3 Must-Know Facts About Avoiding Dog Bites

Dog bites can be scary and serious. As a dog owner, it is as important for you to know how to prevent your dog from biting yourself or other people as it is knowing how to avoid being bitten. We'll show you what you need to know so you can stop a dog bite before it even happens.
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1. You Can Avoid Being Bitten

Though there are exceptions, you can often avoid being bitten by a dog with a few simple precautions:

  • Never approach a strange dog, especially one who's tied or confined behind a fence or in a car.
  • Don't pet a dog--even your own--without letting him see and sniff you first.
  • Never turn your back to a dog and run away. A dog's natural instinct will be to chase and catch you.
  • Don't disturb a dog while she's sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for puppies.
  • Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn't know you may see you as an intruder or a threat.
  • Just as we teach our children to practice safety in other situations, we can teach them to be safe around dogs. The most important lessons for children to learn are to not chase or tease dogs they know and to avoid dogs they don't know.

2. Learn How to Deal with a Dog Attack

Sometimes, no matter how much you make sure you're on your best behavior around a dog, you can end up on the receiving end of an attack. If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:

  • Never scream and run. Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog. Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight.
  • If the dog does attack, "feed" him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around. It will only get the dog more worked up.

3. What to Do if You're Bitten

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic. Hopefully, someone else will be around to help by pulling the animal off of you, restraining it, and calling animal control or the police. If not, follow the steps above to diffuse the attack and then call for help as soon as possible and take care of your wounds. 

  • Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water. Contact your physician for additional care and advice. Even a shallow bite can become serious if bacteria gets in the wound, so be sure to take the proper precautions to prevent infection.
  • Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including his owner's name and the address where he lives. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw him, whether you've seen him before, and in which direction he went.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Humane Society of the United States' website.

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