Avoiding Dog Bites

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Avoiding Dog Bites


Sometimes man’s best friend will bite. In addition to causing pain or an injury, dog bites can become infected, putting the bite victim at risk for illness or in rare cases death.

Avoiding Dog Bites

Bites are scary

There are about 4.5 million people bitten by dogs every year.

♦ Young children 5 to 9 years old are most likely to bitten by dogs, with boys being bitten more often than girls.

Dog bites and other dog-related injuries to people accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners-liability claims paid out in 2016.

Although the idea of being bitten by a dog is scary, it doesn’t mean you need to avoid dogs completely. Just be aware of the risks and learn how to enjoy being around dogs without getting bitten.

Know the risks

Children are more likely than adults to be bitten by a dog, and when they are, the injuries can be more severe.

♦ Over half of dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to us.

Having a dog in the household is linked to a higher likelihood of being bitten than not having a dog.

As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten.

• Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.

Among adults, men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog.

How to avoid dog bites

• Always ask if it is okay to pet someone else’s dog before reaching out to pet the dog.

• When approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain motionless (“be still like a tree”).

• If a dog knocks you over, curl into a ball with your head tucked and your hands over your ears and neck.

• Immediately let an adult know about any stray dogs or dogs that are behaving strangely.


• Don’t approach an unfamiliar dog.

• Don’t run from a dog.

• Don’t panic or make loud noises.

• Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.

• Don’t pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.

• Don’t encourage your dog to play aggressively.

• Don’t let small children play with a dog unsupervised.

What to do if an unfamiliar dog approaches

• Stop! Stay still and be calm.

• Do not panic or make loud noises.

• Avoid direct eye contact with the dog.

• Say “No” or “Go Home” in a firm, deep voice.

• Stand with the side of your body facing the dog. Facing a dog directly can appear aggressive to the dog. Instead, keep your body turned partially or completely to the side.

• Slowly raise your hands to your neck, with your elbows in.

• Wait for the dog to pass or slowly back away.

Any dog can bite, but if you understand the risks for dog bites and know how to protect yourself, you will reduce your likelihood of getting sick or injured.


Source: NIH, CDC

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