Dogs are wonderful companions who can also be great service animals for the disabled if they are trained properly, but stressed out dogs can attack even when they have great temperaments otherwise. Once of the best ways you can protect yourself and your children from the dangers of a dog attack is by learning to see when dogs they are familiar with exhibit stress, and then to use that to teach them the general signs of a dog attack. Those signs are not the only important thing to know, though. You also need to understand how to best extricate yourself from the situation if there is an attack.
Signs a dog may attack
If you see an animal that is exhibiting any of these signs, you need to be wary:
- Hackles raised
- Guttural barks or growls
- Rigidity or freezing in place
- Lunging or charging, even without contact
- Showing teeth
- "Muzzle punching" by striking you with the nose
- Ears tucked back and/or tail rigid and alert
If a dog displays any of these behaviors, you need to make sure you keep yourself clear of any possible attack. If the dog is on a leash or restraint, this can be as simple as staying out of range. If not, it might involve some careful body language.
When you encounter an aggressive dog
The most important thing to remember is do not turn and run. Dogs respond to sudden movements quickly, and furtively turning to run may incite an attack. Instead, back slowly away from the animal while facing it. That way, you can tell if its behavior is about to change. If you have children or anyone else with you, try to keep them behind you while you maintain communication with the animal. If you can, avoid direct eye contact, and remember to keep your pace even and slow as you back away.
In the event of an injury
You may have a claim for damages if you or someone in your family is injured in a dog bite incident. If that has happened to you, the best way to understand whether or not you have a claim for damages is to talk to a personal injury lawyer with dog bite experience. The right lawyer will be able to provide advice that is pertinent to your case specifically, and that will let you know whether or not you should move forward. In the event you choose to pursue damages, that lawyer can also start the process for you.