Dogs are loyal, but that loyalty will only extend to their owners. They may see other humans as potential threats. That’s why it’s always important to exercise caution when approaching an unfamiliar dog. It’s impossible to judge its temperament before meeting it.

Unfortunately, some dog owners don’t take their responsibility to secure their dog seriously. If the canine decides to attack unexpectedly, the owner needs to have a way to control the dog. That is usually either a leash or a fenced-in yard.

Without any restraint, an innocent bystander could be in serious trouble if a dog goes after them. Two women found themselves being attacked suddenly in Arizona earlier this year after an owner let their dogs wander without supervision. A man finally stopped the attack by shooting the animals. The victims had wounds severe enough to require hospitalization, but luckily recovered.

How to handle a dog attack

It can be terrifying to see an aggressive dog approaching, but it’s important to stay as calm as possible. Before a dog lunges, the CDC recommends telling it to, “Go home!” in a loud and authoritative voice.

If that fails to stop an advancing dog, you need to put something between you and the animal. This barrier could be a coat, a bag or anything you may be carrying. The goal is to keep the dog from making contact with your skin.

In the case that a dog manages to knock you over, it’s critical to protect your head and face. The CDC recommends curling into a fetal position with arms wrapped around your neck and hands covering your ears.

After an attack, make sure to wash thoroughly any areas where the skin is broken. Dogs can carry many types of bacteria and germs, which can then infect a human. If the wounds are serious, it’s important to seek professional medical attention.