Do you worry about dog bites because you have small children and you know that they have higher risks and greater odds of fatal injuries? Or do you worry about them because you’re a frequent runner and you’ve had one too many encounters with off-leash dogs?
No matter why you worry about it, just know that your concern is valid. Thousands of people suffer dog bites every year. Some of these attacks can be fatal, especially for children, or can result in catastrophic injuries even for adults. If you get approached by an aggressive dog, here is what you should do according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Be proactive and stay away from dogs you do not know. Even if you have a right to be there — i.e., you’re running down the sidewalk near the dog’s house while it stands in the yard — make the choice to cross the street or stay out of the dog’s perceived territory.
- If the dog does chase you, do not run from it. Your instincts tell you to run, but doing so often just makes the dog more aggressive and it may instinctively give chase. If it does, no matter how fast you are, you cannot outrun it.
- Try to avoid loud noises and panic, as well. Stay as calm as you can. Talk to the dog in a controlled, non-aggressive voice. You want to show it that you are not a threat, not intimidate it into backing down.
- Stand as still as you can. Many experts refer to this as being as “still as a tree.” Fold your arms across your chest and stand stock still. Many dogs will just bark and growl and then go on their way without ever biting.
- If the dog does lash out at you to bite, try to give it something to attack that can take its attention off of you. Perhaps the most common example is a coat. The dog may take the coat and bound off, giving you a chance to walk away slowly and carefully.
- Protect your neck and face if the dog bites and you have no way to stop it. The dog may bite you in an area that, though very painful, is not nearly as catastrophic. You can minimize the damage and then seek medical help after the dog leaves.
These tips do help, but you know they do not prevent every attack or every injury. If you get hurt by a dog due to the owner’s negligence, make sure you know if you have a right to financial compensation for your medical bills and other costs.