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Dog Bites: How to Avoid Them and What to Do After a Bite

There are millions of dog owners in the United States, especially here in California. In fact, an estimated 36 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog. However, dogs, as nice as they may be, can also attack strangers or even people they are familiar with being around.

Dog bites can be very serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five dog bite victims requires medical attention. Some bites may become infected, which can lead to additional medical complications for victims. In the worst-case scenario, dog attacks cause permanent disfigurement or fatal injuries.

For these reasons, it is very important to know what to do if a dog bites you and how to avoid bites. Follow the steps below to maximize your safety and potential legal options if you do suffer damages from a dog bite. If you have questions about your legal rights after a dog attack, then we encourage you to contact our San Jose dog bite attorney.

Avoid Approaching Unfamiliar Dogs

Try to avoid approaching an unfamiliar dog. Do not assume that all dogs are going to be friendly. Some may have suffered abuse, which could make them more prone to aggression. Many dogs are territorial and may see you as a threatening intruder.

There are a lot of tips online about how to approach an unfamiliar dog. However, you should simply avoid this risk altogether by keeping your distance if you are able.

Stray dogs are also a major health risk. Rabies, the deadliest virus on the planet, is rare in our country but not nonexistent. You should know that rabies has a near 100 percent mortality rate once symptoms appear. Be careful when approaching any type of stray animal, including dogs.

Never Run From Dogs

Dogs are animals that operate on instinct. In fact, domestic dogs are descendants of grey wolves, which hunt and chase down prey in packs. Domestic dogs retained this instinct from their grey wolf ancestors.

When you run away from a dog, you are triggering its prey instinct to chase you down. Certain types of breeds are even more dangerous to run away from, as they may have been bred in ages past to chase down other animals.

Never Frighten or Provoke Dogs

Dogs can view humans as scary, especially if there is a history of abuse or other negative experiences in a dog’s past. For instance, dogs may be afraid of loud noises and could interpret such noises as a threat to their safety or the safety of its owner.

Plenty of dog owners have stories about how their pets are afraid of thunder or fireworks. However, loud noises could provoke an attack if they are intentionally directed at a dog.

Do Not Panic Around Dogs

You may have heard that dogs can sense fear. This is partially true. Dogs are very perceptive creatures and may be able to smell sweat and senses heightened levels of adrenaline and cortisol. Both are stress-induced hormones that may increase the chance of an attack depending on the dog and its socialization history.

Use the Right Kind of Body Language Around Dogs

Certain types of body language may provoke an attack. A fearful or aggressive dog may interpret your body language as threatening. For example, direct eye contact with an unfamiliar dog may increase the chance of an attack. This is because an unfamiliar dog may take eye contact as a challenge or threat.

The same is true for how you face a dog that approaches you with hostile intent. Instead of having your body face the dog head-on, you can turn your body to the side and use your hands, with your elbows tucked in, to protect your neck. Sudden, jerky movements may also provoke an attack.

Avoid Disturbing Dogs That Are Eating, Sleeping, or Caring for Puppies

Do not disturb dogs when they are cleaning themselves, sleeping, or caring for their puppies. Never, ever approach a dog while it is eating. This is by far one of the easiest ways to provoke an attack. Dogs can be protective over their food due to an instinctive drive for self-preservation.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

You should seek immediate medical attention after a serious bite, especially from an unfamiliar dog. The hospital can provide medications that prevent rabies from turning symptomatic. It is also important to have the bite area disinfected and possibly stitched so infection does not occur.

There are cases where it is necessary to consult with an attorney after a dog bite. Serious dog bites may cause you and your family to suffer extensive financial and emotional damages. This is especially true for children or for dog bites and/or attacks that lead to disfigurement. California law allows dog bite victims to recover compensation for their damages.

Call Our San Jose Dog Bite Attorney for More Information

San Jose dog bite attorney Braid Pezzaglia can help bite victims and their families determine possible legal options for recovering compensation. You can call Braid for a free consultation by dialing (408) 650-8955 or by using the online contact form.