Dog owners are expected to maintain control of their pets at all times. Unfortunately, not all dog owners are responsible, which means you may encounter an aggressive animal when you are out and about. 

Should this occur, taking the right steps is crucial to preserve your health and safety. Here are some methods you can use to ward off a dog attack, as well as what you should do if you are bitten. 

Avoid aggressive dogs when you can

Just because an aggressive dog is behind a fence does not mean it will not pose a threat to you. Some dogs have been known to jump over their fences in pursuit of a perceived threat, so it is best to steer clear. If you are approaching a fenced-in dog who is barking or baring his fangs, cross the street or walk in the other direction. Refrain from making eye contact, as this might challenge the animal and cause him to attack. 

Know how to defend yourself

If you encounter an unleashed and unattended dog on the street, avoidance may not be possible. Never run from an aggressive dog, as he is likely to pursue you. Instead, back away slowly and command the animal in a calm, soothing voice. If the dog lunges, use whatever you have on you, be it a purse or backpack, and place it between the dog and yourself. Doing so could potentially spare you from being bitten. 

Take the proper steps if bitten

If you are not able to ward off the attack and are actually bitten, clean the wound with soap and water immediately before seeking medical assistance. If possible, provide information on the dog, such as where you encountered it. This allows medical personnel to contact the owner to determine whether the animal is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. Any information you provide can be helpful, so do not delay reaching out to the authorities.