According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, including Pennsylvania, receive medical treatment for dog bites each year. The agency further reports that approximately half of all victims of dog bites are children, with senior citizens suffering the second most dog bite injuries. While certain breeds are often professed to be dangerous, you might not realize that a dog’s circumstances, behavior and history determines the likelihood of it biting someone.
Not all dog bites result from attacks as everyday activities like pet owners interacting and children playing with dogs can lead to bites — often unintentional. However, even the cutest, cuddliest, sweetest dog can bite if provoked. You can protect your children by teaching them how to interact with dogs.
Reasons Why Dogs Bite
Regardless of breed, size, age or gender, any dog can bite — usually in reaction to stress caused by any of the following circumstances:
- If the dog wants to protect or defend its territory
- If the dog feels threatened
- If someone startles or scares the dog
- If the dog wants to protect its puppies, toys or food
- If the dog is in poor health or suffering pain from an injury
- If someone teases or provokes the dog
Dog bites can also be unintentional during the excitement of rough play, but even those bites can become infected.
Teach Both Children And Puppies Early
You might prevent dog bites to your children and others by teaching your pet and your children from a young age to socialize and feel at ease with each other. Train the dog to be comfortable on a leash for those walks in the park and teach your children how to be responsible pet owners.
When And How To Approach A Dog
You might avoid dog bites if you and your children learn how and when it is safe to approach a dog. Interacting or petting dogs in the following situations might be risky if the dog is:
- Behind a fence
- Not with its owner
- Sick, injured or old
- Eating or sleeping
- Protecting its puppies and seems anxious in your presence
- Barking or growling
- Enjoying a treat or playing with a toy
- Nervous and tries to hide itself
It might be smart to teach your children how to interpret the body language of dogs. Like people, dogs can communicate their fears without words by using body gestures and postures.
However, you or a loved one might misread a dog’s body language and end up the victim of an unprovoked dog attack. If such an incident occurs due to the negligence of a dog owner, you might have grounds to pursue financial relief because pet owners in Pennsylvania have strict liability. With the support and guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney, a civil lawsuit might bring maximum monetary compensation for physical disfigurement, emotional problems and economic damages caused by an attack by an unattended dog.