With summer just around the corner, it’s important to brush up on animal safety to avoid any unnecessary accidents this season. The good weather often encourages people out of doors, sometimes with their furry companions. As fun and friendly as dogs can be, there is always a risk of some type of attack or accident, as there is with any animal. Animal owners may take their pets to the park, the beach, or just for a casual stroll around the neighborhood.
Wherever you are, whether you’re at a neighbor’s BBQ with the family dog or playing at the park near a dog run, it’s important that you be on guard. To prevent an accident, make sure you know how to behave around dogs this summer and discover what you should do if a dog shows signs of aggression.
To avoid a dog bite or attack this summer, follow these simple tips:
- Don’t approach a dog you don’t know. Dogs can be skittish and fearful, and if you don’t know the animal, you should not try to approach it alone. If the owner is nowhere to be seen, call animal control or leave the animal alone, do not attempt to pet it or catch it on your own.
- Never sneak up on a dog. Even when you’re dealing with a dog you know, even your own dog, never sneak up on them. Animals are unpredictable, and even the friendliest, most well-behaved dog may react aggressively if frightened. Always make your presence known by making a bit of noise when you approach, or approach the dog from the front so that he or she can see you.
- When meeting a new dog, let it get used to you. If you see a dog you’d like to pet, or your children would like to pet or greet a dog they see, always ask the owner for permission first. If the owner grants permission, hold out your hand to the dog to let it smell you first before you pet it. Teach your children to do the same. If you reach for a dog before it knows you, it could respond out of fear, potentially attempting to bite or snarl.
- Children should never be left alone with a dog. Even if your children know the dog well, or even if the dog is yours, you should never leave a child alone with a dog. Kids, especially younger ones, do not understand that animals react to things differently than people do. For this reason, what may seem like a hug to your toddler could be seen as an act of aggression to the dog, which could provoke the dog to attack. To prevent an accident like this from happening, make sure your child always has supervision around a dog.
- Avoid teasing dogs. What you might consider playing or teasing, a dog might perceive as aggressive behavior. Even staring a dog in the eyes can sometimes prompt a defensive response, so attempting to rough-house with an animal or teasing it with a toy or food could be especially provoking. Instead of teasing the animal, play fetch or make it sit for a treat. This helps ensure your safety and creates a healthy, trusting bond with the dog you’re playing with. Or, if the dog is behind a fence or in a cage, it is best not to interact with the dog at all without the owner around.
Avoiding an Attack
If you are in a position where you think a dog might attack you, you need to respond appropriately, or you might accidentally provoke the animal. Dogs can sense any drastic responses, and if you are afraid, the dog will know. If you’re afraid the dog may attack, remain calm and turn yourself to the side. You don’t want to run, because this will prompt the dog to chase you, but you also don’t want to turn your back on an aggressive dog or face it head-on. Turning to the side puts you in a strong stance and allows you more time to call for help. If nobody comes to your assistance, try throwing a nearby blanket, jacket, or towel over the dog in an attempt to temporarily blind it so you can escape to safety.
Dogs can be loving, fun companions as long as you know how to behave around them properly. This summer, make sure you practice safe behavior around animals to prevent any unfortunate incidents.
Unfortunately, sometimes a dog bite or attack may occur no matter what you do. If you were injured in a dog attack, contact Samster Konkel & Safran, S.C.