Statistics report that about 4 to 5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and of that number, half are children. Many of the dogs who bit are dogs that the people knew and not a stray. If you own a dog, it’s important to be able to read your dog’s body language and learn the basics of why dogs may bite. Never leave your children unattended with a dog and make sure you socialize your dog well. Always obey leash laws and teach your children and friends the best way to approach your dog and any dog.
If your dog is territorial or protective of the home, do not let him out without supervision and make sure all the gates and fences are secure to prevent him from getting out and scaring someone.
If you encounter an aggressive dog, here are 6 tips to avoid potential bites:
- Stay calm. Focus on your breathing. Stand still and be a “rock.” It sounds counterintuitive but it can work.
- Stay quiet and speak in a low and calm voice.
- Avoid making direct eye contact with the dog.
- Try to put something between you and dog, without sudden erratic movements. Don’t run even if that’s your instinct. Try to move slowly after standing still.
- Back away from the dog but do not turn around. Move slowly.
- If you are knocked down or trip, curl into a ball and use your hands and arms to protect your face.
Having an aggressive dog run towards you can be terrifying but if you can minimize your reaction it can help minimize the injuries you may sustain. Some dogs may stop and sniff you and then walk away. Others may growl at you from a few feet away and as you back away they may retreat. Teach your children to not pet strange dogs without asking the owner.
If you are walking your dog and see an off leash dog approaching, change direction and get yourself and your dog to a safer space. It will cut down on the chance of an aggressive interaction between the two.
Image from DogCancerAwareness.org