Over a third of all households in the U.S. have at least one dog. Meaning that whether you are one of these households or not, you don't have to look very hard to find a dog.
Considering how easily and often people can encounter dogs, it is crucial to have a basic understanding of how to stay safe around them. This means knowing why dogs bite in the first place, as well as what behaviors you should avoid and how to approach a dog properly.
Why dogs bite in the first place
Dogs are animals, and their primary defense mechanism is to bite. But while all dogs are capable of biting, not all of them do. Often, dogs bite if they are:
- Feeling anxious or stressed out
- Trying to protect something, like its owner, a toy, food or its territory
- Feeling sick
- Wanting to be left alone
- Scared or startled
- Feeling threatened
- Playing too roughly
What to do, what to avoid
Knowing why dogs may be more inclined to bite can help you understand why you should avoid certain behaviors around them -- particularly when you don't know the dog. For instance, you should not:
- Pet strange dogs without permission
- Shout or make panicked noises around the dog
- Aggravate or disturb a dog while it is sleeping or eating
- Leave a child alone with a strange dog unsupervised
- Play rough or aggressively with the dog
Instead, you should approach dogs slowly and carefully. If a dog is approaching you, stand still and avoid any frightening or aggressive movements. Avoid direct eye contact and keep your body turned to the side.
As helpful as these tips can be when it comes to how you choose to encounter dogs, a confrontation with a dog is not always your choice.
If a negligent owner lets his or her dog roam free or fails to properly secure a dangerous dog, you could be attacked or bitten without the time and tools to protect yourself. In these situations, seeking medical attention will be crucial. You might also consider exploring your legal options with an attorney.