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Part Two: Protect yourself from a loose or aggressive dog

We love our dogs. We love to have our dogs on the trail with us. But there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the safety of ourselves and others.

In this two-part blog series, Noble Trails Board Member Jenna Anderson talks with Janis Crary, a certified trainer through The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® (CCPDT®), and professionals at the Humane Society of Noble County. In Part 1, we will learn how to handle our own dog on the trail, and how to greet (or not greet) dogs walking with thei

r owners. In Part 2, she will share important information on how to protect yourself if you come across a loose and potentially aggressive dog. It’s a tough, but necessary, topic.

Part Two: Protect yourself from a loose or aggressive dog

Written by Jenna Anderson, Noble Trails Board Member

Inevitably, dogs get loose. Sometimes, loose dogs have run from irresponsible pet owners who don’t try to keep them contained on their property. Other times, even owners with the best of intentions lose their dog.

So how should you react if you see an unattended dog on the trail (or anywhere else)?

“Don’t run,” said Tracie Mullins, director of the Humane Society of Noble County.

“Avoid eye contact with the dog,” said Janis Crary, a certified trainer through The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers® (CCPDT®). “Even if the dog looks friendly, dog behavior can change rapidly.”

Janis encourages you not to put a hand out for the dog to sniff. If it’s fearful, it might sniff and then react with a growl, snarl, or snap. Instead, she says the first line of defense might be dog treats.

“You can toss treats at or away from the dog to get them to move away from you,” she said.

If the loose dog just wanted to say “hi,” the treats might do the trick. But if it’s aggressive, it’s time to protect yourself.

“Do not panic,” advised Tracie. “Dogs can sense panic.”

Think about what you have with you. Do you have a backpack, umbrella, bike, or something that you can put between yourself and the dog to keep it away from you?

If your hands are empty, pick up a stick. Along much of the trail, there should be plenty around.

“Feed the bite,” said Janis. “Pick up a stick, give them other belongings for them to bite instead of you.”

Another tool to have in your backpack? Both Janis and Tracie advise having an air horn. This loud noise could startle the dog to run away, and alert others on the trail that there is trouble. If you have your dog with you, be sure the sound of the air horn will not startle your dog.

In a worst case scenario where you are defenseless and attacked, Janis advises you to try not to pull away if a dog is biting you.

“This can cause not only a puncture but also a rip,” warned Janis. “Push the body part into the dog’s mouth to put pressure on their mouth.”

Tracie instructs to brace yourself by protecting your head, neck, and torso. Get in a fetal position, if you have to. Whether you are injured or not by a loose, aggressive dog, call 911.

“I would not even hesitate,” said Tracie.

Noble Trails has posted 911 emergency locator markers every 1/10 mile throughout the Fishing Line Trail. When you call for help, dispatchers will be able to tell responders where you are. Look for the bright blue circle markers that stand out from the leaves, trees, and fields.

If you can, snap a picture of the dog so that the police and Humane Society have a description. They can work together to get the dog contained and under control, making the world safe for others.


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