Dog Bite Prevention, Treatment & the Law- Updated April 7, 2022
What do I do if a stray/aggressive dog approaches me?
Don’t try to run. Stand still. You cannot outrun a dog and running can elicit a prey drive.
Stand sideways, hold your arms close to your sides with closed fists, and don’t move.
Look at the ground and watch the dog with your peripheral vision.
Don’t stare at the dog waive your arms or scream. He could interpret staring as a challenge and screaming or waiving your arms can increase his excitement and further escalate the situation .
Let the dog sniff you if he wants. Keep calm to keep him calm.
When the dog leaves, do not turn your back on the dog. Back away slowly, so you can keep an eye on them.
Tip- If you have strays or feral dogs in your area and your approached it’s a good idea to have a baggie of kibble that you can toss away so you can make a slow retreat.
How do I defend myself if a dog attacks me?
Create a barrier between you and the dog. Let the dog grab a purse, jacket, sweater or pick up a long stick and try to redirect your dog’s bite onto one of these items.
Find higher ground. Jump up on a mailbox, truck or area that a dog cannot jump on. Its harder to jump up and bite. You can also attempt to find a car door that is unlocked but in this day and age its unlikely.
Never scream or run as this will antagonize your dog.
Remove a shirt or sweater and throw over the offending dogs head. It will give you some time to make a quick getaway.
If a dog is viciously attacking you and your on the ground, roll up in a ball and cover your neck and face
Unless your Mike Tyson hitting them will probably escalate the fight and cause you more injuries.
Pepper spray can work for you or, against you. It can agitate a dog further or possibly incapacitate them so you can slowly retreat.
Child Safety – Approaching a dog
Teach children to NEVER approach a loose dog unless they approach their Parent first and then the dog parent.
NOTE- Some dogs do not like kids or are fearful of them
If permitted to approach a dog the child should make a fist and allow the dog to approach them. A child must never put their face in front of an unknown dogs face or reach over a dogs head to pat them. The best way for a child to approach a dog is to turn their head slightly. Offer a closed fist and let the leashed dog come to them. A child should NEVER look a dog directly in the eyes as this is considered dominance.
Children are naturally inclined to hug but In dog language that can be interpreted as dominance and might not go over well with a shy, fearful, dominant or aggressive dog. No hugging unless its tolerated by family dogs
Dog Behavior Watch 2 dogs greeting each other and most of the time one dog will avert direct eye contact which is a submissive gesture. 2 dogs that are dominant and staring directly in each other’s eyes could be ready to fight.
Keeping children safe from Loose or Stray dogs
Children should never scream or run as this could elicit a dog’s prey drive
If a dog attack is inevitable a child should climb up on a roof of car, scale a tree if they can and if a dog attacks then keep quiet and STOP, DROP & TURTLE covering their face with their hands
If a child is close to an open car door or their home they should slowly walk in and close the door
A child that is bitten by a dog can have emotional and physical scars for a lifetime,
Parents should always report stray or loose dogs to Animal Control and the Police.
How to break up a Dog Fight
Distract & Divide
Distract the dogs using an air horn, throwing a shirt over their face, dumping or spraying water on them, using a Citronella spray, or 2 brands that may be effective are the Pet Corrector which emits a loud hissing sound or the Doggie Don’t which startles dogs with a loud crackling sound similar to a taser.
Divide the fighting dogs by using a blanket, garbage can lid, branch or anything that you can separate them with. Worst case scenario is both dog parents grabbing their own dogs by their back legs and lifting them up like a wheelbarrow and walking both dogs backwards on their front legs. Make sure your hands and face are far away from their mouths when separating them.
Dog Bite Treatments
Roughly 50% of dog bites introduce bacteria and a stray/feral dog can have rabies. This is especially dangerous for Diabetics, Seniors and Immune-Compromised. A Dr. might have tostitch you up, give you atetanus shot,clean the wound,prescribe antibiotics.
If you wait too long after a dog bite and you develop a bad infection you could end up hospitalized on IV fluids.
If a stray dog has a less common condition called Furious Rabies they could be aggressive and excitable. If you are bitten go to the hospital Emergency for testing as they might have to administer aPost Exposure Rabies Vaccine.
Most dog fights sound a lot worse than they are but work themselves out in seconds, injury-free, no different than you and I having a verbal disagreement.
For any dog park bites find out if the offending dog has had a current Rabies shot. If you get bitten and blood is drawn go to a medical clinic. If your dog is injured by a bite visiting a Veterinary clinic is a good idea for a thorough exam.
Dog Bite Law
Dog Bite Law varies from state to state but the Typical Strict liability dog bite statute indicates that a dog owner is liable if their fog bites someone as long as the injured person was not trespassing or breaking the law at time of the dog bite.
Check to see if your Renters or Homeowners insurance policy covers dog liability. Some do and some do not. If a dog is a repeat biter or, listed on your insurance companies restricted breed list the policy will likely not cover you. The average dog bite insurance payout is between $30,000 and $50,000. A good portion of the insurance money will go to medical bills. Homeowners insurance covers dogs biting dogs and people.