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Lowering aggression: How to prevent dog bites

What are some good ways to prevent dog bites? What can you do in a situation where a dog is being aggressive that may make the outcome better for you or your family?

The Centers for Disease Control report that around 4.5 million dog bites take place each year within the United States. Furthermore, around one out of every five bites becomes infected, causing pain and injury to the person who was bitten.

A dog bite can be preventable, especially if the animal is well controlled. Those most at risk of being bitten include children and men, so these groups in particular should know the ways to prevent bites. It's true that over half the dog bites that take place are caused by a dog in the home or a dog that is familiar with you, so it's important to know the basic safety tips to recognize an uncomfortable animal or one that is being too aggressive.

When a dog is unfamiliar, it's important to be still. Don't run up to or greet the dog, as that can be a sign of aggression. Instead, be still and allow the dog to approach you. If a dog knocks you over, cover your face, ears and neck while curling into a ball. Finally, tell someone about the stray dog. This might be an adult if a child was attacked or approached, or it may be a local law enforcement agency or animal control facility.

Make sure not to approach unfamiliar dogs, encourage soft, friendly play with your pets, and remember to stay calm. If you turn your body to the side when a dog approaches, wait for the dog to back off, and avoid eye contact, you can make yourself seem less like a threat. If the dog still attacks, the owner of that dog is held responsible and may be liable for your injuries and the costs associated with your recovery.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Preventing Dog Bites," accessed Feb. 16, 2016

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