, sad or angry.

  • An aggressive behavior is always indicated by an attack stance. Other signs are: if it looks hard at you, raised its fur, and crumpled its muzzle. In this instance, you have to anticipate its next move and stay calm as much as possible.
  • When the dog wants to play, it will show exaggerated facial and body movements. The movements are characterized as loose and wiggly.
  • If it doesn’t want social interaction, it will try to move slowly, or move away.
  • A scared dog may fall back, tremble, bring down its head and body, lowers and tucks its tail.
  • An extremely frightened dog may tend to move away or sometimes urinates and defecates when approached.
  • Move slowly and calmly away

    The rule of thumb when it comes to dealing with an agitated and aggressive dog is to move slowly and calmly away. Avoid invading its territory by crossing and walking on the other side of the street. Do not turn your back and run, it can be a sign of weakness and an invitation to attack.

    Moreover, control your breathing because the dog can detect your emotion whether you are angry, scared or excited. Refrain from making eye contact with the dog, as it may be interpreted as a challenge. Do not beat an aggressive dog, as it will get more violent.

    Don’t Panic

    And in worse case scenario, don’t panic when the dog starts to attack you—do your best to escape immediately. Also, try to put something that can serve as a shield between you and the attacking dog.

    Crouch into defensive angle as this can help you threaten the dog a bit. You can also stretch your legs and make a squatting stance.

    In case bitten

    Perform first aid immediately and look for medical care. You should ask for help, or you should rush yourself to a clinic or a hospital. It’s important to treat your wound or injury right away and prevent possible contamination of a viral infection like rabies.

    Furthermore, you may seek legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer, who can help you claim your insurance due to a dog bite. You can negotiate for a fair settlement with the insurance company, or the lawyer can institute an action against the dog owner for damages.


    When you spot an aggressive dog, don’t panic and move slowly and calmly away. It’s always important to observe its body language and movements first before you act. Refrain from retaliating as it could worsen the situation.

    Author's Bio: 

    Lilly Myers is a freelance content writer and social worker at Beverly Hills Speech Therapy. She has just recently received Master's in Medical Sciences. Besides her occupancy she tries to find a spare time for volunteering and helping the people with disorders.