PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – For many people, simply avoiding a dog that looks and sounds ferocious would seem easy enough.

However, what if you find yourself in the moment – staring down an unfamiliar, snarling, growling dog?

Worse yet, what if you find yourself in that split-second when that dog lunges at you?

KDKA-TV’s Kym Gable talked to some experts on what to do in the event of a dog attack.

Sean McGinty, in padded gear, demonstrated what a dog attack is like with the help of a trained protection dog.

“What he’s trained to do is search for the bad guy, bark and hold him so he’s not supposed to bite him unless he moves away or forward,” of Pittsburgh Dog Training Owner Kristi Hudak said.

Hudak said her approach is based on re-enacting real scenarios

She says her lessons can provide insight on how to deal with an aggressive dog and how to survive if one bites or attacks you or someone else.

“In a real situation, if someone is standing still, the dogs won’t and shouldn’t bite,” she said. “You can learn not to run away from a dog or run toward a dog and make any sudden movements.”

That may sound easier said than done, especially when fear and adrenaline take over.

“The dogs sense that and your first instinct is to run away and that’s not the best thing to do most of the time,” she said.

Take it from Sean. He knows first-hand.

“I think you just try to stop, although that goes against your instinct. The best thing to do is just try to be as calm as you can in that situation and not to flee because that will just engage them to follow their instincts and chase further,” he said.

For clients like Natalie Larizza, it’s training that brings peace of mind.

“You need be able to read the signs of a dog,” Larizza said. “And it’s very educational for children to learn the right way to be around dogs and handle dogs.”

So, if you encounter an aggressive dog: stay still, don’t look it in the eye, don’t scream or yell and don’t run.

What if you or your child wants to approach an animal?

First, ask permission then, stand beside it and let it smell you.

“Once I see she’s comfortable and her tail’s wagging, then I can get down and pet her,” said Hudak. “But I never want to get in her face, even though I know Teagen really well and know she’s not going to do that.”

But a run-in with a strange and vicious dog is what most of us fear. If the prevention tactics don’t work, then what?

So if you’re down and the dog has you, what do you do?

“Don’t move. Just stay there,” said Hudak. “Really easier said than done, but very unlikely the dog would even engage if you’re not running or going toward them. And again, that’s against every instinct and really hard to do, but the best thing to do.”

If your child is attacked, or if you see a victim in the grips of a dog, most experts recommend you get behind the animal, squeeze its torso with your knees and grab its collar to pull it off. Using objects to distract it can also work.

Skilled competitors like Jay the German shepherd and adorable family pets like Teagen and Zeek would likely never be in that situation, but they can still help educate, so we can stay safe.

“Good training,” said Larizza. “You can’t get enough of good training.”

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