What should I do if my dog is attacked?

Learn how to respond if your dog is attacked and injured, without putting yourself in harms way, and where to go for help.

29th December 2016

If your pet is attacked, it can be a frightening experience for both you and your dog. So, we’ve pulled together a guide on what to do if the worst should happen:

Why do dogs attack?

A dog may attack another dog because they feel the need to dominate, or it might be because the dog is feeling afraid or stressed because their space is being violated.

Dogs do not naturally attack humans unless they feel threatened.

The risk of dangerous dog attacks can be increased by human actions, such as neglect, abuse or carelessness in control.


How can you tell when a dog might attack?

As a dog owner, you should always remain diligent when walking your dogs in a public place. Keep an eye on how your pet is interacting with other dogs and watch out for any signs of aggressive behaviour.

You may spot a dog pacing about or glaring as you walk near their territory. A dog can give off several signals before attacking. These can include:

  • Snarling
  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Baring teeth
  • Lunging

How to avoid a dog attack

The best way to avoid a dog attack is to be vigilant when you see other canines, particularly when they are off the lead. Train your dog so that it understands basic commands and will stay close to you when you tell it to.

You should, where possible, steer clear of a strange dog’s territory as they do not like their space to be invaded.

How to avoid being bitten

If you are confronted by a vicious dog, the best thing you can do is stay calm. You should not kick or yell at the dog. An aggressive dog wants you to be stressed out before it attacks, but if you remain calm and in control, it slows them down and distracts them. If you shout you could irritate the dog further.

Try to keep your fingers curled in your palm, as this will minimise the risk of you losing a finger. If the dog does bite you, try your best not to pull away as this can increase the severity of the wound

You could also try to get to a place where there is a barrier between you and the dog.


What to do if your dog is attacked

Try to put a barrier between the dogs or distract the attacking dog’s attention with something like a stick. However, you should never use it to hit the dog.

You should never pick up your dog in an effort to protect them, as this will encourage the attacking dog to leap at you.

Your next point of call is to get medical attention for your dog. If your dog has been bitten you will need to visit a vet to examine the area for infection. When comforting your pet, be careful as dogs in pain may bite, even if they’re usually very calm.

If you or your dog is attacked by another dog, once you are safe, try to get as many details as you can about the dog. Note the colour, size, breed, markings and collar colour of the dog and take a photo if it is safe to do so.  It is important to report the attack to the local council as soon as possible.

What else should you do?

If a dog has bitten somebody, attacked another dog or seems likely to attack, you should report it immediately to the police on 101.

They will need to know or find out who owns the dog that is believed to be dangerous before they can take action.

If you believe a dog is dangerous or vicious, you should report it to your local council’s dog warden.

More tips to stay safe around dogs:

  • Beware of disturbing dogs that are eating
  • Don’t tease a lone dog or approach a dog without an owner around
  • Check with an owner before stroking a dog
  • Move calmly and quietly around any dog.

So, whilst we hope that you will not need to put these tips into practice, it is important to know what action to take in the event of a dog attack. Remember to make sure you have dog insurance, to help you avoid any unexpected vet bills.

More on our dog blog

Read more news articles, opinion pieces, reviews and personal stories behind our dogs on our blog. 


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Dog insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog gets injured or falls ill.


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