If you plan to spend some of your summer afternoons at Scarborough Bluffs Park or another popular outdoor destination, chances are high that you’re going to encounter a dog or two during your outings. Most people have good control of their pets, keep their dogs on leashes, and have friendly pups who would just love to get a belly rub and a treat. Unfortunately, not everyone has their canines under control. Dog bites are the most common animal-related injury we deal with as a Scarborough injury law firm. If you’re concerned for your own well-being or for your family, here are some tips to keep in mind when you see dogs out and about.
Never Approach a Dog Without an Owner Nearby
This one may seem obvious, but there are a surprising number of people who willingly bypass this rule. Sometimes kids get overly excited and forget to be mindful of strange dogs, but more often adults think that they are exempt from the rule because they’re older and feel more confident in their ability to handle animals. A dog that doesn’t know you may feel threatened when you approach it without its owner around for protection and guidance, and can lash out at you if you breach its personal space and try to pet it. Not only that, but it’s disrespectful to the owner of the animal to pet a dog without getting express permission first.
Pay Attention to Body Language and Watch Children Closely
There are many times that, although you be able to make a legal claim that the attack was unprovoked, dog bites are preventable. It’s important to pay attention to the body language of unfamiliar dogs, whether they belong to a stranger on the street or to the friend that you’re visiting. A tense body and tail, wide eyes, and pulled back ears are all indicators of a stressed out canine who is likely to lash out. Keep an eye on kids and make sure you’re always on hand to sweep them away if you start to notice anxious behavior in a dog. It’s better to get your child out of the situation preemptively than to let things escalate to an attack that could cause physical and emotional damage to your child.
Do Not Approach a Dog, Let Them Come to You
If you or your child has been given permission to pet a dog, remember to let them come to you first. Hold out your palm and allow them to walk up to you and get to know your scent. Observe their body language and only continue if the dog is relaxed, comfortable, and happy. If the dog shows signs of nervousness, stop and give it some space.
Approaching a dog can be perceived as an attack and may cause them to lash out, so let them get to know you at their own pace.Don’t Run or Scream Around Unfamiliar DogsDon’t let your kids run wild around dogs that can attack them. Running and screaming can trigger a dog’s instinct to chase and hunt, and even “play” can become dangerous when a big dog doesn’t understand how to treat small children. Always remind your kids to exercise caution around new animals.