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How to protect yourself from dogs when jogging

Dogs can be a threat whether you are an avid runner who trains for marathons or you just jog occasionally for the exercise. Encountering a dog while exercising can throw off your routine and interrupt your workout. However, a dog can also cause painful and sometimes life-threatening injuries.

According to State Farm, Illinois had the second highest number of dog bite claims in 2018. While it is not clear how many of those claims involved people out for a jog, the data does suggest that Illinois may have a higher rate of dog bit incidents than other states have. With this in mind, it may be especially important to know how to protect yourself from dogs when you jog.

Why dogs bite people

Dogs usually bite because they feel:

  • Scared
  • Startled
  • Stressed
  • Threatened
  • Sick
  • Injured.

Dogs also bite sometimes during play. They may also bite when they are defending something precious to them, such as food, a toy, puppies or territory.

These possible reasons are important to keep in mind when jogging. For example, if you jog past the dog’s home, be mindful that it may feel it needs to defend its territory. However, an off-leash dog may also chase a jogger because the motion triggers the dog’s prey drive.

What to do if you encounter a dog

If you encounter a dog while jogging, avoid eye contact and do not panic. If the dog chases you, slow to a walk instead of a jog, or stop altogether.

Try to keep your body angled, so the dog is on your side rather than facing you directly. It may also help to try to stand with a relaxed but upright posture.

If the dog attacks, try to put anything you can between you and the dog. It could be a sweatshirt, a water bottle or anything else that the dog can bite instead of biting you. If the object distracts the dog, back away slowly to a safer place.

If the dog continues to attack you, try to protect sensitive areas like your throat, face and fingers. If you end up on the ground, curl up into a ball with your hands in fists over your ears.

If someone else’s dog injures you, you may be able to hold the dog’s owner responsible. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical expenses and other costs associated with your injuries.

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