As much as we love them, dogs aren’t always a man’s best friend. Dogs can be sweet and gentle creatures and family members, but they are still animals. Animals can’t tell you they’re on edge in any way other than body language. They can be unpredictable even if you’ve known them for years if they become overstimulated, injured, scared or sick.
Here are some tips on recognizing dog body language and what to do if you get bit.
Signs Of Aggression
Subtlety isn’t a dog’s strong suit. There are physical cues if they intend to bite. Aggression is most likely from dogs you don’t know well, but if you see these signs in your animal or that of a friend, something is wrong. Many of these signs stem from a dog’s fear, which leads to acts of aggression as they try to defend themselves.
- Intense Stare: Dogs may watch for an opening to attack or signs you intend to trap or injure them.
- Stiff or Tucked Tail: If a dog welcomes your approach, the tail is high and wagging, not rigid with aggression or tucked with fear or anxiety.
- Exposing Their Teeth: When dogs expose their teeth, it is a warning, so if your dog’s lips pull back, it’s time to give them some space.
- Hackles Raised: When your dog’s fur stands up along the spine near their shoulders, they are likely highly agitated.
- Backing Away: A friendly dog will approach you. A timid dog may shy away but could circle back if you are gentle and patient. A dog may be making a last-ditch effort not to fight if you see them backing away. Whether a dog is timid or aggressive, moving toward them when they are backing away is a mistake. Back off and let them come to you if they want to.
- Facial Expression: Have you ever seen dogs lower their brow and flick their tongues in and out? It may look like they’re eating peanut butter, but they’re baring their teeth while they do it.
- White Around The Iris: Dog’s eyes widen with intense emotion, just like human eyes. If you see the whites around their eyes, it’s time to step back.
Additional Safety Tips
A calm and happy dog can turn aggressive if they are cornered, startled, or threatened. Here are some additional tips.
- Don’t Startle A Sleeping Dog: A sleeping dog doesn’t know it’s you immediately. If you startle them, they may defend themselves first and feel bad for biting you after. Best to call for them rather than physically startle them into wakefulness. Hence, the term, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
- Never Leave Children Alone With A Strange Animal: Dogs can be incredibly patient with children they claim as their own, though even a patient dog has its limits. A friend’s dog won’t be as patient and can defend itself if it feels crowded or annoyed by little hands pulling hair, ears, or tails. A dog might also react if your child tries to pick it up and carry it around without supporting its body well.
- Give Them Space in Sensitive Times: Dogs can get aggressive when caring for pups or feeling protective of their family members. Give them the space they need to protect what is theirs.
What To Do If The Dog Is Aggressive
If you see the aggression warning signs, there are things you can do to de-escalate the situation.
- Stay still and remain calm. Dogs read body language better than you do. If you’re tense, they might assume you mean to attack.
- Turning sideways sends a signal that you aren’t looking to attack. Keep track of the dog’s position, but don’t stare into their eyes like you’re challenging them.
- Move slowly rather than risk startling them into an unnecessary attack.
- Don’t turn your back on an aggressive dog, ever. Back away slowly while watching them for signs of attack.
- Move anything between you, like a purse or jacket, but move slowly. If the dog attacks, it can attack the item and not you.
- If the dog attacks, curl up in the fetal position. Use your knees to protect your belly and your arms to protect your head, especially your neck, face, and ears. Tuck your chin to hide your throat and keep your hands fisted to avoid losing a finger.
What To Do After Injury
Getting bitten is painful, traumatic, and could be life-threatening. Do what you must to protect yourself and your loved ones and remove yourselves from the danger zone. If there’s heavy bleeding or facial trauma that could interfere with breathing, or if the victim loses consciousness, call 911 immediately.
Once everyone is safe, it’s time to deal with the aftermath. The dog’s owner is responsible for any damage it causes unless you purposely provoked the dog, trespassed, or threatened their family. Part of that responsibility may be paying for your medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, and other related expenses incurred by the attack. Here is the best way to proceed.
Document The Attack
- Get everyone’s name, including the name of the owner and whoever was responsible for the dog at the time of the incident, like a dog walker.
- Call animal control if the animal isn’t with an owner or caretaker. They can stop the animal from hurting other people and possibly find the owner with a microchip if they don’t have an identifying collar.
- Ask for vaccination records and the dog’s name, and write down the dog’s description.
- Make a detailed report of the incident so you don’t have to try and remember details later if it goes to a settlement or court trial.
- Document injuries, the scene of the incident, and the dog itself by taking photographs if possible.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t leave in an ambulance, go to the doctor’s office ASAP. If the dog is rabid, rabies treatment is time sensitive. If you don’t have immunization records, they may give you the vaccine to be on the safe side. They will also flush the wound to prevent infection, stitch up any injuries that need additional attention, and deal with other damage like broken bones.
Report The Dog Bite To The Public Health Office
The city needs to know if a dog poses a health hazard. The dog may have bitten someone else or have shown a pattern of dangerous behavior. By letting the authorities know, you could be saving another person from becoming a dog bite victim.
Contact An Accident Injury Attorney In Las Vegas
Animal bites are complex. The dog owner could lie to avoid paying your medical bills or to save their dog if they are worried they might be put down. However, the dog owner is responsible for seeing you get proper medical care if they didn’t control their dog and you got hurt.
An accident lawyer familiar with Nevada laws can significantly improve your chances of a positive outcome so those expenses don’t come out of pocket. You can find an attorney by typing in “accident attorney near me” or by clicking HERE for a free consultation regarding the specifics of your case.