You may already know that it is generally risky and inadvisable to approach an unfamiliar dog in Illinois, and you may be careful to always keep a safe distance. However, it may be the dog that chooses to approach you. You may not want to interact with the dog, and you can rest assured that you do not have to. Nevertheless, you must use caution in reacting to this situation. You do not want to frighten or anger the dog because that could provoke an attack. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, your body language can communicate a lot to a dog. You want to make yourself appear as nonthreatening as possible. You do this by avoiding direct eye contact, adopting a less aggressive-appearing stance by turning your body partially to the side and then staying as still as possible. Once the dog sees that you are not a threat, it may lose interest and go away on its own. 

If the dog does not lose interest, you can adopt a deep voice and give the dog a firm command, such as “Go Home” or “No.” However, do not shout at the dog or make any other loud noises. If the dog still does not lose interest, you can back away slowly. 

Hopefully, these measures will be sufficient to communicate your disinterest to the dog without escalating the situation. However, in the event that a large dog knocks you over, it is essential to protect the most vulnerable areas of your body from bites. You can do this by placing your hands over your neck and ears, curling up into a ball and tucking in your head. 

The most important thing to remember when trying to avoid an unfamiliar dog is to stay calm. Even if you are scared, try not to panic. If you do, the dog may be more likely to bite. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.