How to Safely Interact with Unfamiliar Dogs
Colorado is an extremely dog friendly state, and it’s common to encounter dogs just about anywhere – from hiking trails to restaurant patios to local parks. While it’s understandable that you may want to engage with a cute dog you cross paths with, it’s important to do so safely. This is especially true if you’re unfamiliar with dog behavior and body language.
While most dogs are extremely friendly and affectionate, any dog can be triggered and become aggressive if you don’t approach them properly. The following tips will help you interact with unfamiliar dogs safely and reduce the risk of being injured in a dog bite attack.
Ask the Owner’s Permission
It’s always important to ask the owner’s permission before approaching an unfamiliar dog. This is critical for safety, as it will provide the owner with an opportunity to let you know whether the dog is friendly and receptive to being approached by strangers. This conversation will also allow the owner to explain any behavioral issues or special needs the dog may have.
If the owner says it’s safe to interact with the dog, always approach slowly and calmly to prevent the dog from becoming startled. In addition, avoid direct eye contact, since dogs may perceive this as a threat to their safety.
Assess the Dog’s Body Language
Always pay attention to a dog’s body language when you approach. If the dog is relaxed, it will exhibit signs such as a loose body, relaxed ears and wagging tail. This type of body language indicates the dog is likely to feel comfortable interacting with you.
If the dog is feeling scared or nervous, it will likely exhibit signs such as:
- A stiff body
- Baring teeth
- A tail tucked between its legs
When a dog displays this type of body language, it’s an indication that the dog may be prone to act aggressively at this moment. Therefore, you shouldn’t approach the dog since doing so may trigger an attack if the dog feels frightened or threatened.
Let the Dog Approach You Before Petting It
Never reach out to pet the dog, even if it is displaying relaxed body language. This may be perceived as a threat, especially if you make any sudden movements that can potentially startle the dog. Instead, it’s best to give the dog an opportunity to get to know you first. You can do this by extending your hand in a relaxed manner and letting the dog sniff it.
If the dog shows signs of interest and remains relaxed, you can pet it. However, if the dog doesn’t show signs of interest or appears to be frightened, do not continue to engage with the dog.
Pet the Dog Properly
The area where you pet the dog can potentially impact its reaction. While every dog has its own preferences on where it likes to be pet, there are some areas that most dogs typically enjoy. These include its:
Avoid petting the following areas since many dogs may find these uncomfortable:
- Top of its head
- Behind the ears
- Around the muzzle
It’s always best to ask the owner where the dog likes to be pet. This will help you avoid creating a situation where the dog becomes uncomfortable and starts acting aggressively. When petting the dog, use an open hand and keep your movements slow and gentle. Petting a dog too hard or too fast can make the dog uncomfortable and increase the chances that it may become aggressive.
Always pay attention to the dog’s body language while you’re petting it. If the dog is wagging its tail or leaning into your hand, it’s generally a sign that it feels comfortable with you and is enjoying the interaction. However, if the dog starts to fidget, pull away or growl, these are signs of discomfort, and you should stop petting the dog.
What to Do if You’re Attacked by an Unfamiliar Dog
Even if you take all the precautions discussed above, there is always a chance that an unfamiliar dog may attack if it doesn’t feel comfortable. If you’re injured in a dog bite by an unfamiliar dog, make sure to take the following steps:
- Ask the dog’s owner for their contact information and whether the dog is current on all its vaccinations, including rabies vaccinations.
- Clean the wound right away using soap and water and apply pressure to stop the bleeding. Apply an antibiotic ointment if needed and cover the wound with a sterile bandage.
- Seek medical attention at once to get the wound evaluated. Receiving prompt treatment will minimize the risk of infection, nerve damage or other complications. If the dog isn’t current on its vaccinations, you may need a rabies shot as a precaution.
- Report the dog bite attack to your local animal control organization.
Pushchak Law Can Help After a Dog Bite
If you’ve been injured in a dog bite attack, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your damages. Colorado adheres to strict liability in dog bite cases. This means the dog’s owner is held liable for your damages even if the dog has no history of aggression and the owner didn’t act negligently. At Pushchak Law, we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Brian Pushchak has made dog bite cases a primary focus of his practice. He understands the complex laws governing these cases, and he knows how to demonstrate the full extent of your damages. This will give you the edge you need when seeking to maximize the value of your compensation.
You’ll benefit from Mr. Pushchak’s unique Informed Decisions™ Approach focused on helping you achieve the best possible outcome to your case. With our Informed Decisions™ Approach, you remain in control of the entire process. Mr. Pushchak will listen carefully to your story and discuss your goals for the outcome of your case in detail. After answering all of your questions, he’ll recommend the best strategy to achieve your desired outcome. You’ll always have final say on the approach used for your case, ensuring Mr. Pushchak remains aligned with your goals every step of the way.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Pushchak Law serves clients in Denver and the surrounding areas of Colorado.
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