Although dog bites are fairly uncommon, they do happen and they create a dangerous situation for both the dog and the victim. In addition to being dangerous for people and presenting a real risk of infection and serious injury, dog bites also generally mean that the animal responsible will be euthanized or seized by authorities. Follow these tips to avoid dog bites and learn how to recognize a potentially dangerous situation:
Pay Attention to the Dog’s Eyes
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and in the case of dogs, eyes can often give you a great deal of information about their current mood. Avoid dogs that are staring at you with their heads slightly averted, as well as dogs that will not look at you. These dogs are trying to evade interaction and can easily become aggressive.
Don’t Rely on a Wagging Tail
Even if a dog is wagging their tail and looks friendly, it is not a wise idea to approach them if you have not met them before. Although these dogs may be happy in the moment, they can easily become afraid or anxious if a stranger initiates contact. If you do not know the dog, ask permission from the owner before approaching or moving in close proximity to them. While wagging tails are often a sign of a friendly pup, it often does not tell the whole story.
Avoid Dogs That Seem Anxious or Perturbed
If a dog is pacing, panting, or avoiding contact with you, it’s a pretty safe bet that they are not interested in an interaction. Even if your intentions are merely to comfort the dog, it is wise to avoid dogs that are obviously agitated.
Avoid Dogs That Are Barking
If you happen to come across a dog that is barking and seems anxious or excited, you should give them a wide berth. While the dog may otherwise be friendly, they are obviously in some sort of distress or reacting to a strange, external stimulus and may bite or react aggressively if approached.
Even if you know a dog well and are familiar with their temperament, it is important to interact gently and respectfully with them. This is especially important for children to learn and applies particularly to dogs you may not know very well. Keep your hands and face away from the dog’s face and encourage others to do the same. Pet the dog gently and do not prod, poke, or play roughly with them under any circumstances.Although dog bites are a frightening prospect, it is possible to lessen your risk by learning how to avoid negative interactions and recognizing the warning signs of a dangerous situation. Although few dogs are naturally aggressive, many will bite if they are anxious, afraid, threatened, or uncertain, so be cautious during new interactions.