Any dog can bite under the right circumstances. To prevent dog bites, you can avoid the situations that trigger animals to bite. If you are a dog owner, you can also practice responsible pet ownership.
What Makes Dogs Bite?
Dogs bite as a reaction to stress, fear, excitement, injury, and illness. They may also bite to protect something important to them, like food, puppies, or a toy.
Humans can also provoke dogs to bite by harassing them, playing too rough, and failing to leave a dog alone when it is aggressive or scared.
Understanding Dog Body Language
You should never approach a dog that is anxious, scared, or aggressive. Recognizing the signs of aggression, anxiety, and fear can help you avoid dog bites.
Aggressive Body Language
If the dog is aggressive, it will try to make itself look bigger. Its ears may be up and forward, and its fur may be on end. Aggressive dogs try to make themselves look bigger and may growl, lunge, bark, or bare their teeth. If you see this kind of body language, do not approach the dog, avoid eye contact, and back away slowly. NEVER run from a dog.
Anxiety and Fear
A dog that is feeling anxious and afraid will try to make itself look smaller. If a dog is shrinking to the ground or has its tail between its legs, give it space. Don’t chase a dog that runs away from you and never corner an animal. If a scared or anxious dog feels like it has no other option, it may growl, snarl, or bite.
Avoiding dogs showing any signs of anxiety, fear, or aggression will help you prevent dog bites.
Canine Safety Tips
Spending time with dogs can be fun and rewarding, but there are some things you should never do. Some of the best safety tips for being around dogs include:
- Do not touch, approach, or play with a dog that is sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or bone, or caring for puppies
- Never approach a barking or growling dog
- Stay away from dogs that are not with their owners
- Do not try to pet a dog through a fence or car window
- Always ask for permission before petting someone else’s dog
- Let dogs see and sniff you before petting them
- Leave dogs alone if they seem to be hiding or seeking alone time
Children may not know how to behave around dogs, so if you are a parent, make sure your child knows they should never:
- Tease a dog or pull its tail or ears
- Squeeze a dog too tight or drop it
- Jump or fall on dogs
- Bother dogs when they are eating, sleeping, or with puppies
- Take a toy or bone away from a dog
- Rough-house or play tug of war with a dog
- Feed a dog with their fingers
- Crowd or corner a dog
Following these tips should help you prevent most dog bites. If you see a strange dog in the street without its owner, call animal control right away.
Your Responsibility as a Dog Owner
If you own a dog, make sure to spay or neuter and socialize your pet. Introducing your dog to new people and situations as a puppy will help it feel more comfortable as an adult. Spend lots of time with your dog and don’t chain your pet up outside. Always keep your dog on a leash and know your pet’s triggers.
Unfortunately, many dog bites are the result of poor dog ownership. As the saying goes, “there are no bad dogs, only bad owners.”
If someone else’s dog bites you, they can be held liable for any injuries or losses related to the dog bite. New Hampshire is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, so if you are attacked by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation.
Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. can help you get the compensation you deserve. We have more than 100 years of combined experience, and we always prioritize our clients.
Our firm has been the go-to for New Hampshire residents since 1997, and we are ready to help you, too.
Call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online to get started with a free consultation about your dog bite case.