How to Recognize and Prevent a Dog Attack

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Sep 18, 2017 in Personal Injury

aggressive dog barkingDogs are a popular addition to many households and are often viewed as loyal and trusting animals. However, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S. with the majority of victims being small children between the ages of five and nine years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Because of the potentially dangerous consequences that could result from a serious dog bite injury, you should always remain cautious when you approach or interact with any dog.

The Phillips Law Group’s skilled personal injury attorneys in Phoenix have provided these useful tips that may help you avoid a dangerous encounter with an aggressive dog and prevent a dog bite. If you or someone you love has been injured by an aggressive dog, our attorneys can help you determine if you have a case against the dog’s owner.

Recognize the Signs

One of the most useful ways to prevent a dog attack is to recognize the signs that a dog may be acting aggressive or unusual. These warning signs can include:

Raising and Licking Lips

An early indication that a dog is agitated or uncomfortable is yawning or raising and licking its lips. Typically, this indicates that a dog is uneasy with the situation and has become unsettled.

Growling, Showing Teeth or Snapping

When a dog is about to bite, it usually emits a low growl that is followed by exposed or snapping teeth. This hostile behavior is a dog’s most direct way to show that it feels threatened in the situation and is uncomfortable with how it is being treated.

If you are around a dog that is growling, exposing or snapping its teeth, quickly identify what the dog is threatened by and remove it to make the dog feel less anxious.

Wagging Tail

Although a wagging tail can be a sign that the dog is happy or excited, it can also indicate that the dog is threatened or on edge.

A simple way to interpret a dog’s intentions when its tail is moving is to examine the other body movements it may be making.

The tail of a dog who feels agitated or threatened will be raised high and slowly wagging while the rest of its body is still and rigid. If a dog’s body is tense, it may be an indication that the dog is unhappy with its current situation.

Rigid Body

A rigid body is a recognizable trait that dogs will display when they feel threatened. If a dog is anxious or on edge, it will stiffen its body and every muscle will become rigid. The dog will usually be standing square with its ears perked and tail raised, as if it were frozen. This can indicate the dog is preparing to attack.

Raised Fur

Another indication that a dog may be preparing to bite is raised fur. When a dog feels threatened, the fur on its back or neck will often stand up, indicating the dog is uneasy with whatever is going on around it.

Exposing the Whites of the Dog’s Eyes

Normally, the white part of a dog’s eyes will be covered or hidden. This indicates that the dog is content and comfortable with its situation and the people interacting with it.

However, if you see the whites of a dog’s eyes, it may be a warning sign that the dog will attack. When a dog feels threatened, it will keep its eyes on the threat and maintain direct eye contact. This means regardless of where the dog moves its head, the eyes will always stay on the threat, causing the whites to be exposed.

Tips for Interacting With a Dog

If you are around a dog that is displaying hostile behavior, be cautious about how you approach or respond to it. You should interact with an aggressive dog by:

  • Never approaching or attempting to pet the dog, even if you are familiar with it
  • Reporting a dog that is acting hostile or behaving in a strange way
  • Refraining from making eye contact with a hostile dog
  • Allowing a dog to smell you and become comfortable with you before petting it
  • Showing dominance and using a firm voice
  • Never getting between a female dog and her puppies
  • Never petting or disturbing a dog that is eating or sleeping

In the event that you are approached by a hostile dog, following these tips may help prevent the dog from attacking you:

  • Remain still and as motionless as possible during the encounter
  • Remain calm and do not panic, yell or make any sudden or unexpected movements
  • Position yourself at an angle to avoid directly facing the dog
  • Do not run if you come across a hostile dog
  • Guard your face and do not make eye contact
  • Slowly start walking backwards when the dog has moved a safe distance
  • Do not turn your back to the dog

What to Do if a Dog Bites You

It is extremely important to seek medical attention immediately after a dog bites you. According to the CDC, one in five dog bites become infected. To prevent a dog bite injury from causing further medical issues or becoming fatal, follow these steps:

  • Use heavy articles of clothing to protect yourself during an attack, such as jacket or purse to block the dog from biting you directly and puncturing your skin.
  • If the dog knocks you to the ground, curl into a ball and protect your head, neck and ears by using your arms and hands.
  • After the attack ends, find a safe shelter you can use and begin to clean out your wounds using soap and clean water. Call 911 if your injuries are serious.
  • Contact the authorities to report the dog and your injuries. You should notify authorities of the dog’s breed, size and gender.
  • Find the dog’s owner to obtain his or her name, home address and phone number. You should ask the owner if the dog has been vaccinated for rabies or has a history of behaving aggressively or attacking people.
  • If the dog has been vaccinated for rabies or other diseases, find out the vaccine license number and the contact information for the veterinarian who administered the vaccine.

Contact Our Dog Bite Attorneys in Phoenix

The time following a dog bite is critical and you must act quickly to seek medical attention to treat your injury. Once a health care provider has examined and cared for your wound, do not hesitate to contact a skilled attorney to discuss the possibility of legal action against the owner.

Our skilled attorneys are well-versed in Arizona’s dog bite laws and will use our knowledge and experience to hold the owner liable for the damages you suffered. We are ready to provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to discuss the attack and determine if you may be owed compensation.

We work only on a contingency fee basis and do not charge upfront legal fees and other expenses. Our attorneys only require payment if we recover damages for your claim.

Call or text 1-800-706-3000 if you were bitten by an aggressive dog.

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