Be polite and pay attention to body language.
How do you avoid getting bit by a dog? Start by being polite and respecting the dog’s personal space. Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who’s tied or confined behind a fence or in a car. Don’t pet a dog—even your own—without letting them see and sniff you first.
Don’t disturb a dog while they are sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or caring for puppies. Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn’t know you may see you as an intruder or a threat.
Pay attention to the dog’s body language
Put a safe amount of space between yourself and a dog if you see the following signals (illustrated in the video above) indicating that the dog is uncomfortable and might feel the need to bite:
- tensed body
- stiff tail
- pulled back head and/or ears
- furrowed brow
- eyes rolled so the whites are visible
- flicking tongue
- intense stare
- backing away
When putting space between yourself and a dog who might bite, never turn your back on them and run away. A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase you.
What to do if you think a dog may attack
If you are approached by a dog who may attack you, follow these steps:
- Resist the impulse to scream and run away.
- Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
- Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until they are out of sight.
- If the dog does attack, “feed” them your jacket, purse, bicycle or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
- If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless.
- Try not to scream or roll around.
What to do if you’re bitten by a dog
If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, try not to panic.
- Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
- Contact your physician for additional care and advice.
- Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency.
Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including their owner’s name and the address where they live. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw them, whether you’ve seen them before and in which direction they went.