Knowing how to be safe around dogs is always important. The unusually warm temperatures this week are a certain reminder that spring is here. This means children will soon be out of school and exploring outdoor activities. Some of those children will encounter dogs they are not familiar with. Personal injury attorneys that handle dog bite cases are very aware of what can happen when children encounter strange dogs or decide to be friendly with a dog at the wrong time.
The majority of dog bite victims are children under the age of 10 and adults over the age of 60. Here are some tips and reminders to help you remind your loved ones how to be safe around dogs.
- Immediately let someone know and report stray dogs or dogs that are behaving strangely.
- Never go near a dog (or other animal) that is salivating excessively and snarling.
- Never approach a dog you do not know.
- Never approach a dog you do not know while looking him/her in the eye.
- Never run from a dog.
- When approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain motionless (become a statue).
- Don’t panic or make loud noises.
- If a dog knocks you over, curl into a ball, with your head tucked and your hands over your ears.
- Never disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Don’t try to pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- Never let small children play with a dog unsupervised.
- Do not encourage your dog to play aggressively.
- Never approach a chained dog.
- Never approach a dog that is in a car.
- Don’t bend over a dog.
- Don’t reach over a dog’s head.
Dogs Display Aggression to Protect Themselves
Aggressive behaviors from dogs are attempts to protect themselves from a perceived threat (often, you). If you see these behaviors in a dog, back away. The following are common aggressive behaviors from dogs:
- Ears back
- Tail tucked
- Nervous snarling
- Tooth displays of varying degrees
- “Muzzle punch” (striking with a closed mouth)
- Snapping (without contact)
- Biting without injury
- Biting with varying degrees of injury
What to do if a Dog You Don’t Know Approaches You and You Don’t Want Interaction with the Dog
- Stop moving. Stand still and be calm.
- Don’t panic or make loud noises.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the dog.
- Say “No” or “Go Home” in a firm, deep voice.
- Stand with the side of your body toward the dog. Facing a dog directly can seem aggressive to the dog.
- Slowly raise your hands to your neck, with your elbows in.
- Wait for the dog to pass or slowly back away.
How to Meet and Pet a Dog
- If a dog doesn’t look friendly, leave him alone.
- Ask permission of the dog’s primary human.
- Let the dog come to you and sniff you. Scent is the primary way dogs understand the world around them. If the dog is interested, extend you closed fist slowly and let the dog sniff it.
- Then open your hand slowly, palm up and move toward the dog from the side.
- Pet the dog gently on the chest or under the chin. If the dog likes it, he will let you know.
- Do not pat the dog on the top of the head. This can be perceived as a threat and makes the dog feel subservient.
- Do not pet a dog’s rear end. This will be perceived as a threat.
- Other places to pet a dog are his back and sides.
- Don’t slap a dog on the back.
- If the dog stiffens, growls, or shows signs of discomfort, stop petting her.
- Always leave the dog a clear escape path.
- Never back a dog into a corner.
If you or a loved one should be bitten by a dog or other animal, call Altizer Law, P.C., and put our experience with dog bite cases on your side.