Dealing with Dog Bites

Dog bites, dog attacks and maulings by dogs are a problem the world over. Sometimes these injuries can be fatal. They tend to affect children most (most children have been bitten by a dog they know by age 11), but can happen to anyone. It can be helpful to understand some techniques for avoiding dog bites, keeping your own dog from biting, and what to do if you or your child are bitten.

While no one in the United States has contracted rabies from a dog bite since 1938, caution is always recommended. An animal can transfer rabies to humans, and since 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, it is better to be safe than sorry.

What is the Best Way to Avoid Dog Bites?

First and foremost, make sure children are aware not to touch strange dogs, and do not leave children with dogs unattended. Since children are naturally inclined to approach dogs, teach them not to do so unless they are with an adult they actually know. Tell them to inform an adult if they’ve been bitten.

Keeping your dog from biting may not be easy, but there are some general guidelines:

  • Spay or neuter your dog – this can prevent aggressiveness in both sexes of dog
  • Keep your dog leashed
  • Keep an eye on your dog when the dog is out
  • Socialize the dog so that it can get used to other dogs, children and adults
  • Health: An exercised and well-fed dog is less likely to have a behavioral issue

What If You’re Bitten?

You should be sure to get the personal information of the dog’s owner and remember what the dog looks like, as you may well need to file a report or several about the incident.

  • Stay away from the dog to avoid further injury
  • Wash the wound with soap and water for several minutes
  • Seek medical attention, as you risk disease and infection otherwise
  • Report the dog bite to animal control

How Do You Prevent Being Bitten?

While there’s no foolproof way to avoid bites, as any dog can bite, though they are more likely to bite you if they feel threatened. A good general rule of thumb is to respect the animal’s space and life. Abusing a dog, teasing a dog, and many other disrespectful actions are likely to lead to the animal acting in self-defense.

  • Never hit, tease or pull dogs
  • Use caution when playing with a dog, especially chasing, wrestling or tug of war
  • Dog’s may feel threatened by a presented hand – do not present yours for a smell
  • Don’t disturb a mother dog with puppies
  • Don’t disturb a dog that is playing with a toy, sleeping or eating


Take care of yourself and look out for your children. Respect animals and their existence. If you’re bitten, get the information of the dog’s owner. Control your dog and keep it feeling safe and comfortable to avoid it acting out. Allow common sense to rule the day.

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