Protect yourself from a charging dog with this trainer’s tips

Three aggressive looking dogs running around each other
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Walking your dog or spending time with your pup at the dog park can be a great bonding exercise that’s good for canine and human alike. Outdoor environments provde you with a great space to overcome things like the most common leash walking mistakes or useful commands like how to teach your dog to heel.

But sometimes, no matter how well-behaved your dog is, you might find another dog off-leash and charging at you. At best, it can be an unpleasant surprise, and at worst it could be actively dangerous for you or your dog – and you won’t even be able to stop them by offering the best dog treats

However, there are ways to stop a dog from charging at you. After a follower inquired on Instagram, Adam Spivey, founder of Southend Dog Training, explained how to stop a charging dog. Watch him explain this in the video below or carry on reading to find out everything he had to say. 

 “Stand your ground,” he begins, “It’s only prey that runs away from predatory animals. Stamp your foot … If you’ve got a lead in your hand, swing that round, make a windmill. Got an umbrella? Open that up”.

He explains that when a dog runs toward you barking, it’s a bluff. But, when you move away, “that bluff becomes reality, and you’ve got a much higher chance of getting bitten”. He points out that, even if you do move away, you aren’t going to outrun a dog.

In contrast, if you stand your ground and make noise, the dog is more likely to stop in its tracks. “Obviously, there are no guarantees that you won’t get bitten,” Spivey explains, “But you stand less chance of getting bit if you stand your ground”. 

It’s important to note that this is just one trainer’s perspective and advice. It will not guarantee you safety from an aggressive dog and you may hear dividing advice from another trainer or behaviorist. 

If you’re still wondering what to do if you encounter aggressive dog behavior, it’s also a good idea to take a closer look at why dogs might display this sort of behavior. 

For example, a lot of aggression actually stems from fear. It might be that you see a dog that’s fiercely protective over their family and feels as if you pose a threat, or that the dog you encounter is worried you’ll steal their food, or something they’ve found on their walk. 

And it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the signs that a dog might attack, too, including the basics of dog body language. They might become more tense and stiff, bare their teeth, or growl before attacking.

You’re never going to totally eliminate the risk of a dog charging at you. All you can do is train your own dog, and prepare yourself to react in the best possible way if it does happen.

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.