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Tips for dealing with an aggressive dog on the run

agressive dog

You’d be hard-pressed to find a runner who hasn’t had at least one experience with an aggressive dog on the run. If this has happened to you, you’ll be able to relate to the fact that it is unnerving and sometimes downright scary. Here are tips for handling the situation if you come across an aggressive dog on.

Stay calm

While researching strategies for this article, one common thing that resources advised is to remain calm. this can be hard. When I ran into an unfriendly rottweiler, I startled, screamed and sprinted away; not the picture of ‘calm.’

Slow down


Even though it may not seem like a fun game of chase to you, that is how a dog may view a runner. Slow down to a stop and you’re likely to become boring and the dog may lose interest.

Prove you’re human

Some dogs can be frightened by sunglasses and hats, common attire for runners. Taking off these accessories can signal to the dog that you’re nothing to be afraid of.

Use your voice

There are common phrases that are almost universally recognized by dogs, that can be used to calm an unknown canine down.

Try out:

  • “Where’s your ball?”
  • “Want to go for a walk?”
  • “Want a cookie?”

Even though you may be frightened, try and deliver one of these lines in a happy, upbeat voice to diffuse the situation.

Don’t stare

Dogs often interpret direct eye contact as a threat. If you come across an aggressive dog, don’t turn your back, but also don’t look it straight in the eyes.


If you’re harassed by a dog, call your local animal services.

A final word for dog owners: be respectful to runners by keeping your dog on leash in high traffic areas. Do not allow your dog off leash unless you are positive that they will return to you when called and do not allow them to get far enough ahead that they are out of your field of vision. Calling out “she’s friendly!” is not sufficient warning for a runner. Even the friendliest of canines can pose a tripping threat to a runner and you also don’t know whether or not that person is afraid of dogs.