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How to Stay Safe Around Unfamiliar Dogs

July 30th, 2018
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 attorneys at Dale E. Anstine recommend the following tips and when encountering man’s best friend:

  • Ask Permission
  • Pay Attention to Body Language
  • Stay Still and Avoid Eye Contact

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.

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 isn’t 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.

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 or a loved one 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 accident and personal injury attorneys at Dale E. Anstine. We understand the laws around dog bites in Pennsylvania. Get a specialized attorney on your side who has a full understanding of personal injury law to know what you may be facing in court. With offices in York and Gettysburg, our team is proud to protect the injured across the Central Pennsylvania community. Consultations are always free, we’re available 24/7 and there’s no fee unless we win for you.