How To Prevent And Avoid Dog Bites

Why Do Dogs Bite?

why dogs bite

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), dogs bite for a few different reasons.

Dogs may bite because they’re stressed, scared, defensive, or threatened.

Dogs are also known to bite if they aren’t feeling well, or in order to protect itself of its territory.

Typically, dogs don’t bite for no reason — and you can usually tell if a dog is starting to get agitated.

How To Avoid Being Bitten By A Dog

avoid dog bites

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

There are a variety of things owners and strangers can do in order to prevent dog bites.

The dog’s owner should socialize their pet with other animals and people so that they feel more at ease in new situations. Owners should also always leash their dogs when leaving the home or backyard in order to keep them under control.

Other people can educate themselves on how to interact with new dogs and what signs to look out for.

Many dogs will snarl or growl before biting as a method of showing displeasure — paying attention to signs like this can help everyone avoid upsetting the dog more.

#1: Ask The Owner For Permission

ask owner

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you’re meeting a dog for the first time — say at the park or on the street — the first thing you need to do is ask the owner for permission to pet their dog.

The owner knows the dog best out of anyone, so they will know their temperament and whether or not the dog reacts well to strangers.

Additionally, some dogs are very defensive and want to protect themselves and their owners, so if you just bend down to pet them, they may react negatively, which could lead to a bite.

#2: Let The Dog Approach You

let dog approach

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you are greeting an unfamiliar dog, never directly approach — they may see this as an act of aggression.

Instead, stay still and allow the dog to approach you first — this will give them a chance to sniff you and understand that you are not a threat.

This is also true if you spot a dog running loose in the street. A dog off-leash might be scared and act defensive first, so don’t chase the dog down.

#3: Don’t Stare Into The Dog’s Eyes

look away

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you stare a dog directly in the eyes, many will understand this action as a threat.

The CDC explains that you should “stand with the side of your body facing the dog. Facing a dog directly can appear aggressive to the dog.”

#4: Don’t Disturb A Dog Who Is Eating Or Sleeping

don't disturb dog

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Most dogs are protective of their food, so approaching them while they’re eating is never a good idea. Even people they love may be at risk of getting bitten if the dog thinks their food is going to be taken away.

Additionally, you should never disturb a sleeping dog. Dogs are fully relaxed when they’re sleeping and they aren’t expecting to be interrupted, so if they are, they may be surprised or scared and may respond aggressively.

#5: Don’t Come Between A Mama And Her Pups

mama pups dog

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Most people know this, but you should never get between a mama and her pups.

This is true for almost any animal — from bears to moose — and it is definitely the case for dogs.

If a dog is nursing her puppies, she will be very defensive and won’t hesitate to do whatever is necessary to protect her babies.

#6: Don’t Pet The Dog’s Head

don't pet head

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Most people know that they shouldn’t reach for a dog’s paws, neck, or belly when meeting them for the first time, but they don’t realize that some dogs are protective of their heads.

Since some dogs don’t like to be pet on the head, it’s best to pet them on the back or side, until you know them well enough to go for an ear scratch or head rub.

#7: Don’t Panic

don't panic

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If a dog seems to be coming at you aggressively, don’t panic.

Stay still and stay calm. Don’t run away and don’t make any loud noises.

In a steady, low voice, tell the dog “Go Home” or “No.” Many dogs understand that a low voice is the human version of a growl, so they may understand that you’re the alpha in the situation.

What To Do If A Dog Bites/Attacks You

if dog attacks

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If a dog attacks you, the CDC recommends that you “Curl into a ball with your head tucked and your hands over your ears and neck.”

This will protect you from injury and also show the dog that you are not going to try to fight back.

When To Seek Medical Help

dog bites call help

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Some dog bites are serious, while others may just be minor cuts.

For minor wounds, wash the area with soap and water, apply antibiotic cream, and cover the area with a clean bandage.

Seek immediate medical attention if your wound is very serious, is bleeding uncontrollably, or looks infected. You should also seek medical care if it’s been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot, or if you’re unsure whether the dog has a current rabies vaccination.

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How To Prevent And Avoid Dog Bites

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