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Can dog bites be prevented?

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Personal Injury

You’re strolling through your neighborhood, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a dog lunges towards you, teeth bared. The next thing you know, you’re nursing a painful bite on your hand. Dog bites can happen when we least expect them, but the good news is many of them can be prevented.

Every year, millions of people suffer from dog bites, resulting in injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe infections and even permanent disfigurement. But by understanding some fundamental principles of canine behavior and learning to interact safely with unfamiliar dogs, you can significantly reduce your risk of being bitten.

Here’s what you should know about preventing dog bites and staying safe around man’s best friend.

Understanding canine behavior

One of the biggest mistakes people make when encountering a strange dog is to reach out and try to pet it immediately. Dogs are territorial animals and may perceive this as a threat, especially if they feel cornered or startled. Instead, it’s essential to follow a few important tips:

  • Don’t stick your hand out: Resist the urge to extend your hand towards a dog you don’t know. Instead, keep your hands relaxed and by your side to avoid triggering defensive reactions.
  • Don’t invade the dog’s space: Approaching a dog too quickly or invading its personal space can be intimidating and may provoke a defensive response. Instead, step back and allow the dog to approach you at its own pace.
  • Allow the dog to come to you: If a dog seems curious or friendly, let it come to you first before attempting to interact. This allows the dog to gauge your intentions and reduces the likelihood of a negative reaction.
  • Pet where the dog can see you: It’s tempting to give a dog’s head a little pat when greeting them. However, this can make the dog nervous. When you pet a new dog, aim for their shoulder so they can see what you are doing.

Reading a dog’s body language can also help you assess whether it’s safe to approach. Signs of aggression or discomfort include raised hackles, bared teeth, growling and stiff body posture. If you encounter a dog exhibiting these signs, it’s best to slowly back away and avoid further interaction.

Seeking medical attention

Despite our best efforts, accidents can still happen, and if you find yourself on the receiving end of a dog bite, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial. Even seemingly minor bites can lead to infections or other complications if left untreated, so don’t hesitate to contact a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment.

While we can’t completely eliminate the risk of dog bites, we can take proactive steps to minimize the chances of an encounter turning violent. By respecting a dog’s space, understanding its body language and knowing how to interact with unfamiliar animals safely, we can help create a safer environment for humans and our four-legged friends.