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How to Prevent Dog Bites

Man holding back aggressive barking dog

Dogs can be wonderful companions and bring joy to their owners and those around them. Unfortunately, dogs are also animals and can exhibit dangerous behaviors when they feel anxious, scared, or protective. As such, being careful around dogs and mindful of their body language is the best way to prevent dog bites.

Aggressive Dogs

You should avoid interacting with aggressive dogs whenever possible. If a dog is standing stiff and straight-legged, baring its teeth, growling, or barking, these are all signs to stay away. You should also avoid dogs with their fur on end and/or dogs that are moving or lunging toward you. Do not run. Instead, slowly back away from the aggressive animal. If the dog is off-leash or otherwise unsupervised, contact animal control for assistance.

Anxious or Scared Dogs

Dogs act unpredictably when they are anxious and scared. Do not interact with a dog that has its ears back or its tail between its legs. If a dog is crouched cowering or avoiding eye contact, keep your distance. Also, be mindful of defensive growling and snarling.

Other Situations

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) dogs are more likely to bite if they are startled, frightened, or caring for puppies. Never approach a dog while it is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or bone, or caring for its young.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also asserts that children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog and far more likely to be severely injured.

Keep the following in mind and lead by example:

  • Always ask permission before petting someone else’s dog
  • Let the dog approach you and remain still so it can sniff you
  • Make sure a dog has seen you and smelled you before reaching out to pet it
  • Avoid the top of the dog’s head and pet their shoulders or chest instead
  • Stop petting a dog if it seems scared, sick, or angry
  • Avoid aggressive play or roughhousing with a dog
  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog
  • Do not try to pet a dog that is behind a fence or in a car
  • Do not pet a dog that is hiding
  • Call animal control if you see a dog running loose
  • Supervise your child any time they play with a dog

If a strange dog approaches you or your child, stay still and silent, and avoid eye contact. Do not panic, make loud noises, or run. In most cases, the animal will lose interest. If a dog knocks you over, however, curl into a ball with your head tucked and your fists over your ears and neck. Try to put a purse or jacket between yourself and the dog or “feed” them your empty sleeve as a distraction.

What To Do After a Dog Attack

Dog attacks and even one-off dog bites are serious situations. If you’ve been bitten, seek medical attention immediately and watch for signs of infection. Gather any information you can about the dog and its owner.

To account for medical expenses and other damages, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit. This will not harm the dog in question and many times, homeowner’s insurance will protect the dog’s owner.

In any case, you have a right to pursue compensation.

Contact the Law Offices of Charles R. Gueli for the legal help you need. Simply call us 24/7 at (516) 628-6402 or reach out online to schedule your free consultation.

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