Maybe your neighbor’s dog is simply an escape artist whose skill at sliding through your neighbor’s gate or jumping the fence knows no bounds. Maybe your neighbor is simply terrible about keeping track of their dog. Whatever the reason, a loose dog can be a big problem. Handle the situation the wrong way, and you can end up seriously hurt.

Here are some tips that may help:

  1. Do your best to avoid encounters. If you know a dog has a habit of running loose, it may be safest and wisest to just change your route, if you have the option. There’s no sense courting disaster if you can simply take your daily walk down another street.
  2. Stay calm and block the dog’s access to your pet or child. If you react in a visibly frightened or excited manner the way that prey might, that can trigger the dog’s instincts to attack. If the dog is loose again and headed your way, use a firm, commanding tone and tell the dog “No” or “Stop” and put your dog or child behind you.
  3. Talk to your neighbor. Preventing the dog from running loose should be the ultimate goal — for the safety of everyone in the neighborhood and the animal itself. While dogs do sometimes get loose even when an owner is vigilant, a dog that’s often loose is a sign that the owner isn’t taking enough preventative measures.
  4. File a report with the police or animal control. If all else has failed and the dog is becoming a menace to the neighborhood, you may need to get the authorities involved. At the very least, you want to document the problems that you’re having.

Despite your best efforts, you can still end up bitten by your neighbor’s dog — and dog bites have the potential to be very serious, even when they’re relatively mild. Infection and scars are a real possibility. Make sure that you understand how to claim fair compensation for your losses.