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What to Do If a Dog Attacks You

Dog attacks happen all across the country every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates more than 4,000,000 dog attacks and bites will happen annually, with many of these incidents resulting in serious injuries. With so many dog attacks happening each day in America, it helps for you to know some basics about what to do if a dog attacks you – like asserting yourself and standing your ground – just in case you encounter an aggressive canine.

How to Avoid a Dog Attack

Most – but not all – dogs will give you a few warnings that they are upset and looking to get into a fight with you. To protect yourself from a dog attack, it helps to avoid one altogether by knowing these warning signs, respecting the dog’s space, and staying away from them.

Dogs will usually show these signs of aggression before springing into an attack:

  • Growls and bared fangs
  • Loud and repeated barks
  • Raised hackles
  • Snapping in your direction
  • Wide-pawed stance
  • Stiff ears pointed at you

Upon noticing a dog showing aggressive behaviors to you, do not immediately turn and run away. Canines are predators and pack hunters, so showing your back and running can trigger an old predatory instinct that starts the attack. If you can see the dog’s owner, instruct them to take control of their dog. Do not try to hit the dog because this will most likely incite it.

If the dog’s owner is not around, then you should:

  • Stand your ground while standing slightly askew of the dog, so your side is shown slightly to it.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the dog, which can be seen as a challenge indicator.
  • Use an assertive tone to give the dog commands it likely recognizes from its owner, like “Sit” and “Stay.”
  • Make yourself appear larger by holding anything in your hands out in between yourself and the dog.

The dog might lose interest in you if you hold your ground in this way for a minute or so. Once it perceives that you won’t be an easy fight, it will want to leave the area. Allow it to go and try to leave in the opposite direction with deliberate, confident movements.

How to Defend Yourself in a Dog Attack

Following the most careful steps to deter a dog attack can’t guarantee that the dog won’t try to hurt you. Some dogs who have become an alpha in their households might even be prone to attack without any warning because they do not feel any warning is deserved. If it seems like a dog attack is imminent, then there are a few things you can do to try to protect yourself from severe injuries.

When a dog has gone beyond threats and is attacking you, try to:

  • Shout for help immediately but still in a stern, assertive voice. Once a dog is attacking you, there is little good to staying quiet because it has already found a reason to be incited.
  • Use some sort of decoy for it to bite onto, like one of your shoes, an empty sweater, or anything else nearby.
  • Keep your fists closed so you do not risk losing a finger to its snapping jaws.
  • Protect your face, throat, and chest with your arms, which might mean curling up during the attack. Out of the millions of annual dog attacks, there are usually only a dozen or so fatalities, and many of those fatalities are caused by injuries to the throat.
  • Get the dog to bite a less vulnerable body part. If a dog is about to bite you no matter what you do, then try to shove your forearm or shin into its mouth. The dog will have a more difficult time biting onto these tough bones but, more importantly, the lacerations caused by its bite are less likely to sever an artery, which can be fatal.
  • Ensure you are only bitten once. When a dog bites onto your forearm, for example, it has exhausted its most menacing form of attack. Rather than yanking your arm out of its mouth and causing worse lacerations, keep your bitten arm steady while using the other to grab onto the dog. It cannot bite you again if the first bite is not released. At this point, you might be able to overpower the dog by putting all of your body weight on it.

When the Dog Attack Ends

After a dog attack, call 911 if you have been seriously injured. Even if you were not seriously injured, you should alert the authorities that there is a dangerous animal on the loose. If a paramedic wants to take you to the emergency room due to your injuries, you should go with them. If you don’t need emergency medical care, then you still need to go to urgent care as soon as possible for treatments, which will probably include a rabies shot and tetanus shot.

Can you identify the dog’s owner? If so, get their contact information. If it is safe to do so, you should also photograph the dog. Take picture of your injuries and the location where you were attacked, too. You will be collecting the first piece of your dog bite claim to file later because, in most states, you have the right to sue a dog owner for injuries caused by their dog, even if the dog has not shown outward aggression to people before.

If you live in Orange County and ever need help with a dog bite claim, then come to Gill Law Group, PC. We can help you understand your rights and legal options after a vicious dog attack. Start by requesting a free case evaluation with our attorneys.