When an aggressive dog makes a move toward you, your instincts tell you to run. You may yell, turn and try to flee. That’s flight or fight for you; your mind has evolved to help you either fight an imminent threat or flee from it.

Unfortunately, in the case of dog attacks, this instinct is wrong. You should never run. This just engages the dog’s prey/predator drive, and it will give chase. It wants to give chase. You can make it even more aggressive than it was before simply by trying to escape.

You also don’t want to yell or make sudden movements. This just makes you look aggressive to the dog, escalating the situation. Your goal should be to stay still and present a calm, unappealing target for the dog. This is how to actually get it to back off.

There’s a third reason that you shouldn’t run: It won’t work. Your instincts tell you to flee, but that doesn’t help with a potential predator that is far faster than you and that is running in a wide-open space. If you could escape, maybe you’d want to risk riling the dog up and running away, hoping it didn’t catch you. But the truth is that the dog is definitely faster, it will catch you if it wants to and running just brings on the negative ramifications noted above.

Hopefully, understanding how this works will help you avoid a serious injury. If not, though, don’t blame yourself. Just start looking into your legal options to seek compensation from the dog’s owner.