If you go out for a stroll in Southern California, the odds are good that you’ll meet a dog or two. Though you may be tempted to greet these canines that cross your path, you should remember that not every dog is as happy to see you.
The unfortunately reality is that dog bites happen. While these incidents can be painful—and if they require medical treatment, costly—there are easy ways to avoid them. By following a few simple pointers, you can dodge getting bitten and spare yourself, the dog and its owner from a traumatic experience.
Here are five helpful tips for preventing dog bites:
1. Don’t approach an aggressive dog that’s standing tall.
It may seem obvious, but an aggressive dog. If a dog is making itself look bigger and standing straight forward with its tail standing on end, it could be poised to attack. A dog in this situation may also be showing its teeth, growling or barking—all telltale signs that you should stand back.
2. Be cautious with an anxious, crouching dog.
If a dog is cowering and showing signs of anxiety, it could lunge out and attack. Even when low to the ground, licking its lips and looking otherwise harmless, a dog may see you as a threat. Read the situation: if a dog is frightened and backed into a corner, it could cause you harm.
3. Ask the dog’s owner for permission before petting.
You should always ask the owner before petting an unknown dog. A dog’s owner will know if it’s safe to approach, and if they’re not present, simply stay away.
4. Don’t disturb a dog that’s eating.
is eating, playing with a toy or caring for puppies, it’s wise to not approach. A distracted dog is more likely to be startled by a sudden movement, and it could bite you out of fear.
5. Allow the dog to come to you.
If you’re meeting a dog for the first time, let the dog approach you first. Lower yourself to the dog’s level, or turn to your side and let the dog sniff your hand. Also, do not put your face too close before you establish a rapport with the animal.
To avoid a dog bite, having a basic awareness of the situation can go a long way. By adhering to some simple safety guidelines, you can better protect yourself from dangerous interactions with dogs you encounter.