America is dog crazy. If we are not careful, dogs may outnumber humans in the near future, which might not actually be a bad thing! With hundreds of thousands of dogs out there, it is important to know how to act around dogs you don’t know. It is also good to know what steps you need to take if an unfortunate incident like a dog bite does occur.
Always Approach with Caution
The number one rule for interacting with a strange dog, is to approach with caution. Always ask the owner if it is okay to pet their dog. Don’t take anything for granted, even if the dog initially seems friendly. After receiving permission to interact with the dog, approach it slowly, or preferably, allow it to approach you. Watch for signs of aggression. When petting the dog, avoid the head and neck area. If signs of aggression do occur, back away slowly and avoid eye contact.
Dealing with Dog Bites
Dog bites can occur even if you take all of the proper safety precautions. If you are bitten, you need to clean the wound with soap and water and contact a doctor immediately. If the dog is up to date on its shots, there should be little need for concern. If the dog is not up to date, or you are not familiar with the animal, you may want to receive a rabies shot. It is always best to consult with your physician. Depending on the severity of the wound, you may even need stitches. You should carefully monitor the wound as it heals. If it is healing slowly, or shows any signs of irritation, you should contact your physician again.
If you are the victim of a dog bite, you should contact a qualified legal professional at the earliest opportunity. Even if the bite was minor, you want to protect yourself and explore all your options.