Dogs bring so much joy and companionship to our lives. They give their owners another reason to walk around the block a few times, say Hello to our neighbors, and socialize with other dog owners.
When we approach an unfamiliar dog, we can't assume they'll act like our best friend. Certain situations and behaviors scare dogs. And when they're scared, they bite.
To make sure you don't get attacked, and to reduce the number of dog bites in your area, follow these general dog safety tips:
• Always ask permission before petting someone else's dog.
• Be cautious if you encounter a dog that goes stiff and doesn't wag its tail. A friendly dog will wag and wiggle. A defensive dog will not.
• When you come across an unfamiliar dog, stand quietly, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact. If you run, the dog may chase. Move away slowly.
• If you're on a run and approach an unfamiliar dog; again, don't make eye contact. In many cases, the dog will stop chasing as you run away, because it thinks it has "won" by getting you off its territory. If it acts aggressively, you may have to stop. Stay calm. Let it know you are not afraid. If you have a piece of loose clothing, give it to the dog if it lunges and tries to bite. This will distract it long enough for you to flee to safety.
• Don't bother a dog when it's eating.
• Don't reach through a fence to pet a dog.
• Don't enter another person's property that contains a dog unless you're with the dog owner. Dogs can be protective of their family and territory.
• Don't leave children alone with dogs.
If a dog knocks you over:
• Roll into a ball with your face to the ground.
• Cover your face with your hands.
• Don't make any noise.
Most of the time, dogs are man's best friend. If you appear nonthreatening, you have a good chance of winning over a tentative pooch. Following the dog safety tips above will seriously reduce your chances of suffering a dog bite or attack.
If, however, the dog becomes violent and bites anyway, get medical attention as soon as possible. Also contact a personal injury lawyer. California takes dog bites seriously. For information on what do to in case of a dog bite, read my Ten Bits About Dog Bites blog.
Enjoy your evening walks, hikes, and runs this fall, whether you have a four-legged companion with you or not.
Photo courtesy of State Farm, Flickr.