How to Avoid Dog Bites

New Yorkers love to keep dogs as pets, and furry friends are viewed as family members by many people. Sadly, however, not every pet knows how to behave around humans; dog attacks are quite common in the Big Apple.

If you’re wondering how to avoid dog bites, you need to know the difference between a relaxed dog and a hostile, potentially violent animal. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll have a much better chance of staying out of harm’s way.

How to Avoid Dog Bites: Looking at Body Language

The most effective way to lower your risk of suffering a dog bite is to steer well clear of any animal that looks like it might attack you. A dog’s body language carries many clues as to whether it’s likely to behave aggressively, such as:

  • Tail wagging: A threatened dog’s tail will point upwards or wag aggressively, while a relaxed animal will move its tail more gently or point at the ground. It’s important to note that different dogs have differently shaped tails, and that some have no tail at all, so you should make note of other indicators as well as this one if you’re concerned about a dog’s demeanor.
  • Ear positioning: Dogs tend to prick their ears up when they feel threatened, giving them a taut, alert appearance.
  • Teeth baring: Threatened dogs often bare their teeth. According to experts, though, bared teeth are not always a sign of hostility, so it’s important to consider other behavioral signs as well. If a dog is growling while showing its teeth, it’s probably a good idea for you to keep your distance.
  • Barking: Almost all dogs bark now and again, and they do so for a variety of reasons. But when a dog is barking menacingly for a prolonged period of time, it may be preparing to attack.

As noted, certain actions may or may not indicate hostility on a dog’s part. With this in mind, it’s better to stay on the safe side if you have any concern that a dog might attack, especially if there are children around.

Why Do Dogs Attack Humans?

Not every dog that bites a human does so out of natural viciousness. Ordinarily friendly dogs can attack people for various reasons.

New mothers, for example, get very defensive around their pups until they grow enough to fend for themselves. Pups spend almost all their time around their mother for the first three weeks after their birth; experts recommend that humans who are not very familiar with a bitch who has recently had a litter of pups should avoid her entirely during this period.

Food is another factor that commonly incites aggression in dogs; their protective instincts are especially likely to kick in when they have a particularly enjoyable piece of food in their possession. According to Tufts University, a dog is much more likely to get aggressive while eating canned food than dry food. As a rule of thumb, though, it’s best not to disturb a dog at all while it’s eating.

Another thing to be careful about is the way you play with dogs. Animals don’t always understand our intentions, and they may lash out if they perceive your playful behavior as a threat. This (as we’ll discuss in more detail below) is one of the reasons why it’s crucial to monitor interactions between children and dogs in particular.

How to Respond to an Attack or Threat

If you’re confronted with a dog that’s behaving aggressively or trying to hurt you, there are certain steps you should take to minimize your risk of major injury. These include:

  • Standing your ground: Running away from a dog that has gotten loose may encourage it to chase. The best thing to do is to stand still and avoid eye contact with the dog. This may cause the animal to lose interest.
  • Distracting the animal: Try tossing a ball or other item away from you if you’re being pursued or cornered. You may be able to distract the animal by doing this.
  • Avoiding eye contact: Dogs sometimes interpret direct stares as a type of challenge. You should never look directly at an animal when it’s behaving aggressively.
  • Keeping the dog calm: When playing with a dog, don’t let things get out of hand. A dog often doesn’t know the full extent of its own strength, and playful fighting can often become dangerous without the dog intentionally desiring to harm you. Set limits with dogs that are prone to hyperactivity.

The Responsibilities of Owners

It’s crucial to understand that it’s the dog owner’s responsibility to see that their pets don’t bite, rather than the general public’s duty to avoid getting bitten.

If you own a dog that tends to be aggressive, make sure to make full use of leashes, muzzles, portable dog carriers, and fenced-in areas. If you’re afraid that your dog might pose a threat to others, you should send it for training.

Even seemingly friendly dogs should be supervised at all times. Remaining vigilant is the best way to ensure that your dog and those around it stay safe.

Children & Dogs

Children and family pets often have safe, rewarding relationships, and these bonds can form an important part of a young person’s life. However, it’s important to keep in mind that kids don’t understand the risks dogs pose, and dogs don’t understand that the potentially intrusive behavior of children isn’t intended to be threatening. So, it’s imperative to educate your kids if they’re going to be around dogs and to monitor younger children at all times while dogs are near.

Specifically, you should:

  • Teach your children not to pull a dog’s ears or tail.
  • Teach your children not to approach an animal while it’s sleeping or eating.
  • Warn kids not to approach strange dogs unless they have the owner’s permission and guidance.
  • Be aware of breeds that have a bad record when it comes to child safety and exercise particular caution when your child is around a dog like this.
  • Show your children how to play with dogs in a way that’s safe and respectful, and that’s unlikely to be perceived as threatening by the animal.

No matter where your child goes, they’re almost certain to encounter dogs at least occasionally, so it’s a good idea to teach them these lessons even if you don’t keep pets yourself.

Contact Tucker Lawyers PC With Any Questions

If you’ve suffered a dog bite that came about because the animal’s owner was negligent, you may have the right to compensation. Don’t allow someone else’s carelessness to leave you out of pocket.

If you have any questions we didn’t manage to answer in this blog post, contact us today. You can reach us over the phone at (516) 399-2364 or via the contact form on our website.

john tucker

Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.

John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]

Table of Contents