AN elderly woman has been left with facial injuries after being attacked outside her home by a dog.

The victim required hospital treatment following the shocking incident, which happened outside Wimborne House retirement housing complex in Marine Parade, Dovercourt.

It is understood that the victim approached the dog to pet it after it went up to her gate, but the dog turned and launched the vicious attack on her.

Essex Police has launched an investigation to the incident, which happened on Saturday at about 12.45pm.

A spokesman for the force said: “We are investigating following an incident in Harwich where it was reported a woman had been injured by a dog.

“It was reported the woman had sustained injuries to her face and neck which required hospital treatment.

“Our enquiries are ongoing.”

Joe Nutkins, a dog trainer based in Ardleigh, explained there are unwritten rules to dog ownership.

“This is, of course, a terrible incident and you really have to feel for the poor lady,” she said.

“There is an etiquette in dog ownership that if someone is nearby you put your dog on its lead as you don’t know the situation of the other person.

“If your dog is off its lead it is worth making sure you have control of its recall, and are aware of what is going on around you.

“By doing this you are protecting your own dog too. If it attacks someone then it could be put down if the incident is bad enough, so it’s not just other people you’re looking out for.”

Mrs Nutkins explained there are three main factors which invite a dog onto you which can lead to them getting carried away - eye contact, speech and touch.

She added: “If you can cross your arms and look up to the sky it will usually slow them down and make them double think what they’re doing.

“It removes the green light. Tucking hands your hands in will stop them getting bitten and stops us flapping our arms about and making the situation worse.

“If we look away from them it makes them think we are boring, and shows we’re not trying to play or make a challenge to them.”

Sanctuary Housing, which runs Wimborne House, had not responded at the time of going to press.