Diffuse the Situation
If you are in an open space, you can try to stand your ground and gaze at the dog somewhere along his body. Don’t gaze directly into it’s eyes, but let the dog know that you are not scared. There is a good chance the dog will back down and give you your space as you assert your dominance. If you are in an enclosed space, do not rush to get closer to the animal, and don’t run away either. Turn your body sideways to reduce your profile and look at his body before walking away.
In both cases, you are asserting your dominance and letting the dog know that you are standing your ground without being a threat. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it should be the first thing that you do. Most attacks occur after the dog provides ample warning through barking or growling, and using this phase to your advantage can help to avoid problems from escalating.
Use a Stick or Other Object
You can also use a stick, cane, umbrella or any other object that you can put in front of you to enlarge your personal space. You will appear as a bigger threat to the dog, and this may be enough to scare it off or cause it to back down. If the dog lurches at you in attack mode, you can slap the stick on the ground, swat at the dog or hit it if necessary.
If an Attack is Imminent
If an attack is going to happen, try to wrap your weak arm with a jacket, sweater or shirt, or try to get the arm out of the sleeve. In both cases, offer it to the dog as a distraction. This will give you the option to take action with your stronger arm. Remember that a dog only has one mouth, so if it is occupied with something else, then you can easily overpower the dog and neutralize the attack.
Even if the dog bites you, you can still use that moment to your advantage. Remember that you need to be in control and have your wits about you, even if the animal is sinking its teeth into your flesh. Look for any opportunity to get control of the situation. If you have a pocket knife, use it. If you only have your other hand, beat the dog over the head, pull it up by it’s hind legs, grab its throat. You will only have a couple of seconds to react once his mouth is clamped down on your sleeve or skin, so make good use of the opportunity.
The same principle applies if the dog knocked you to the ground or if it has latched on to your leg. Position yourself face-up, and use your free hand or hands to wrestle and immobilize the dog by whatever means you have at your disposal.
Remember that most attacks can be diffused by your actions before they occur. However, when they happen, you need to be able to think clearly without panicking. Grabbing the throat, tail or genitalia of a dog will cause it to quickly stop the attack and become distracted from pain. Even if you need to sacrifice getting bitten in order to subdue the animal, it’s better to have one or two wounds and neutralize the dog than to suffer severe injuries because you didn’t take advantage of good self-defense techniques.