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TDLF’s Best Methods for Avoiding Dog Bites

Posted by attorney George Davis

Knowing a dog’s bark and how to avoid dog bites

Dog attacks can result in very serious injuries. Although we routinely seek damages for victims of dog bites, we would prefer that such injuries simply not occur. Here are a few steps you can take to avoid an attack when dealing with an unfamiliar dog:

First and foremost, stay alert!

We think this one goes without saying- but, contrary to popular belief, a dog will not directly tell you when it is ready to attack. It is partly your job to avoid unfamiliar animals when possible, and stay vigilant if one is in your presence.

Look to the dog’s “stance"

By this we look at a dog’s overall posture in approaching you or your children. Generally an aggressive dog will be up on all fours in “attack mode" or crouched down ready to pounce. The key here is to watch the dog’s muscle tension, usually indicated by the presence or absence of raised “hackles" (or the hair) on their back or neck.

Is its tail wagging?

Dogs use their tails to express a variety of emotions, including aggression. If the dog you are dealing with has raised her tail either straight up or out, and it is not wagging, you may want to move away.

Are teeth showing?

This one is pretty basic- If you can see teeth, or if the dog’s upper lip seems to be “curling" so as to soon expose them then concern should be had and you should retreat, if possible.

Where is it looking?

Hopefully you had enough warning with the other factors, and never have to get here, but if the dog is concentrating intently on you (this is where the term “mad dogging" comes from), and has exhibited any combination of the above-behaviors, evasive action is immediately necessary. If he is not looking at you or your child then he is likely ready to pounce on someone or something else.

Finally, what is it saying?

Dogs can’t speak English or any other human language, so they will never directly threaten you before an attack. You might be surprised, however, how much you can learn from a growl. If the sound coming from the dog is low and deep get away now.

If you keep these subtle indicators in mind your chances of avoiding being bit by a dog will skyrocket, even in the presence of an otherwise unfriendly pup. Should you ever encounter such an animal remember: stay calm, and do your best to back away slowly- hopefully the dog will lose interest or stop seeing you as a threat. Hopefully these few tips will you avoid serious injury from a dog attack.

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