Preventing Dog Bites: How to Navigate an Aggressive Dog

In our day-to-day lives, interactions with dogs are almost inevitable. With over 62 million dogs in the country and 1.4 million as pets, dogs are widely cherished as loyal companions. However, certain situations may lead a dog to aggressive behaviors, including biting. Here at LifeLaw Personal Injury, we have seen the physical and emotional scars that a dog bite can leave on someone. It is crucial that you adopt proactive measures when you interact with a dog to help minimize the risk of dog bites. Our team of dog bite lawyers want to share comprehensive strategies for preventing dog bites, fostering safer interactions between humans and dogs.

Understanding a Dog’s Behavior

In order to prevent a dog bite we need to first understand a dog’s behavior. Dogs communicate through body language. To understand how a dog is feeling, trying and recognizing any signs of distress, fear, or aggression can be pivotal in avoiding a bite. Some key signs that a dog is feeling threatened can include raised hackles (hair on the dogs back), baring their teeth, stiff posture, excessive growling, and avoiding eye contact with you. If you observe any of these signs, make sure that you give the dog adequate space and avoid making sudden movements as this can help you avoid being bitten.

Responsible Dog Ownership

Preventing dog bites goes beyond knowing what to do if you see an aggressive dog. If you own a dog it is also necessary that you understand how to be a responsible owner as it can help prevent your dog from biting anyone. You can be a responsible owner by doing the following:

  • Training and Socialization: Proper training and socialization from a young age can significantly reduce a dog’s tendency to bite. Try and expose your dog to a variety of different creatures in a safe and nurturing environment. Introducing your dog slowly to new people, animals, and environments in a controlled manner will greatly enhance their social skills, and can make a big impact in your dog’s behavior around others.
  • Health and Wellness: Regular veterinary care helps to ensure that a dog is healthy and up to date on vaccinations. These vaccinations can influence your dog’s behavior, if your dog is in pain or suffering from an illness it can make your dog more irritable which can lead to the possibility of biting.
  • Spaying/ Neutering: A spayed or a neutered dog is generally less aggressive and can be less likely to bite. If you notice that your dog is showing signs of aggression, consider getting them spayed or neutered as it can help with this.
  • Supervision: You should never leave children unattended with a dog. Supervision is key in preventing a bite, as children may not know how to act around a dog and may unintentionally provoke a dog by pulling their tails or their ears.

Safe Interaction with Dogs

When you interact with dogs, especially an unfamiliar one, taking certain precautions can greatly influence the likelihood of a negative outcome. 

  • Ask the Owner for Permission: If you are wanting to pet a new dog, you should make sure that you ask the dog’s owner for permission before you pet their dog. The owner knows their dog best, and understands how their dog interacts with new people and can advise against petting them if they struggle with strangers.
  • Approach Calmly: When you are approaching a new dog let them sniff and see you first. A common misconception when meeting a new dog is to put your hand near a dog’s face to let them sniff you, but this can make a dog uneasy and frighten them. Instead let the dog come to you naturally to sniff you. Make sure that you do not approach a dog from behind or put your face close to a dog’s face, as a dog may see this as a sign of aggression.
  • Avoid Risky Situations: As a rule of thumb do not interrupt a dog while they are eating, sleeping, or caring for any of their puppies. A dog is much more likely to attack if they feel like their resources are being threatened.
  • Educate Children: A crucial step in your child’s safety is to teach them how to safely interact with a dog. Try to inform them about the dangers of approaching a stray dog as they can be dangerous. Be sure to teach them how to introduce themselves to a new dog in a safe environment, as well as what to do if a dog is approaching them in an aggressive way (remain calm, avoid eye contact, and slowly back away).

What to Do If You Are Threatened by a Dog

If you find yourself in a situation where a dog appears to be threatening you remember to:

  1. Remain Calm: If there is a dog in front of you that is showing signs of aggression, remember to remain calm. Being calm is essential in this scenario. Do not run or scream, as this can trigger the dog’s chase instinct and may lead to you getting chased and bitten.
  2. Stand Still: If a dog is approaching you stay calm and stay still. Stand with your hands at your sides and try to avoid eye contact, this can discourage the dog from pursuing you further.
  3. Protect Yourself: If the dog does attack, try your best to put something in between you and the dog, this can be a backpack, purse, or even a jacket. Use anything that you can to try and put distance between you and the dog, and to lessen any blows.

What to do After Being Bitten by a Dog

If all of these steps do fall through, the next step you take after a dog bite is crucial to your health.

  1. Seek Medical Treatment Immediately: A dog bite is something that needs to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. You have no way of knowing if the dog that bit you carried any diseases, going to a doctor can reveal if you have been infected with Tetanus or Rabies. Catching these early is the key to treating them, a doctor will also be able to sterilize your wound and greatly reduce the risk of infection.
  2. File a Report With Proper Authorities: If the dog that bit you is owned by someone, call the police immediately. This will ensure that a police report is created and this incident has been cited. If the dog that bit you was a stray make sure you call animal control, they have a registry of dogs who have bitten someone, and this will keep your community safe.
  3. Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer: Contacting a dog bite injury lawyer can help protect your rights and will help you seek the compensation that you deserve from this incident. A dog bite injury claim can be complex quickly, and a skilled attorney will be able to navigate this incident effectively making sure your rights are protected.

A dog bite can be incredibly traumatizing and it can deeply change your life, from the injury that you suffered, to the mental trauma that you may experience. This is why it is important you work hard to prevent a dog bite from happening. Prevention involves a combination of understanding a dog’s behavior, practicing responsible ownership, as well as engaging in safe interactions with dogs. By following the strategies we outline above, we can work together to create a safer community for both humans and dogs. If you or someone you know was bitten by a dog, it is crucial that you reach out to the dog bite lawyers at LifeLaw Personal Injury. Let our firm of experts support you throughout this process. Our team of the best dog bite lawyers have a deep understanding of dog bite claims, and will work effortlessly to support you while we get you the compensation that you deserve for your injuries and trauma. If you have been injured, contact LifeLaw Personal Injury today for a free consultation, and to discuss your options.