I posted this on my Facebook page Friday evening after returning from a walk/run:

How many people would have known what to do in this situation that I was just in??

You are running (ok, let’s tell the truth….jogging slowly) down the street and a pit bull dog gets loose from its owner’s grip and runs towards you. What do you do?

The responses varied from “Stop!” to “start carrying a bat” to ” I would go home and change my pants. LOL”

My response was a bit different.

From the time I was about 3 years old, I have had a dog or dogs, specifically pit bull dogs, in my house.  I am very familiar with their behaviors, as well as their temperaments, and how to judge what they are thinking based on their body language.

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Despite Gwinnett County’s leash law, I have been met by many loose dogs on the street since I began walking and running.  I can honestly tell you that the dogs who were NOT pit bulls scared me far more than the ones that were.  I believe in all situations that the enemy that is known is far better than the enemy that is unknown.  It is easier to confront an issue or a being if you know what you are up against.

Friday night as I was running along, I noticed a teenager letting his dog out of the front door without a leash.  As soon as he noticed me jogging down the street, he grabbed the dog’s collar and began trying to get the dog back inside.  I continued to jog along while playing on my phone.  Just as I passed the house where the dog and the teenager were, I heard the teen start shouting for the dog to come back and I heard the dog bounding in my direction.

I had already assessed the situation and knew a couple of things.  1) The dog was not more than 50 lbs- if you know anything about pit bulls, you would know that this means this is a smaller member of the breed and 2) the dog never growled, showed his teeth, or barked at me.  Based on my initial assessment, I felt relatively safe. I did, however, implement my “loose dog strategy.”

I immediately slowed down to a walk and continued to focus on my phone, paying no attention to the dog who had begun circling my feet.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that the dog’s tail had been clipped, which is common with the breed, and his hind quarters were wagging as much as any tail would have been.  This dog just wanted to play.

At that point, I heard the teen struggling to catch up with us, all the while hollering “he is friendly, he won’t bite you!”  Having assessed that the situation was not threatening, I stopped walking and spoke to the dog.  Immediately, he stopped and turned to me, circling my feet and using his eyes to beg for my attention.  I offered my open hand, palm up, for him to sniff and then I petted him.  I waited for his owner to catch up and take control of the dog before I walked away.  The teen was visibly and audibly relieved, saying, “Thank you so much!!”

I am not sure exactly why he was thanking me….

Loose dogs are a hazard when you are walking and running outdoors.  However, being aware of your surroundings and knowing the warning signs of aggressiveness and how to read a dog’s body language can save your life!

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