According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 4.7 million people suffer a dog bite injury each year and nearly 800,000 of those bites are serious enough to require medical attention. That number is probably lower than reality, as not all dog bites are reported.
There are a few simple precautions that can help prevent these sorts of injuries and keep you out of the emergency room. Below is a list of seven things you can do to help prevent dog bites, either as a dog owner or while interacting with a strange dog:
Seven Things To Do
- Move Slowly. Never approach an animal hurriedly. The animal perceives quick movements as threats. Threatened animals will bite to defend themselves.
- Ask the Owner. Be courteous and ask a dog's owner before you pet. Dogs have learned to read their owners feelings and a surprised owner creates a surprised pet. Surprised pets bite.
- Hand Out, Fist Closed. Whenever approaching a dog, or any household pet, approach the animal with your hand out and fist closed. This allows the animals to sniff your hand and gain a sense of comfortability as well as decide if it is willing to let you to pet it.
- Socialize Early. Socialize your dog at a young age by exposing it to as many different situations and people as possible. The more exposure that it has, the less likely it will be to react negatively in the future.
- Train Your Dog. Take your dog to a trainer, even a single visit could have a positive impact on how you and your dog relate to each other. Make sure to maintain the training at home.
- Plan Ahead. Put your dog in situations where they can succeed. Leaving a pet inside during the 4th of July might be the smartest option.
Three Things NOT To Do
- Stranger Danger. Don’t approach a strange dog whether it is on a leash or not. Most places have leash laws and designated off-leash areas, but just because a dog is in an off-leash area doesn't mean there is no risk of bite.
- Do Not Disturb. Don’t disturb a dog while it is sleeping, eating, playing with a toy, or with its puppies. Dogs are territorial with their possessions and are especially protective over their young.
- Run. Quick moving things may provoke a dog that was otherwise not disinterested. If you are around a strange dog and it has not yet shown any signs of aggression or attack, be sure to move slowly and with plenty of space between you.
By following these 10 simple precautions, you can decrease the chance you'll be bitten by a dog or that your own dog will bite someone else. Dog bite injury lawsuits aren't fun for anyone, regardless of whether you're the plaintiff or the defendant.