How to Handle a Dog Attack

dogNEW YORK (RUSHPRNEWS) AUGUST 6, 2008–It may have happened to you before: you’re walking or cycling through the neighborhood when suddenly an unfamiliar dog crosses your path. The dog begins barking, growling; maybe it even charges you. So much for man’s best friend.Even small dogs can be threatening if they’re worked up, and just about any dog can inflict a painful bite. In the US alone, nearly 5 million people are attacked by dogs per year, and 1,000 people go to emergency rooms per day as a result of a dog attack; many of them are children, and about half of them have been bitten in the face.[1] If a dog attacks you or your child, your response can be the difference between walking away unharmed or being injured by the dog, and perhaps even be the difference between life and death.

[edit] StepsTake precautions against dog attacks. Most dog attacks are the result of human provocation or simple mistakes that can easily be avoided.
Avoid making eye contact with the dog. Dogs perceive eye contact as a challenge and a threat. Look slightly down or aside of the dog, but keep him in your vision.
Avoid smiling at the dog. You may be putting on a friendly face, but an aggressive dog sees you baring your teeth for a fight.

Do not taunt a dog, even if you think it can’t reach you.Dogs that are chained or tethered to a stationary object for extended periods of time are more likely to be aggressive, so do not come within their reach.[2]
Look for warning signs. Most dogs are not aggressive but rather just curious or defending what they perceive as their territory. It is important to be able to tell if a dog is just playing or is being truly aggressive. While some breeds have been singled out as being particularly vicious (pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes[3]) any mid-size and large dog breed can be dangerous (poodles, terriers[4]) so do not ignore warning signs because you think a certain breed is harmless or friendly.
If the dog approaches you with its head held high or low, it is probably not going to attack. A dog whose head is level means business.
A loping gait means the dog is playful and checking you out. An even, steady run means business.
Remain calm. There’s some truth to the adage that dogs and other animals can sense fear. If you panic, you may make the dog feel more confident in his attack, or you may appear threatening to the dog. Neither of these is a good situation.
Control the situation. Remember that most dogs are in subjugation to humans. A commanding “Down!” or “Go Home!” may stop an attack momentarily, giving you time to back away.
Don’t run. Running away can awaken the dog’s instinct to chase and catch animals, and he may pursue you vigorously even if its initial intent was just playful. In addition, you won’t be able to outrun a dog if you’re on foot. Even if you are on a bicycle you usually will not be able to outrun a dog.
Hold your position. Dogs have short attention spans. Often after some barking, the dog will lose interest and go away. Do not appear threatening to the dog, and don’t open your hands and arms up to a bite by extending them. Keep your fingers curled into fists to avoid getting them bitten. The dog may come quite close, even sniffing you, without actually biting.
Curl into a fetal position if there is no way to avoid the physical attack.[5] Use your arms and hands to protect your face and neck, and curl up in a ball. Remain motionless and don’t scream. Dogs will almost always lose interest in you if you remain still.[6] Wait until the dog leaves the area before getting up.
If the dog is biting, the last thing you want to do is struggle or pull away, as this can cause open, torn wounds. If you stay still and protect your ears, face, chest, and throat, the dog will only be able to inflict puncture wounds on areas of your body that have thicker skin.[7]
If the dog is biting someone else, do not pull the victim away for the very same reason. Try to force your arm in the dog’s mouth. Push your arm in forcefully towards the throat to minimize damage to yourself.[8] If you have time, wrap your arm in a shirt or jacket first.
If the dog attacks your dog, let go of the leash and do not interfere. Learn how to break up a dog fight.
Back away slowly and leave the area once the dog loses interest in you. Staying calm and stationary can be a real test of your nerves in this situation, but it’s the best thing to do as long as the dog isn’t actually biting you.

After an Attack
Attend to any wounds. If you do get bitten, be sure to take care of any wounds promptly, as even minor bites can cause infection. See a medical professional promptly if you suffer serious wounds or if you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past 5 years. Also see the warning below about rabies.
Apply gentle pressure to stop minor bleeding. Use a clean cloth or sterile gauze pad. If bleeding is serious or if it won’t stop after several minutes of applying pressure, seek medical attention.
Wash the wound thoroughly. Use warm water and soap (preferably antibacterial soap) to gently cleanse the wound.
Dress the wound. Use a sterile band-aid (for very small cuts) or sterile bandages.
Apply fresh bandages and apply antibiotic ointment at least 1 or 2 times a day.
Look closely for signs of infection, including redness, warmth, increasing tenderness, or oozing pus. See a doctor if any of these symptoms arise.
Contact the owner and animal control authorities. In order to prevent such incidents in the future, as well as to determine if the animal has rabies, you should notify the local police or animal control department promptly. Many states have laws holding owners responsible for the actions of their dogs.

[edit] TipsTeach these steps to children in case they ever encounter an aggressive dog.
These instructions are for dealing with one dog, and may work when dealing with two. If you’re attacked by a pack of dogs, however, the pack mentality will call for a different response, which is beyond the scope of this article.
If cycling, dismount and keep the bicycle between you and the dog. This will create a barrier of protection. If a dog is attacking you (vs, just barking) use the bicycle as a weapon to strike the dog. Holding the bicycle by the stem (handlebars) and the seat, swing the bicycle tire to hit the dog. But don’t lose your grip as you will have lost a valuable defensive tool.
If the dog is lunging at you, wave a cloth, helmet or other object away from your head. The dog will be more likely to lunge at the cloth than your face or neck.

[edit] WarningsNote that while in some parts of the world rabies is more common, it is quite rare in the U.S. and most of the developed world. There is no rabies at all in the U.K. That said, if the dog appears sick or if he falls ill within 10 days of the incident, the dog should be tested for rabies immediately. If the dog tests positive you must go through a series of rabies shots. If the dog cannot be found after the incident, you should see a doctor to determine whether you should get the shots. The rabies shot sequence, if it is necessary, should be begun as soon as possible after the bite.
Don’t hit the dog on the head. Dogs have very thick skulls. You will only make the dog angry.[9] The only place to hit a dog that will have an effect is across the back of the neck near the base of the skull or across the sensitive nose. This may not be useful in self defense but may be used if a partner is being attacked. You may be better off pushing the stick across the dog’s mouth if it tries to bite you. Use good judgment.
Every dog is different, and dogs will react in sometimes unpredictable ways. These tips will help you escape danger in most situations, but you may have to adapt to an attack.
Don’t use pepper spray or mace. The odds of hitting dog in the face before it can attack you are very small. Even if you can hit the dog in the face, you are unlikely to stop the dog. You are more likely just to make the dog angry.


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