With the better weather here, it means spending more time outdoors, including with our furry friends. As much as dogs can be loving, fun to pet and play with, dogs may still react with a bite or attack. Even the sweetest and most friendly dogs have bad days. Dogs have a tendency to bite when they are sick, injured, afraid or become protective. Understanding dog behaviours and practicing responsible dog care are great ways to prevent dog bites.
Here are some tips from us, to keep in mind with your next dog fun encounter:
- Avoid dogs you do not know. Not all dogs take well to strangers.
- Prior to approaching an unfamiliar dog, consult with their owner if its okay to approach or pet their dog.
- If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, allow the dog to sniff you first. This allows them to determine that you are not a threat.
- When greeting a dog, avoid eye contact and approach them calmy and at a slight angle. Looking at their paws is a great reference point.
- Crouch sideways when you greet small dogs or lying dogs. Towering over a dog is intimidating and can provoke a dog to react with a bite or attack.
- Avoid petting a dog directly over their head. Instead pet the side of their neck, or chest.
- Don’t disturb a dog when they are eating, sleeping or caring for their puppies.
- Don’t approach a dog’s food, toys or bowl.
- Never tease, chase or yell at a dog.
- Don’t grab a dog’s ears or tail.
- Keep in mind that older dogs, and dogs with disabilities are more easily irritated and frightened.
- Don’t run or ride a bicycle past a dog. Dogs are easily attracted to fast moving objects and are more likely to chase after you.
- Don’t corner, crowd or stand over a dog.
- Don’t approach unattended dogs.
In the case you end up in a situation where a dog attacks you, do not run. Instead use your belongings, such as a backpack, purse, or jacket, to put into their mouth and create a space between you and the dog.
If despite the aforementioned tips you experience a dog bite or attack, please take the following steps:
- Seek medical attention and wash the bite or wound with soap and water for approximately 15 minutes. If anti-septic is available, apply it to the wound.
- Obtain the dog owner’s name and address, and a clear description of the dog, including breed. Obtain a copy of the dog owner’s photo ID.
- If there are any witnesses to the incident, make sure to obtain their contact information.
- Take a clear photo of the injury.
- At your earliest convenience, make clear notes from moments before, leading up to and following the bite.
- Report the incident to the Toronto Public Health (416-338-7600) and Toronto Animal Services (311).
- Call 911 and file a police report.