How to Behave Around a Dog and Avoid Getting Bitten

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How to Behave Around a Dog and Avoid Getting Bitten

by Mara Bateman

Dogs, cats, farm and wild animals (especially foxes, raccoons, bats, and skunks) are some of the mammals that can transmit rabies and other potentially deadly diseases to humans through their bites. But of this pack, it is ironic that our beloved pet dogs account for many of the bites people suffer. Dog bites send hundreds of thousands of people to the emergency room each year. Records show that every year, some 20 North Americans die from dog bites since reporting began in 1925. Others, many of them children, are seriously mangled. This is the reason why owners should choose a breed carefully. Male dogs can be neutered to subdue their aggressive tendencies. People who are likely to encounter dogs, such as your ever-prompt mail carriers, may want to arm themselves with a dog-repellent spray, sold in many sporting-good stores.

If you have a dog, or happen to be near a strange one, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind to avoid being bitten.

1) Let a dog see and sniff you before you pet it.

2) Don't bother a dog who is eating, sleeping, or nursing.

3) If an unfamiliar dog approaches, don't run. Instead, stand still until something else catches his attention. Then turn sideways, avoiding eye contact, and slowly move away.

4) Avoid staring at a strange dog's eyes; the animal will interpret this as an aggression and may attack you.

5) If you encounter an agitated dog, avert your eyes and back away slowly. Shouting a familiar command, such as "Hee!" or "Sit!", can sometimes stop the dog.

6) If a dog attacks and knocks you down, curl into a ball and lie still, with your arms and hands covering your head. Do not scream; doing so may further excite the dog.

Remember that dogs that attack without provocation are more likely to have rabies. As an owner of one, you should have your dog vaccinated every one to three years. If you are bitten by a strange dog, do not try to capture the animal; instead, notify your local animal-control department. Or you may need to contact the owner to find out if the dog has had a rabies vaccination. If your doctor determines that you need rabies shots, don't panic: the old series of painful stomach shots has been replaced by a more moderate therapy.

Common sense goes a long way toward preventing unnecessary encounters. The first basic rule is never to approach a strange dog, more especially if the beast is drooling, foaming at the mouth, or showing signs of nervousness or aggression.

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