People get bitten by dogs more often than you might think. And it’s not just the large dog breeds that do the biting, either. Small dogs do more than their fair share of the chomping.
It pays to know why dogs bite people in the first place. Most dogs bite because they are frightened or have been taken by surprise. They might also bite because they believe they’re in danger, want to protect something important to them, like their puppies or food, or are not feeling well.
According to one source, 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten yearly without provocation — and half of them are kids. You might be surprised to learn that many people are hospitalized yearly because of the damage caused by dog bites. If you like to jog, go on long walks, or spend time outdoors with family and friends, you’ll want to do so without negative dog encounters.
Consider these five tips to avoid dog bites and enjoy your time in the great outdoors.
- Ask Before Petting
Do you like to pet dogs you see when you’re outside? If so, ask the owners before you reach out your hand to pet them. Some dogs are very friendly and love nothing more than being petted. But some are more reserved and will feel threatened if someone they’re unfamiliar with tries to pet them. Don’t assume it’s okay just because, for instance, the dog is a small one. Dogs of all sizes are capable of biting people. If they have teeth, they can bite. So, be careful.
- Don’t Run Toward Dog
Be mindful of how you approach dogs. Running up to them isn’t the best way to introduce yourself. While you or your kids might have good intentions when running toward dogs, the dogs might interpret the situation differently. Approach dogs in a way that won’t cause them to feel threatened. Stop and slowly walk away if you see their body language change negatively.
- Let the Dog Smell Your Hand
If the dog owner gives you the go-ahead to pet their dog, let the dog first smell the back of your hand. Does the dog provide positive feedback? If so, you can pet it. Restrict your petting to the dog’s back or chest, but avoid its head, muzzle, tail, or rump.
- Avert Your Gaze if You Detect Hostility
Many issues can be averted if you learn to read a dog’s body language. Dogs typically give telltale signs if they’re uncomfortable, frightened, or otherwise unwilling to engage. It’s best to avoid staring right into the eyes of dogs you aren’t familiar with. These dogs might feel offended if you stare directly into their eyes and may act out aggressively.
- Act Like a Tree
Do you know what it means to “act like a tree”? It refers to standing quietly with your arms folded inwards and your eyes looking away from a dog that is acting aggressively. Dogs aren’t excited by trees. So, if you act like a tree, an aggressive or overly excited dog will quickly lose interest and go elsewhere. It’s a tactic that you should teach your children.
Dog bites are no laughing matter. Following these tips can help you avoid getting bitten by a dog. But you need to know what to do if you get bitten despite your best efforts to prevent a human-canine dust-up.
First, you should talk to the dog owner and get contact details, report the dog bite to animal control, and see a doctor to verify the injury. You must also find an experienced personal injury lawyer when a dog owner’s negligence leads to injury.
The worst thing you can do is sweep the incident under the rug and act as though nothing occurred.