No matter how cuddly a dog looks, it’s important to remember that “man’s best friend” doesn’t always act as such. Getting bitten by a dog can be both emotionally traumatizing and physically painful. It can lead to injury or infection that requires a long recovery period and large medical bills—and maybe even a personal injury lawsuit.
During the summertime especially, many people take their dogs on long walks to soak up the warm weather together. To protect yourself from dog bites and prevent serious injury, abide by the following tips so that you don’t wind up in an unfortunate situation.
Approach a Dog Correctly
Approaching a dog from behind or too quickly will cause it to feel threatened and go into defense mode. Even if you’re dealing with your own dog, never try petting it without first letting it see and sniff you. Just like humans, dogs have personal space that needs to be respected. If you see a dog chewing, eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies, don’t disturb it.
Additionally, never approach a dog you don’t know, especially one that’s chained up without an owner present. To avoid dog bites from dogs you don’t know, always assume they see you as a threat and are prepared to attack at all times.
Watch Body Language
There are certain telling signs that a dog does not feel comfortable and may bite. Watch out for the following pieces of a dog’s body language; if you notice any occurring, put yourself at a safe distance away from the dog:
- Body is tensed
- Tail is stiff
- Pulls back head and/or ears
- Brow is furrowed
- Whites of eyes are visible
- Flicking tongue
- Staring intensely
- Backing away
If you notice any of these in regards to a dog near you, do not instantly turn your back and run away. The dog’s instinct will likely be to chase you, so this is ironically putting yourself at a greater risk of being bitten.
In Case of Attack
If you feel a dog in your presence is about to attack, the best thing to do to avoid potential dog bites is to remain still and put your arms by your side. Avoid eye contact, and slowly back away if the dog loses interest. If it does attack, put something between you and the dog to distract it—your jacket or purse will do. Remain as motionless as possible. If you fall to the ground, curl yourself into the fetal position with your hands covering your ears, and resist the urge to scream or roll around.
What to Do if You’re Bitten
Sometimes, no matter what you do, dog bites can’t be prevented. If this is the case, wash the wound immediately with soapy water to prevent infection, then contact your physician for additional instructions. Then report the dog and all of its information—including its owner and address—to your local animal control agency.
If you’ve recently been bitten by a dog and need damages to cover your medical bills, contact the McMahan Law Firm today. We have offices in both Chattanooga and Knoxville, and will work hard to make sure you get the settlement you deserve.