Dogs are one of the most popular pets in the United States. However, any dog can bite, and many beloved canine pets do bite. Dog bites can cause damage to the skin, muscles, tendons, nerves or bones. Dog bites can also cause infections and spread diseases.
Being bitten by a dog can be a painful and traumatic experience, and it is probably one you wish to avoid. Understanding dog body language is one way you can do so. By understanding dog body language, you can more easily identify situations when you might be at risk of being bitten and may need to separate yourself from the dog.
Be aware of a dog’s body language
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), a dog will typically exhibit a series of aggressive behaviors before biting someone. A dog may not exhibit all of the behaviors, but if you are able to identify a dog showing any signs of aggression, you can take steps to prevent a bite from occurring.
Common signs of aggression include the dog:
- Becoming rigid
- Releasing a guttural bark
- Lunging at you
- Mouthing you without applying significant pressure
- Punching you with its snout
- Showing teeth
- Snapping at you
What to do if a dog shows signs of aggression
If you notice a dog behaving aggressively, do not panic, make loud noises or run from the dog. The dog may react to these behaviors by biting.
Instead, avoid making eye contact with the dog. If you can, try to stand with the side of your body facing the dog and slowly move away from the dog. If the dog lunges at you or is snapping at you, try to put something between you and the dog, such as a bag or a jacket. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball, tuck your head in, and cover your ears and neck with your hands.
Although you can treat some dog bite injuries at home, it is usually safer to have a doctor examine all dog bite wounds. Contact information for the dog’s owner and witnesses can be valuable to obtain, if you are able to. It can also be helpful to find out if the dog is up to date on vaccines. You may also consider reporting the incident to your local police department or animal control agency.
If you are severely injured by someone’s pet, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries. You should not have to suffer because someone else did not take reasonable actions to prevent his or her dog from causing harm.