Dogs may look cute and cuddly but it’s important to remember, first and foremost, that they are animals with instincts. No matter how friendly a dog may seem, you never know when one is going to attack—especially if it’s a stranger’s dog. Dog bites can be an emotionally and physically traumatizing experience, and on top of that, it can lead to infection and prolonged medical care. You may even need to take out a personal injury lawsuit.
Many people take advantage of warm summer days to take dogs on long walks and let them explore new neighborhoods. Here are some tips to avoid dog bites so you don’t end up with an easily preventable injury.
Approach All Dogs Correctly
Never approach a dog from behind, or too quickly. You don’t want it to feel threatened and go into defense mode. Always let dogs sniff and see you before petting, even in the case of your own dogs. Don’t disrupt a dog’s personal space, either; wait to pet it when it’s done sleeping, eating, chewing, or caring for puppies.
Also, avoid approaching dogs you don’t know. This goes particularly for dogs that are chained up without an owner around; you never know their temperament, so you should always assume they will think you are a threat and are always at the ready to attack.
Watch For Dog Body Language
Some dog body language makes it clear that they are about to attack. Do not continue pursuing a dog if you notice it doing one of the following:
- Body tenses
- Tail stiffens
- Pulls back head and/or ears
- Brow is furrowed
- Whites of eyes are visible
- Flicks tongue
- Stares intensely
- Backs away
Of course, do not immediately turn your back and run away either, if you notice one or more of these actions from a dog. This puts you in a vulnerable position because the dog may instinctively start to chase you. Avoid dog bites by staying still until the dog in question is gone or you feel safe slowly moving away.
In Case of Attack
If you can tell that a dog is about to attack, do not run away. Stay still and put your arms at your side. Do not make eye contact with the dog, and slowly back away once it loses interest. In case it does attack, first try putting something between you and the dog as a distraction, such as your jacket or purse. Do not move at all if possible. You may fall to the ground; if that is the case, curl up into the fetal position, cover your ears with your hands, and remain as quiet and still as possible.
If You’re Bitten
No matter how carefully you try and avoid dog bites it could still happen. If a dog has bitten you, wash the wound immediately to prevent it from infection. Contact your physician as soon as possible for additional instructions. Once you’ve take care of yourself, contact your local animal control agency to report the dog and owner information.