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How to Stay Safe Around Unfamiliar Dogs

July 29th, 2020
Dog Bite Safety

It’s summertime which means many families with furry companions are spending more time outside enjoying walks, playing in the park and exploring neighborhoods and communities. While most dogs are friendly and welcome attention, remember dogs are still animals and when some feel threatened or scared, they can pose a risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year with at least half of those being children. It’s important to be cautious when meeting a new dog, especially when they are not in their own surroundings. The dog bite lawyers at Dale E. Anstine recommend the following tips when encountering man’s best friend:

  • Ask Permission
  • Pay Attention to Body Language
  • Stay Still and Avoid Eye Contact
  • Don’t Invade their Territory

Ask Permission

Always ask a dog owner permission to pet or interact with their dog. While excited and curious dogs may seem safe, sometimes they may not be welcoming to new people other than their owner. Owners can share if their four-legged friend would welcome affection from a stranger. Ask first, pet second to prevent a dog bite.

Pay Attention to Body Language

Just like with humans, a dog’s body language can speak volumes. A dog with a tense body, stiff tail, pulled back head or ears, or furrowed brow may be uncomfortable or not feeling well (even a yawn can be an indicator that something is not right). When encountering a dog that appears to be stressed, keep a safe distance.

Stay Still and Avoid Eye Contact

If a dog that appears ready to bite or attack approaches, take these steps to keep safe:

  • Resist the urge to run or scream. Dogs have an instinct to chase and may follow if you run.
  • Stay calm, still and avoid eye contact. Remain motionless with arms and hands by your sides.
  • Once the dog loses interest, slowly back away, never turning your back on the dog.

If the dog does get aggressive and attacks, put something between you and the dog, if possible, or give the dog something like a purse, hat, bike or other object – and try to remain calm.

Don’t Invade their Territory

When dogs are eating, sleeping, playing with a toy or with their puppies do not invade their territory. Dogs can be protective over what is theirs, so it is best to leave them alone in these instances. Plus, when eating, sleeping, playing or with their puppies, dogs may be less aware of what is going on around them and could be easily startled leading them to attack or bite. All dogs have a sense of personal space, so be sure not to invade their territory when they have a reason to be defensive.

We know in many cases dogs are more than just a pet – they are part of the family! However, be cautious around unfamiliar dogs to stay safe. Do not make any assumptions that a dog wants attention. If you have been bitten by a dog, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately, especially if the wound is serious and you have not had a recent tetanus shot. If possible, ask the owner if the dog is up to date on required vaccinations.

If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog and need to know your rights, reach out to the dog bite attorneys at Dale E. Anstine today. We understand the laws around dog bites in Pennsylvania and can help you get the compensation you deserve to cover expensive medical bills, lost wages and discuss options to seek compensation for pain and suffering that can arise following a dog bite. Our team is proud to protect the injured across York, Gettysburg, Hanover and all Central Pennsylvania. Consultations are always free, we’re available 24/7 and there’s no fee unless we win for you!