After years of helping victims of dog bites, we’ve learned that being proactive and cautious around dogs is the best way to prevent being victimized. However, dogs are still animals, and even the most well-behaved dogs will bite in certain situations and even the most cautious humans can end up with a dog bite injury. With over 4.5 million dog bites reported every year, it’s important to look at how to prevent a dog bite and what to do if you become in a dangerous situation with a dog.
To Prevent Dog Bites
Always ask permission before petting a dog you don’t know. The owner will know if the overall temperament of the dog will allow for this, as well as knowing if the dog is particularly agitated or stressed at the current moment. Trust the owner’s answer and don’t pet the dog if told not to.
After you have permission, let the dog smell your hand. Place the back of your hand or your fist out for the dog to sniff. If they are wanting to be pet, they will move towards you. If not, they will look away or move away from you.
Avoid touching an unknown dog who is eating, chewing, barking, growling or sleeping.
Remember the size of the dog isn’t as important as their behavior – a large dog can be friendly and a small dog can be aggressive. Treat all unknown dogs as aggressive until you learn otherwise.
Helping Your Dog Not Bite
Have your dog spayed or neutered as this helps them be less likely to become aggressive and/or bite.
Bring your dog to obedience classes to learn basic commands and create a structure for them to understand their role in your family.
Socialize your dog by exposing him or her to situations with other dogs and different people. Walking your dog on a secure leash in public places is a great, safe way to start.
Supervise your dog at all times. Be proactive with safety, such as ensuring there are not escapable holes in the fence, proper locks on gates, and good communication with visitors to the property who may come in contact with your dog. Post “Beware of Dog” signs as appropriate.
Learn any “triggers” your dog has and seek the help of professional dog trainers for support when needed. Here’s what the ASPCA says:
“Err on the safe side. Be aware of common triggers of aggression, including pain, injury or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, the approach of people in uniforms, costumes or unusual attire (especially hats), unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, and loud noises like thunder, wind, construction, fireworks and appliances.”
Signs of an Aggressive Dog
It is in a dog’s nature to charge a door, fence or other area they feel they are protecting. An aggressive dog, however, exhibits additional behaviors and signs to signify they are ready to defend themselves, their human(s), their babies, or their space.
When a dog wants you to back off – for whatever reason, they will perk their ears up and the fur along their spine or butt may stand up. Think “stiff” – stiff legs, stiff tail as signs to back up and away from the dog. Baring their teeth and growling are also clear signs of aggression.
If You Get in a Dangerous Situation with a Dog
When in a scary situation with a dog, remain calm. Stay still to see if the dog retreats once they realize you are not a threat.
Ignore the dog, watching him or her out of the corner of your eye rather than making eye contact, which is a sign of aggression.
Back away slowly and leave the situation if possible.
Never try to outrun a dog. If you are knocked down or fall down, curl up into a ball and cover your neck and ears with your hands.
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. With over 20 years of experience, Simon Law would like to earn your trust as a local personal injury lawyer here to support you in getting the money you need to take care of yourself (and/or loved ones). Contact us to discuss your case including what you may expect for your personal injury settlement at 480-745-2450. Get your free consultation, and remember, Experience Matters!