How to avoid getting bit by a dog
What’s your first reaction when you walk past or towards a dog? Well, the thing is depending on if you are excited or scared of the dog, you have to try to read the dogs reaction before approaching the dog to know if you need to defend yourself. Not every wagging tail is a sign of friendliness.
The best way to prevent dog attacks, obviously, is for the owner to train their dogs not to do it in the first place, and to make sure their dog is in a secure yard, inside the house or on a leash. Unfortunately, some people are not responsible enough to do this, so it falls upon us to know how to protect ourselves in such situations.
Start by being polite and respecting the dog’s personal space. Never do the following:
- Approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one that tied or confines behind a fence or in a car.
- Run from a dog. Dogs have a natural instinct to chase their prey. By running, you can trigger this instinct.
- Disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or caring for puppies.
- Pet a dog- even your own without letting them see and sniff you first.
- Encourage your dog to play aggressively.
- Let small children play with a dog unsupervised.
Always be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn’t know you may see you as an intruder or a threat. Dogs do try to communicate with us and you can learn to read their body language to pick up if a dog is tense, afraid or anxious and therefore more likely to bite. Never make eye contact with a dog that is outside their comfort zone as they may decide attack is the best form of defense.
Thus, you are strongly advised to pay attention to the dog’s body language. Put a safe amount of space between yourself and a dog if you see the following signals that indicate that the dog is uncomfortable and might feel the need to bite:
- Tensed body
- A stiff tail
- An erect tail slowly wagging back and forth
- Ears flattened back
- Barring teeth
- Eyes rolled so the whites are visible
- Flicked tongue
- Intense stare
- Baring teeth
When putting space between yourself and a dog who might bite, never turn back and run away. A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase you.
What to do if you think a dog may attack:
If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:
- Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
- Remain motionless, hands at your sides and avoid eye contact with the dog
- Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until they are out of site
- If the dog attacks, “feed” them your jacket, purse/bag or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog. Let it bite that instead of you.
- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. This will make it harder for the dog to bite you in a place that will do serious harm. Try not to scream or roll around.
If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic and do the following:
- Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Contact your physician for additional care and advice.
- Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell them everything you know about the dog including their owner’s name and the address where they live. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw them, whether you’ve seen them before and which direction they
Recommendations for dog owners/parents
Although you can’t guarantee that your dog will never bite someone, there are many ways that you can significantly reduce the risk.
- Adopt from a well-managed animal shelter whose staff and volunteers can fill you in on the dog’s background, personality and behavior in the shelter.
- Spay or neuter your dog as soon as possible. Healthy puppies can be spayed or neutered as early as eight weeks of age. Spayed or neutered dogs may be less likely to bite.
- Socialize your dog! Well-socialized dogs make enjoyable, trustworthy companions. Under socialized dogs are at a risk to their owners and to others because they can become frightened by everyday things-which means they are more likely to be aggressive or bite. Socializing is the opposite of isolating. It’s important for puppies to meet, greet and enjoy a variety of people, animals, places and things. Done properly, socializing helps puppies feel comfortable and friendly in various situations, rather than uncomfortable and potentially aggressive. The main rule for effective socializing is to let your dog progress at her own pace and never force her to be around someone or something when she’s clearly fearful or uncomfortable.
- Take your dog to humane, reward-based training classes—the earlier the better. We recommend starting your puppy in the puppy kindergarten classes as early as eight weeks, right after her first set of vaccinations. Early training opens a window of communication between you and your dog that will help consistently and effectively teach her good behavior.
- Make your dog a part of the family. Don’t chain or tie her outside or leave her unsupervised for long periods of time—even in a fenced yard. Most tethered dogs become frustrated and can feel relatively defenseless, so they’re much more likely to bite.
- Don’t wait for serious accident to happen. The first time your dog shows aggressive behavior toward anybody, even if no injury occurs, seeks professional help from a Certified Applied Behaviorist, veterinary behaviorist or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer.
- Be aware of common triggers of aggression, including pain, injury or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, loud noises etc. If possible, avoid exposing your dog to these triggers.
- Always supervise children and dogs. Teach your children to treat your dog gently and with respect, giving the dog her won space and opportunities to rest.
- Fulfill basic animal-care responsibilities and provide regular veterinary care including rabies vaccinations. Don’t allow your dog to roan alone.