It’s estimated that there are several million dog bites every year, with nearly a million of those requiring medical treatment. Taking proper precautions and avoiding dog bites is crucial. If you are unsure how to protect yourself from becoming a dog bite victim, here are some helpful tips.
Familiarize Yourself with a Dog’s Body Language
You should always watch a dog’s body language, which can help you avoid an attack. Dogs give signs when they are feeling threatened, scared, or anxious. Here are some body language signs to watch for:
- Aggressive dogs may try to make themselves look more prominent. Look for raised fur, ears up and forward, and a stiff, straight-legged stance. Aggressive dogs may growl, bare their teeth, bark, or lunge at you.
- Scared or anxious dogs may try to appear smaller and crouch down, lower their head, flatten their ears, and put their tail between their legs. If a dog thinks you are an approaching threat, they may snarl, defensively growl, or even bite.
You may encounter a dog that mixes these postures, which could mean they are confused or conflicted. You should not approach any dog that shows any signs of anxiety, fear, or aggression. A wagging tail isn’t always a sign that a dog is friendly and wants to play. Be especially cautious around sick or older dogs. They can be more irritable than younger dogs.
Approach All Dogs Carefully
You should always approach a dog with caution, even one that you know. If you are passing a dog owner and have the urge to pet their dog, always ask permission. Some dogs are territorial of their owners and could lash out if they feel threatened. This step is also vital if you are a dog owner walking your dog. Be cautious when approaching another dog and its owner on the street. Sometimes, it’s better to cross the street and not engage at all.
Be prepared for situations where you may not realize there is a dog. For example, if you are knocking on someone’s door, take a few steps back after knocking. This step allows for some space if the homeowner has a dog and opens the door.
Know What to Do if You Suspect a Dog May Bite
If you get approached by an unfamiliar dog, it’s best to always remain calm and still. You want to be like a tree. If you feel threatened, you might be able to say “go home” or “no” in a stern voice. Avoid sudden or loud noises. Avoid direct eye contact with a dog as some dogs may view that as a gesture of wanting to fight.
Distract the dog with something else if you are able. If you are a dog owner, carry a dog biscuit in your pocket. If you don’t have one, look for a stick or something that you can throw for the dog to go after—anything that can make space between you and the dog, allowing you to leave safely.
Sometimes, none of these things will work, and a dog will go after you. You can try to fight back and protect yourself, but it may not always work. Try to command the dog in a stern voice to go away if possible. If a dog does try to bite you and you are down on the ground, roll yourself into a ball to protect your head. You still want to avoid screaming or making other loud noises that may anger the dog further.
Dog Bite Prevention Tips for Children
Even easy going dogs can bite unprovoked, which is why it’s essential to pay close attention to your children around dogs. Here are some helpful tips for avoiding dog bites if you have children.
- Do not let your children approach, touch, or play with a dog that is eating, caring for their puppies, sleeping, or chewing on a toy as they are more likely to bite when startled or frightened.
- Your children should not pet an unfamiliar dog without asking permission from the owner or caretaker first.
- If a dog owner gives permission, your child should present a closed hand to the dog to smell and then pet the dog’s chest or shoulders, not the top of the head;
- Don’t let your child approach a dog that is scared or barking.
- Never pet a dog that is behind a fence or in a car as they can be very protective in these circumstances.
- Do not let your child approach a dog that is off its leash.
- Do not try to run away or scream if a dog is coming near.
Children must learn the proper way to protect themselves in the event they encounter a loose dog. A child should avoid eye contact and stand very still. The dog may lose interest, allowing your child to slowly back away. If they are knocked to the ground by a dog, they should curl up in a ball with their knees tucked into the stomach. Be sure to interlock fingers behind the neck to protect the ears and neck. In many cases, a dog will sniff and turn away.
Children are common dog bite victims, and the attacks typically occur with a dog they know. Children are more likely to suffer severe injuries as well. Remember that any dog is capable of biting. A dog’s breed is not necessarily indicative of whether it will bite. Instead, a dog’s behavior and individual history play important roles in determining whether a dog will bite.
Contact a Dog Attack Lawyer
If you or your child are a dog bite victim, you could have the legal right to bring a claim for your damages. Even seemingly minor bites could turn into more serious injury cases if the wound becomes infected or leaves noticeable scarring. Don’t attempt to pursue a personal injury claim on your own; otherwise, you may not collect the total value of your claim. You need a legal advocate who understands dog bite claims and knows how to maximize your case value.
At Henderson Law, we have over 20 years of personal injury experience. We’ve successfully handled many dog bite cases, and we know how to evaluate your case value accurately. To learn more, contact our attorney at Henderson Law today to schedule an initial consultation.