Most of the time, (like 95%) when I go past a dog (when I'm just taking a walk), it starts barking and running toward me, while it doesn't do for other people. I know it might be because I have a cat, but when I was younger and without a cat, they still ran toward me.

At one occassion the dog ran so hard the owner lost her leash and I ran fastest as I ever had in my life, and it ripped off a chunk of my jeans. And the owner said "Don't worry, she is friendly".

I have petted a few dogs(actually friendly), but some dogs(like the 2 meter tall dog of neighbors that moved out)

I've tried to completely ignore them, and countless other strategies, but they still go toward me, even if there are other people who try to avoid them. Even if I don't notice the dog, it still barks.

What can I do to stop them barking and running towards me?(And why do that only to me?)

  • 2
    the answer to your question is you behave like prey = you are prey,this is how nature works it realy is the entire and full explanation of how and why this happens.for me i have the oposite "problem" cats-dogs-wildlife comes to me because i love and understand them(my neighbours cat came to me to give birth and a rowedeer gave birth to her calf in my garden). Aug 3, 2021 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


First of all: it has nothing at all to do with you having a cat or not. Dogs can live in harmony with cats and a few stray cat hairs are no reason to run and jump at a person.

There's also the saying that "dogs can smell fear". This is false, too. Dogs were selectively bred by humans for thousands of years and one trait that was amplified by that process is how well dogs can understand a humans tone of voice and body language and interpret the humans emotional state. So dogs can see, hear and probably also smell fear, but the smell plays a minor role.

What could cause this behavior?

The first thing that comes to my mind is that you might trigger the dogs hunting instinct. Small children often unknowingly do that because of their running around, high pitched voices and erratic movements. Adults can also trigger dogs by the following behaviors:

  • Running, cycling or skating away from the dog. The more you run, the more you trigger the dog to try and catch you. Most of the time the dog doesn't even want to hurt you, but anything that suddenly starts running must be chased.
  • Suddenly jerking your hands up. Dogs know that hands often hold interesting things like treats, so many of them ate interested in your hands. Suddenly jerking them up has 2 negative consequences: It can trigger the hunting instinct just like running away, and it may prompt the dog to jump at you to reach your hands.
  • Unusual movements like dancing, jumping or Tourette tics can startle the dogs or make them insecure how to handle the situation. Insecure dogs tend to growl or bark to avoid having to deal with whatever causes their anxiety.

Another possible cause is that staring a dog right in the eyes is an aggressive gesture. You can look it in the face, but then lokk at something else after a second. If you are afraid of dogs and like to have an eye on them, don't look directly onto their eyes, but at their tail or at the ground besides them.

And lastly there are also personal aversions. Some dogs have a more territorial and aggressive temperament than others and are more willing to engage in a fight, but those are the absolute minority. Some dogs may simply not like you, but it's incredibly unrealistic that every dog you meet on a walk just mgically dislikes you.

How should you react?

First of all, avoid triggering the dog by avoiding sudden movements. It can be very startling to be barked at by a large dog, but the less you show any reaction at all, the more likely the dog loses interest in you. So try not to jump, wince or run away.

If you trust yourself to face it, signal to the dog that you'll stand your ground. Turn towards the dog, stomp your foot and yell (bark) "STOP IT!" at it, while assuming a big stance (standing upright, chest puffed out, broad shoulders and ellbows). Most dogs don't actually want to attack you, they mostly want to scare you away from their territory or their owners. Barking is the first step of communication. If you reply by running away, the dog feels encouraged to continnue chasing you away. But if you reply with "I won't let myself be chased by you" the dog will have to think about its own actions and reactions to you.

Of course you're not supposed to confront the dog and win a fight or anything. Just tell it that you won't react to the barking and then continnue piecefully on your way. You can see a professional dog trainer explain the technique in this video from 0:34 - 1:40.

If the dog won't stop charging at you, make yourself as uninteresting as possible by becomming stiff as a tree. This is especially useful if you triggered the hunting instinct of the dog and now it thinks you'll play with it or run away. Plant your feet steady on the ground, either cross your arms or hold them very tight against your legs and stop moving. Be as unmovable as a tree trunk. Don't react to the barking or jumping or running araund. If the dog just wanted to chase you away, it will soon lose interest because you don't react to any of its approaches. You can see the same trainer explain this method in the same video as above from 2:51 - 3:48.

If the dog comes running with the tail pointing straight forward along the back and teeth showing, it's about to really bite you. Please keep in mind that this scenario is extremely unlikely in an urban environment and when you haven't provoked the dog first. But if it ever comes to that, you should get yourself into a safe position by entering a building or climbing onto the roof of a car.

How to gauge a dogs behavior?

Here are 2 examples to show the difference between a dog that "only" barks but isn't after your throat and one that's intending to cause you harm:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Both dogs are barking.

In the first image the teeth of the upper jaw are covered by the lips and the ears stand upright. This dog wants to scare you away, but unless you actively provoke it, the chances of this dog physically attacking you are low. You could try one of the methods mentioned above.

In the second image the upper teeth are fully exposed and the ears are held back flat against the skull. This dog is in full attack mode and might injure you. Get into safety as quickly as possible.

  • This strategy works with "Smarter" breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, and others, but not with other dogs(They bark like in picture 1), even If I try to fully ignore them, should I just stick with the other dogs barking?
    – Leo
    Aug 9, 2021 at 17:08
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    All dogs of all breeds are "smart" enough to understand your body language. If you're not too bothered by their barking, you can simply ignore them. Or if their owners have the leash securely in hand, you can turn towards them and make yourself bigger by standing very upright, puffing out your chest and slightly spreading your ellbows. See how they react to that gesture.
    – Elmy
    Aug 9, 2021 at 17:17
  • But for me that is mean to the owners, and I don't want to make the owners angry.
    – Leo
    Aug 9, 2021 at 17:20
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    @Leo Honestly, if the owners cannot stop their dogs from barking and running at strangers, they have no right to be angry at you. You don't have to interact with the owners at all. Just face the dog for 1 or 2 seconds. Either the owners will continnue walking or if it doesn't work, you can just turn around and walk away.
    – Elmy
    Aug 9, 2021 at 17:33

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