How to Protect Yourself From Being Bitten By a Dog

Scott A. Goodwin's Animal Law Legal Blogs

Licensed for 31 years

Attorney in Birmingham, MI

Scott A. Goodwin

Serving Birmingham, MI

Managing Partner at firm Goodwin and Scieszka

Serving Birmingham, MI

Awards AV Preeminent

You may worry about becoming the victim of a vicious dog’s attack as this is a very real fear for some people. Perhaps, you know of someone who was injured or even killed by a dog and are worried you too may become a victim. Of course, you may also be scared your children will become a victim, which is a very real fear since an estimated 400,000 children are treated each year for dog bites according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Although there is no way to prevent every dog attack, there are steps you can take to reduce your overall risk. Utilizing the tips listed below and passing them on to your children is a wise idea.

Understand a dog’s body language:

Just as we often communicate how we feel through our body language, a dog will reveal its intent with their own. Look for the following signs when approaching a dog as they signal a dog is uncomfortable and may bite:

  • The dog backs away.
  • The dog stares in an intense manner.
  • He flicks his tongue.
  • He yawns.
  • The dog’s eyes roll so the whites of the eyes are visible.
  • He furrows his brow.
  • The dog pulls back their ears or head.
  • He has a stiff tail.
  • His body is tensed.

If you ever see any of the above characteristics, you know the dog in question is uncomfortable with your presence. Make an effort to slowly back away from the dog and give him his space.

Do not run:

It is easier said than done as everyone’s natural inclination when they are scared of something is to run. However, it is a mistake to run from a dog. This triggers its hunting instinct and makes him see you as prey or something to catch. Therefore, you should never turn your back and run away. Instead, back away slowly keeping your hands at your side.

Avoid eye contact:

In the animal kingdom, eye contact often goes along with a challenge. Therefore, do not look the dog in the eyes if you feel threatened as this will only heighten the dog’s anxiety and could lead to an attack.

If you fall, protect yourself:

If you get knocked to the ground by the dog, curl your body into a ball and use your hands to cover your ears and neck. Try to remain motionless as well and resist the urge to scream. In many cases, a dog will simply go on about its business when it realizes you are not rolling around or screaming.

Try to distract the dog:

If a dog is pursuing you or acting agitated, try to distract the dog. This can be accomplished by throwing a bag or bottled water or anything you can get your hands on at the dog as a means of distraction. There is a saying to help you remember this tip. If you are attacked, distract.

Distance yourself from the dog:

If you are out walking and are approached by a menacing dog, attempt to place obstacles such as a parked vehicle between you and the dog. Use anything available to put some distance in between you and the dog.

Educate your children:

It is imperative that you teach your kids to not kiss a dog or get directly in the dog’s face. Also, ensure they understand it is never a good idea to mess with a dog when they are eating. Of course, telling your child to never approach or pet an unfamiliar dog is also a wise idea even though many biting accidents involve dogs kids know.

More information on dog bites:

Every year 4.5 million Americans are bitten by a dog. Of this number, one in five sustain a severe enough injury to merit a trip to the hospital. While kids are the most likely to become victims, mail carriers and senior citizens are also common victims.

What to do if the worst happens and you do get bitten by a dog:

If you become the victim of a dog bite, it is imperative you seek medical help if you are bleeding profusely. If you are not injured severely, simply clean your wound well with soap and warm water. Report the dog bite to your local animal control agency. Tell the animal control officer everything you can remember about the dog including its address and owner’s name. If you are unsure where the dog lives or who he belongs to, describe the dog and tell the officer where you encountered the dog and the direction he ran after the encounter.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent each and every dog attack. However, following the tips above will reduce your risk of becoming a dog bite victim.

Call the personal injury attorneys at Goodwin and Scieszka for more information at 1-888-466-3946 or visit our website.

Being bitten by dog is a very serious matter. "Man’s best friend" at the end of the day, is still an animal, and to protect yourself, you are going to need to know a few things that you should and should never do when you are around dogs – like putting your face close to their face (especially when it’s not your dog). Reading this article will help you learn how to protect yourself from dog bites.

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