Dog bites can happen suddenly and unexpectedly in Maryland, and even small and seemingly harmless dogs can be provoked in the right circumstances. While this sometimes happens because of a lack of training on the part of the animal’s owner, some bites can be prevented with proper precautions.
The American Veterinary Medical Association states that dog bites most often happen when children are interacting with unfamiliar dogs. Medical attention is required for nearly 20 percent of dog bites.
Tips for children
As children are the most common victims of dog bites, parents and teachers should share these tips with them. The American Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises that children should never try to outrun a dog if it begins chasing them. Often, this scenario can be avoided if a child stands still and avoids eye contact with the animal until it loses interest.
Children should avoid approaching stray dogs who are off-leash and shouldn’t try to pet dogs who are behind fences or locked in cars. If a dog is supervised by its owner and a child wants to pet it, he or she should always ask the owner permission first.
Understanding dog body language
Dogs may be conflicted in uncomfortable situations and may not always show one form of body language at a time. With that being said, anxious or scared dogs may turn away, roll on its back, flatten its ears or put its tail between its legs. Avoid cornering such animals.
On the other hand, when a dog is aggressive, it will growl, bark and show its teeth. It may take a stiff stance and raise the hair on its back. Dogs showing this behavior should be avoided.