Last year, Dog Fancy magazine named Austin one of the most dog-friendly cities in the country. As it stands, there are over 200 local restaurants that allow patrons to dine with their fur-family by their side. There are also a plethora of off-leash areas where dog owners can let their pets run and play with abandon. But as Austin’s population rises, so do the reports of dog bites. One study conducted by DogBite.org suggested that the adopted no-kill policies correlated with a rise in dog bites, though the city responded showing that the reports of dog bites have been increasing even before adopting no-kill policies, that the upward trend correlates more finely with Austin’s overt and consistent population growth. More people, more dogs, more dog bites seems to be the pattern. But with proper education of both dog owners and people interacting with dogs in public, we can help reduce this number.
Best Practices in Approaching a Dog
Whether greeting a friend’s dog at their house or a stranger’s dog at the dog park, it is important to know how to read a dog’s behavior to understand if they feel threatened. You wouldn’t run up to a stranger you just met and start rubbing their face, so you shouldn’t do it to a new dog. New dogs should be approached with respect and politeness. Allow the dog to see and sniff you first. Pay attention to their body language. The humane society suggests looking for these signs to tell if the dog is uncomfortable and vulnerable to biting:
- tensed body
- stiff tail
- pulled back head and/or ears
- furrowed brow
- eyes rolled so the whites are visible
- flicking tongue
- intense stare
- backing away
If the dog exhibits any of these signs, you should slowly back away. Do not turn and run; the dog’s instinct will be to chase you.
Teaching Children Best Practices
It is of vital importance that parents teach their children about how to approach dogs. Many dogs in public are very friendly and are apt to smother your child with kisses, but only after they are properly introduced. Children can be impulsive, especially when it comes to things that are fluffy, and might instinctively run up to a dog to start petting it. Parents should always ask the owner if their child can pet the dog and subsequently reinforce how to respectfully and appropriately approach the dog.
Dog bites rarely involve a dog unknown to the family. According to the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 95% of dog bites in children occur with a dog the family knows.Help your child understand how to read the behavior of your family’s fur-friends. When they know how to safely approach a new dog, there is less risk of a child’s injury from a new dog.
Breaking up a Dog Fight
Sometimes just dogs playing together can look and sound scary to the owner. And sometimes, what started as just dogs being dogs can turn into actual aggression. But if your dog does end up in a fight with another dog, you should NEVER try to get in the middle of the fighting dogs. Do not try to grab a collar or separate the dogs by yourself. Yelling or screaming at the dogs usually only exacerbates the aggressive atmosphere and can worsen the situation. Put some other object between the dogs, like opening up a long umbrella or throwing a heavy blanket over the fighting dogs. Sometimes spraying water from a hose in the face of the aggressor can help end the fight. As a last resort, two people can simultaneously pull the back legs of both dogs away from each other, though this can also be dangerous and only used as a last resort if one of the dogs is dangerously injured.
Be a Responsible Owner
Man’s best friend can have a rough day too. There are times when dog behavior can be cute and endearing, but other times when it can destructive and aggressive. In order to solve aggressive behavior, it’s important to know where a dog’s aggression is stemming from.
3 Reasons Your Dog May Be Acting Out
It doesn’t take much to push an aggressive dog to attack or bite a stranger or a family member. Luckily, there are strategies to help train an aggressive dog to be friendly and sociable.
There are several reasons why your dog could be expressing such behavior.
- Defensiveness: If you scold your dog for bad behavior, it’s best to leave him alone after he retreats. If you go after your dog when you’ve already reprimanded him once, he is likely to feel threatened and may bite.
- Territorial One of the reasons we like living with dogs is because they are known for protecting their territory, which can include our home, our possessions, and us. However, this type of aggression can go too far. Behavior can be as minor as jumping or as serious as biting.It’s important to assert your dominance over your dog. If you have dominance over your dog, he’ll feel secure and calm when you feel secure and calm.
- Pain: An injured dog knows he is vulnerable. Even the most minor situations can make a vulnerable dog feel the need to lash out to protect himself. When the pain is obvious, be ready for aggressive behavior.
Aggressive behavior isn’t something that should be ignored or laughed off. If your dog is becoming noticeably more aggressive, get him or her to the vet immediately.
If You Are Injured By A Dog
- If you are bitten by a dog, immediately wash out the wound with soap and water and monitor the wound for any infection. If serious, seek medical care immediately. Visiting an experienced health professional will reduce time spent recovering, scarring, or blood loss. A victim of a serious dog bite often needs stitches.Getting medical attention is necessary for a full recovery, and may also strengthen your case if you choose to seek representation by an experienced personal injury lawyer.
- Know the role of Dog owner’s responsibility. Under Texas law, a dog that bites must be quarantined for 10-days from the time of the bite. The quarantine might be allowed to happen at the owner’s home, a licensed dog care facility, or veterinarian’s office.
- Find out more about the dog owner’s responsibility, Texas’ “One Bite Rule” and whether dog bites are usually covered by the owner’s homeowner insurance at our Personal Injury Dog Bites page.
- If you have experienced a serious dog bite or a facial dog bite, call McMinn Law Firm today for a free consultation of your case. Jason McMinn and Justin McMinn are experienced in representing dog bite victims. View the McMinn Law Firm Dog Bite Practice Areas page.
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