It doesn’t matter how big a fan you are of the breed; a man’s best friend isn’t always friendly. Most dogs are sweet and loving creatures that serve and protect humanity in numerous ways, but they are still animals. Because animals can’t tell you if something is wrong, even dogs that you know and love could be unpredictable if they are injured, sick, overstimulated, or frightened.
Here are some things to consider when approaching someone else’s animal and what to do if they bite you.
How To Tell If A Dog Is Feeling Aggressive
Dogs aren’t capable of subtlety. If they feel aggressive and intend to bite, they’ll give you physical clues to their intentions.
- Their stare is intense, watching you for indications you’ll attack or looking for an opening to run or fight.
- Their tail is stiff with anger or tucked with fear instead of high and wagging.
- They pull their lips back to expose their teeth in warning.
- The hair on their neck and back stands on end (hackles raised.).
- They back away when you approach.
- Their brow lowers, and their tongue flicks in and out.
- Their eyes are wide enough to see the whites around the iris.
In general, it’s a good idea to let the dog approach you first rather than heighten the emotions of an already on-edge dog.
Other Safety Tips
Circumstances can change even if they are calm or sleeping when you first observe them. They may still react to protect themselves if they are startled, cornered, or threatened. Some basic precautions include:
- Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: If your dog is lying in bed with you, they know you’re there and aren’t likely to react when you roll over. If you come in from another room and startle them, they may react instinctively to protect themselves by snapping at whatever touched them.
- Never Leave Children Unattended: Some dogs are perfect nannies, showing incredible tolerance for little humans they claim as their own. If you visit someone else’s dog or get a new dog that isn’t the nanny type, however, they may react defensively to normal child behaviors (ear or fur pulling, sticking their face right in the dog’s face, or trying to carry a pet that is too big for them).
- Timing Is Everything: Dogs are more likely to get aggressive while eating, when pregnant or caring for pups, or if they feel their master needs protection. (You can train dogs out of behaviors like being aggressive with their food, but don’t assume a strange dog has had the same training.)
When Facing An Aggressive Dog
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you face an aggressive dog. Reasons for such behavior may have multiple causes.
Every dog has their personality. Some are gentle, and others are aggressive. Some had a loving home, while others were abused and rescued. Dogs in packs will act differently than if you interact with them one at a time.
You might never know why they react violently. Taking the following steps will provide the best possible outcome:
- Stay calm and still.
- Turn sideways and avoid a staring contest. Staring eye to eye could make them attack while turning sideways says you aren’t interested in a fight.
- Move slowly to avoid startling them into attacking you.
- Back away, keeping the dog in sight at all times.
- Slowly get something between you, like a jacket, bookbag, or purse. If the dog attacks, let it bite that instead of you.
- If the dog does attack you, go into the fetal position. Your knees protect your stomach as you use your arms to protect your face, ears, and neck.
After a Biting Incident
If the dog does bite you or a loved one, you can take the following steps to get your medical bills covered and prevent the dog from biting someone else in the future.
Document The Attack
- Get the names of the owner and the person responsible for the dog at the time of the biting (nanny, dogwalker, housesitter, or friend).
- If the dog doesn’t have an owner nearby, call animal control. They can get the animal off the street and may be able to track the owner down using collar information or a microchip.
- Get the name and description of the dog and ask for vaccination records.
- Write down what happened in as much detail as possible so you don’t have to remember the details later.
- Take photos of all injuries, the scene of the biting, and the dog, if possible.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Take steps to stop any bleeding, but it is still advisable to see a doctor immediately. The bacteria in a dog’s mouth can cause serious infections. You may also need rabies shots if you don’t have the dog’s immunization records. The doctor will flush and sterilize the wound, close it if the injury needs stitches, and give you medication to prevent infection.
Report The Bite
Report all dog bites to document your case and make sure that the bite goes on the dog’s record. You should report the bite to a public health or animal control official. If the dog shows an unusual pattern of aggression, it poses a threat to everyone around them. Reporting them could save someone else from a severe bite. It may even save a life.
Contact Your Personal Injury Attorney
Animal bite cases are complex. The other party could claim you were harassing the dog or that the biting didn’t happen as you said it did. They may lie to protect their dog, to avoid cost increases on their insurance policy, or because they don’t have insurance to pay their medical bills.
Regardless of their reason, if the dog owner did not maintain control of their dog, they are responsible for damages, including your medical bills.
A dog bite attorney will understand the laws applicable to your state and how they apply to your case.
To Wrap Up
While the number of dog bites is small compared to the number of pet dogs in the nation, dog bites do happen. This article helps you avoid any unpleasantness with your neighbors’ pets. However, should you have any additional questions or need a Salt Lake City lawyer for dog bites, reach out to us here.