Protect Yourself: What to Do When You Encounter an Aggressive Dog on the Street

A dog bark is its way of communicating with you, other human beings or with other dogs. Barking is their language and only because we humans don’t speak „dog“, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their barks are devoid of any meaning and just an annoying thing which comes with dog. 

But listen closely, there are many different kinds of barks – Woof! – which are usually triggered by specific circumstances or situations. Some of the more common reasons causing a dog to bark are: Fear, or an enthusiastic, friendly greeting, sounding the intruder alert, protecting their territory but telling everyone to stay off, or maybe its a call for attention, or maybe your dog never gets a walk and is simply bored, so it burns its excessive energy by barking at the moon for hours. 

When a dog barks, it communicates with the outside world its emotional state. It is very important to learn to read a dogs body language, as it allows us in an instant to assess the present situation by reading clues how the dog feels and thus understand why it barks. 

Once you know the reason for a dog barking, it is very easy to act in the right way to communicate to the dog that you acknowledge its presence and mean no harm. This usually instantly dissolves a tense situation without anyone getting hurt and can be applied with all dogs you encounter anywhere you go.

I can smell your Fear!

There are several types of barks which are a clear signal to you that you should better stay away. But what if you encounter an aggressive barking dog on the street who is not on a leash and completely out of control?

When Ollie arrived in our shelter he was heavily traumatised after having been forced to live in a small cage for 10 months.

It took many months of rehabilitation until his behaviour began to change. He has improved a lot and rarely displays signs of extreme aggression but we still have a long way to go until he is fully rehabilitated.

When you are scared of something and find yourself suddenly in a fearful situation, automatically your body releases into your system a hormone called “adrenaline” which makes you instantly awake and alert; your senses are heightened and your mind is focussed on one thing only: how to get out of this situation unharmed.

Unlike humans, who perceive the world mostly through vision and sound, for dogs their ability to smell almost anything is their preferred way to gather information about their surrounding and people or other animals they interact with. A dog’s sense of smell is so extremely superior to our ability to smell, that its almost incomprehensible to humans how dogs are able to sniff out a few atoms of any substance they have been trained with, how it is possible that they can detect cancer cells or know in a pitch black night from 100 meters away that the man walking towards us is drunk or completely high on drugs.

A dog with its incredible heightened sense of smell can detect fear, anxiety, anger inside you even from far away and chooses one way of action it deems most suitable when a scared or aggressive person comes closer to its territory. Dogs, same as a lot of other animals, can read your emotional energy directly by perceiving the subtlest vibrations emitting from your body. 

But as easily as dogs can sniff any trace of fear inside you, it can also also perceive instantly if you are in a calm, assertive, happy or peaceful state. Dogs sense without any fail if you are a danger to them or not as they read your emotional state, even if you try to put on a fake smile, trying desperately to cover up your anxiety.

You can’t trick a dog, it will always know your emotional state if you want it or not, but you can learn how to change your consciousness in the instant a dog approaches you and don’t just react automatically with fear.

Using the ? I.D.E.A. ? method, you will learn how to send out unmistakable signals to any aggressively barking dog which you encounter on the street, that you pose no danger, nor will try to attack it, but just walk by minding your own business. The dog will sense your inner calmness and strength and will not run after you to attack you.

Tips and Tricks

Here are a few tips of how to avoid getting bitten when encountering an aggressive dog who run around loose on the street.

  1. Always remember, calmness is strength in a dog’s eye. Even you might be feeling anxious if out of the blue a dog is charging towards you, try to remain as calm yet assertive as possible. Dogs often like to test people’s reactions by trying to push them to their limits and some even do enjoy their powertrip, seeing humans shivering in fear in front of them. Tough, fierce dogs know that many people are terrified of them and happily use every chance they get to feel dominant threatening everyone who just happens to walk by.
  2. Even this sounds crazy: Try to ignore the dog as much as possible. Many dogs will quickly lose interest in you if you show them that you are not interested at all to play their game of terror.
  3. Either keep your arms loose at sides or what I always prefer to teach clients, cross them in front of your chest to prevent an aggressive dog from biting them. If you stick out your hands to protect yourself from the dog in front of you, it might be more encouraged to jump up and nip at them. Not a good idea.
  4. Never try to outrun an aggressive dog in pursuit, under no circumstances. If you run, this will trigger a dog’s natural hunting instinct as they are predators by nature and they will chase you. Remain calm and show to the dog that you are not afraid. No sudden movements!
  5. Stand your ground: Move your body in a controlled and slow way turning it sideways so that you don’t face the dog directly which is a very aggressive gesture in the dog’s eyes.
  6. Don’t turn your back to the aggressive dog. It’s important that you remain aware where the dog is at all times, as it can approach very fast. By constantly rotating slowly so that you stand sideways to it, you are sending out calming signals, communicating through your body language that you are neither a threat nor that you are scared.
  7. Try to speak in calming tones to the dog. It doesn’t really matter what you say as dogs don’t speak human language, but it can sense immediately the energy behind your words. Speak slow and with a soothing voice: „It’s okaaay, gooood boooy. Caaalm. Caaalm.“
  8. Control your breathing. Taking deep, slow, even breaths will automatically calm down your body and your emotions and dogs can sense this in an instant. If you feel really anxious and your mind screams at you in panic try to count. Take a slow breath and while inhaling count to five, hold it for two seconds and let it out for five beats.
  9. Don’t look directly into the eyes of the aggressive dog as it may prompt it to attack. Dogs are all about status. Eye contact tells the dog that you are ready and up to challenge this alpha in front of you for dominance.
  10. Distraction! If you have some dog treats in your pockets, try to throw them in some distance away from you and the dog to distract it, but most people don’t carry dog treats with them all the time.
  11. You can always try to place a jacket, a your handbag or anything you are carrying in between you and the dog. If the dog bites into it, let it have it and use this distraction as an opportunity to slowly move away.
  12. If its a rainy day and you are carrying your umbrella with you, it might be your lucky day. Simply opening an umbrella and spinning it will might have some dogs rethink if they want to attack you, especially if your umbrella has some patterns on it. But please be aware that you don’t want to use your umbrella as a weapon in case some dogs are not impressed by your spinning wheels magic as some dogs especially if they are huge will attack you and your little umbrella mercilessly.
  13. Another good trick if you see an aggressive dog in the distance coming towards you, is to pick up a piece of wood, a branch or anything you can find beside you and hold it high up in the air. This will immediately make a superbig monster out of you and some dogs will stop in their track and bugger off.
  14. If the dog stops charging towards you and barks in some distance at you, its a good idea to slowly back away from it. Move sideways with small steps, control your breathing and your fear. Only turn your back and walk away when you are at a safe distance from the dog.
  15. If you are riding a bicycle, place it between your body and the dog as it creates a natural barrier and will protect you.
Author: freakingcat
You can contact me under