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How to stay safe around unfamiliar dogs

Summer is well underway, and the warm weather means owners and their canine companions are spending more time at the park, beach and other locations populated with visitors. While dogs may be man’s best friend, injuries from dog bites can happen. There are many kind and loving dogs, but erring on the side of caution is in your best interest, especially if you have young children with you.


How to prevent bites

Resisting the urge to approach and pet a dog that you do not know can keep you safe from potential risks. Every dog reacts to people and situations differently. Here are some ways to prevent dogs from biting you or your children:

  • Always ask permission from its owner before petting a dog.
  • Pay attention to the dog’s body language and look for signs of fear, aggression or illness.
  • Stay still and avoid eye contact if an unknown dog approaches you. Do not yell or run away.
  • Keep your body facing the dog and avoid turning your back on it.
  • If the dog is aggressive and tries to attack, put something between yourself and the dog such as a jacket, bike or other object.

What to do if you are bitten

If a dog does bite you, knowing what to do next is crucial. Dogs can pass diseases, such as rabies, through a bite. Taking the following actions as soon as possible can help prevent infection or further damage depending on the severity of the injury.

  • Wash the wound as soon as possible and dress it appropriately.
  • Seek medical help if the wound is severe or gets worse in the days following.
  • Contact the owners and find out if the dog has been vaccinated for rabies.
  • If no owner information is available, or if the dog appears to be sick, consider reporting the incident to your local animal control or police department.

Being cautious around dogs you do not know is a good way prevent harmful incidents, especially in the summer when owners and their dogs are outside more. Although it may seem unlikely a dog will try to bite, it is best not to make assumptions. Knowing what to do can give you peace of mind if you find yourself around potentially dangerous dogs.

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