Whether you are getting a head start on the holiday weight gain or you have always been physically active, running or jogging may be something you enjoy. There are thousands of running trails in Ocala, through forests, along rivers and in state parks. You may also live in a neighborhood that invites walks and jogs along the sidewalks.
Unfortunately, one of the most common dangers runners encounter during their quest for fitness is the threat of uncontained dogs. Even if you love dogs, you know that no dog is completely predictable, and the very act of running may be enough to trigger a primal response in an aggressive animal.
Friend or foe?
You have probably encountered dog owners whose animals run unleashed. Maybe a dog chases you for fun, and you may stop to pet it or allow it to jump on you. You may not mind, but fact is that the owner of any unleashed dog is breaking the law, not to mention being inconsiderate of people who may not appreciate a dog jumping on them.
On the other hand, you may not know when an aggressive dog will see you as prey that is running away, chase you down and attack. For the best chances of avoiding this possibility, dog handlers recommend the following actions when a dog approaches you on your run:
- Stop running. A dog will instinctively chase you if you run away.
- Avoid looking at the dog, facing the dog directly or making any sudden moves.
- Observe the dog for signs of aggression, such as raised hackles, stiff body or clenched teeth.
- Shout a firm command to the dog, such as "No!"
- Remain calm. Fear and panic will excite an aggressive dog.
In most cases, these tactics may work to protect you from harm, but that assumes the dog did not mean to harm you. If the dog feels threatened or territorial, you may not be able to deflect an attack. Some runners carry pepper spray, but there is always the danger that the wind will carry it into your own eyes. A safer alternative is an air horn, which gives a sharp blast that may break the focus of an aggressive dog.
In case you suffer injuries
A Florida dog owner is responsible for any injuries you suffer in an unprovoked attack. If your best efforts to avoid or deflect an attack are in vain, you may suffer painful, debilitating or scarring injuries. Seek medical attention immediately, and contact a legal professional who can help you take the next steps to protect yourself.