In Virginia, an estimated 1,300 children are treated in the ER for injuries related to dog bites.  Most of these injuries can be prevented by teaching children the proper way to interact with dogs.  Here are some basic tips for anyone to follow when around animals.

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog
  • Don't run past a dog, even on your bike or skates; this may intice the dog to run after or give chase which can cause them to become excited or aggressive.
  • If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog, remain motionless so that the dog does not feel threatened.  Stay still until the dog leaves.
  • Do not scream if you feel threated by a dog.  Remain calm, speak softly and firmly and avoid eye contact.  Do not turn and run as that will give the dog reason to give chase.
  • If you are knocked down by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still
  • Always ask an owner if you can pet their dog before approaching.
  • If you are given permission to pet a dog, hold out your hand below their head and let them sniff to become familiar with your sent.  Once they are done smelling you can slowly move to pet the head.
  • If a dog seems skiddish when you attempt to pet, back off and give them space.  Learn to read their body language.
  • Even a dog that is wagging its tail should be approached with caution.  Animals can react defensively in an instance if they feel threated.
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Never disturbe a dog that is sleeping, eating, chewing a bone or nursing puppies.
  • Avoid eye contact with unfamiliar dogs.
  • If bitten, immediately report it to an adult.

Remember, serious dog bites should always be reported to the local health department or your local animal control office.

Do you have any other tips to add to this list?



Andrew Thomas
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Civil litigation attorney in Virginia and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
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